Well, despite our best efforts, it was too little too late for this little gem of a restaurant.
Tonight’s the final night for Cioppino, about which we wrote a glowing review a few weeks ago. Last night, a small group of friends blissed out one last time, and afterwards Riccardo and his staff joined us for a photo.
I’ll be dreaming of that short rib gnocchi for years to come….
Ron Edge visited Sand Point Magnuson Park Sunday last and returned with this panorama of the largest Dog Off-Leash area in the city – nine acres of “let dogs run free” (within in the fence) with its own dog-leg to Lake Washington where the happy canines can take a swim too. The far-flung view is framed by the parking lot which, I suspect, runs continuous and without the 90 degree bend it seems to get in this panorama merged from several snaps. It seems to be a peaceable kingdom on this sunny Sunday.
These two aerials from June 14, 1939 spot a Boeing Clipper resting at dock in the residential cove between what is now Matthews Beach Park and Discovery Park. They are copied from a collection owned by the courteous Dan Eskenazi thru the help of citizen Ron Edge. [Click TWICE to enlarge]
I enjoyed your article on the Jolly Roger restaurant and remember it well. I read your column every weekend on your web site. In fact I prefer it over the much shorter version in the Times. The Item that really caught my attention was the one about the Boeing Flying Boat.
I came to Seattle in January of 1938 at the age of 6 weeks old. My father had been transferred here by the J.C.Penny C.. He was the head of the advertising and display department of the downtown Penny’s store. In early 1940 we moved into a new house in the NE part of Seattle, just North of the city limits, on 48 Ave NE just off NE 97th. It was just 3 blocks north of “old man” Mathews lake front home (which was later to become the start of Mathews Beach Park). I lived all of my life until 2005 in Seattle and found it a wonderful place to grow up and live. I now live in Snohomish.
My folks told stories about the Jolly Roger and of the Boeing Flying boats taking off from Lake Washington. At the South end of what is now Mathews Beach Park was the staging area for the Boeing Flying boats. It contained work sheds, a reception facility, parking lot, and a very substantial dock running out into the lake past the shoreline sand bar. The dock was so substantial that trucks could be driven out to the plane tied up there. The reception facility had a fireplace, a full kitchen and large open spaces. I don’t know who actually owned the property but after the war it was turned into a water ski club with lots of activities, Bar-B Q’s, beer drinking, and parties on the weekends. We had neighbors that would take us kids down there to water ski and watch the boats.
During the fifties it was turned into community supported swimming and social club. There were no public beaches for swimming and lots of new post war homes in this area at that time. Teenage dances, potlucks, and adult square dancing were the mainstay activates. The area around the facility at that time was mainly small family homes and “old Man” Mathews farm, barn, out buildings, and home. Diagonally across from the entrance to the social club was the home of the Edson’s ( not sure of the spelling). Oren Edson and his brother spent much of their time at the water ski and social club and would later put there boating interest to work. They became the founders of the Bayliner boat company. They honed their entrepreneurial skills by buying mail order fireworks and then retailing them to the neighborhood kids at highly inflated prices. They were the only game in the neighborhood.
This entire neighborhood would eventually be bought up piece by piece, by the city of Seattle, to become what is now Mathews Beach and its parking lots.
I hope I haven’t bored you with my remembrances. Cheers Fred Rowe
Cheers in Return Fred. I read – and published – the whole thing with kind regards.
The Jolly Roger will still be remembered by many Pacific readers either for its landmark qualities – a pink stucco Art Deco tower set neatly at 8720 Lake City Way, the southern gateway to “Victory Way” – or for its rumored reputation: shady. However, in spite of the skull and cross-bones flag “flying’ from the tower, this “pure as fresh snow” setting for the café is almost certainly closer to the truth for these pirates.
Jolly Roger routines were generally happy ones thru the more than forty years of serving specials and often with live music beside its dance floor. In its Great Depression beginnings, this roadhouse served full-course meals for as little as 50 cents from soup to nuts, thru meat and potatoes.
On the well-wrought authority of Vicki Stiles, Executive Director of the Shoreline Historical Museum, the plans for the Jolly Roger were first shared by Seattle architect, Gerald Field, with its builder Ernest B. Fromm on Dec. 15, 1933 – just 10 days after the repeal of prohibition. Fromm, who signed his name “doctor,” apparently liked to practice a procedure called Electro-Hydro Blood Wash more than run a roadhouse, and so he soon welcomed Huey Wong to transform the café into the “dine and dance in Chinese atmosphere” Chinese Castle. On May 28, 1935 Wong had his liquor license suspended for forty-five days. With no spirits it was death to the Castle. Within a year Nellie and Oroville Cleveland purchased the roadhouse and kept it open for 40 years.
Next, but probably not finally, we expose the persistent rumor – an urban legend – that a secret tunnel for escaping prohibition agents extended from the Jolly Roger basement under Lake City Way. I first heard it in the early 1980s, and almost believed it, or hoped for it. Vicki Styles research into Victory Way history puts it to rest. Or does it? With sensationally good stories, hope springs eternal. Perhaps some Pacific reader has some scoop on this tunneling and will share the dirt.
Anything to add, Paul?
YES JEAN – quite a few EDGE CLIPPINGS . As you know our JOLLY ROGER snow shot came from RON EDGE, who is sometimes featured here with his “Edge Clippings.” Years ago Ron took into his collection of ephemera, and artifacts a good selection of images revealing the run of the Jolly Roger, and for a brief stint at the same Bothell Highway address the Chinese Castle. Included are at least two more snow shots equally not dated. Some showtime scenes – perhaps in the basement and very family oriented. Some looks at the bar, and in the kitchen. Following Ron’s contributions I’ll insert a dozen features that appeared years past in Pacific and that hold hands in a penumbra of relevance to the Jolly Rogers location, its style or its service. We start then with Ron’s EDGE CLIPPINGS.
Two more snows.
Neon inside, above, and out, below.
HERE Ron extends the reach of EDGE CLIPPINGS with a link – touch it here – to the collection from which the images above were selected.
PACIFIC HIGHWAY to LAKE FOREST PARK
(First appeared in Pacific, July 21, 1985)
The contemporary scene – from 1985 and when we can uncover it – was photographed from the southern corner of the Lake Forest Park Shopping Center. The “now” view looks across Bothell Way to the north entrance of Sheridan Beach. Bicycles along the Burke Gilman Trail may outnumber the autos that cross this intersection. The historical photo was taken just south and up the hill. In the distance are the still-wild ridges of Sheridan Heights, Cedar Park, Chelsea and View Ridge, and the Sandpoint flats. On the left, the poles closest to the water mark the right of way of the Seattle Lake -Snore & Eastern Railroad, now the line of the bike trail. The railroad was cut through here in late 1887.
The historic photo is but one of a set taken by the photographers Webster & Stevens in late 1912 or early 1913 to show off the improved “highway.” Called the Pacific Highway, it was the project of Gerhard Ericksen, the “good roads politician” from Bothell. He persuaded the state to pay for such roads.
For those who could afford an auto, the weekend excursion to Bothell was a favorite recreation, though tire blowouts often slowed travelers.
The photos were probably used by future Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson who in 1912 was just beginning to promote his Lake Forest Park addition. Hanson proclaimed that his new community was the “only large subdivision in the Northwest that has been platted entirely to contour.” Unlike Seattle, which Hanson said “was never built, it just grew,” Lake Forest Park was laid out with boulevards that followed the contour of the ground before a home was built. “No straight lines are tolerated,” said his promotion ads, “knolls and hills will not be ruthlessly destroyed by the Seattle leveling madness.”
Developments like Lake Forest Park, and the roads to them like the Bothell Highway, were more than the escapes to suburbia. They were advertised as returns to nature.
KENMORE VIEW LOTS
The photograph of Kenmore Reality Company cabin office is one of about 130 illustrations included in “Kenmore by the Lake” the appealing community history published recently by the Kenmore Heritage Society and its principal historian Priscilla Droge. The scene was recorded in 1934 and not long after the cabin was moved to the north side of Bothell Way as it was being widened on its south side to four lanes.
John McMaster, its first mill owner, named Kenmore 1901 for his former home in Kenmore Ontario, but the ultimate source was the picturesque Scottish village of Kenmore on Lock Tay. Each year our Kenmore embraces this nominal Scottish connection on its January 10th Founder’s Day and also in the summer during the “Good Ol’ Days Festival.” In 2002 the Kenmore District Pipe Band played for the festival parade and, fittingly, historian Droge was Grand Marshall.
Although incorporated as recently as 1998 Kenmore first really opened-up in 1913 when the famously slippery red brick road was laid through it from Lake Forest Park to Bothell. More recent motorists from the 30s and 40s will remember roadside attractions like Henry’s Hamburgers, My Old Southern Home, the Cat’s Whiskers and Bob’s Place. All are pictured in the book. After Kenmore real estate move away this cabin was home to its own parade of Bothell Way enterprise including the Violet Shop, Kikuya a Japanese gift shop, the Aquarium and Tai Ho the Chinese Restaurant that recently replaced the cabin with the modern facility shown in the “now’ view.
When Priscilla and Leonard Droge built their home in Kenmore’s Uplake Neighborhood in 1956 they paid $5,500 for a lot with a view of Lake Washington. This may be compared to the 200 dollars “and Up” prices registered on the sign to the far left of the historical photo. As the sign claims those were also upland “lake view lots” but at Depression-time prices.
This coming Sunday Nov. 30 2003 [the year it was first published] at 5pm Priscilla Droge will be signing her book nearby at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. “Kenmore by the Lake” has been so well received that the Heritage Society is thinking about a second tome – one principally of photographs.
The older view is one of many panoramas of Bothell photographed from Norway Hill after the trees were cleared away. The contemporary “repeat” also looks north into Bothell along the line of the 102 Avenue Bridge, however, a second deciduous forest at Sammamish River Park has long ago interrupted any clear-cut view into Bothell. (Add this if you like) In the foreground of the “now” scene newly weds Leslie Strickland and Michael Dorpat pose in their elegant and respective white and plaid wedding dresses. The reception was held – coincidentally – in the retirement center just off camera to the right. (Historical photo courtesy of Pat Kelsey)
(First published in Pacific in 2003)
As stump farms (note the cows in the foreground) replaced the forests that once elbowed Squak (AKA Sammamish) Slough the towns along it, like Kenmore, Woodinville and Bothell, gave up their lumber and shingle mills. The meandering waterway was widely useful for the settlers – first for exploration but soon after for moving coal, lumber, produce and people between Lakes Sammamish and Washington.
This view looks due north into Bothell nearly in line with the timber bridge that was built to link the town to its railroad depot seen here lower right. The Seattle Lake and Eastern Railroad arrived from the Seattle waterfront early in 1888 a year before David Bothell filed a plat for his namesake town and twenty-one years before his son George Bothell became its first mayor in 1909, about the time this scene was recorded.
David Bothell was a logger, and so was Alfred Pearson his neighbor across the slough. Bothell first cut timber to the sides of Lake Union in 1883 before purchasing the land that is now Bothell. Pearson had already settled here in 1883 after a year of working at Yesler’s Mill in Seattle. Eventually he built the big box of a home center-left. Henning Pearson, his stepson, was for many years stationmaster at the train depot that was kitty-corner across the tracks from the Pearson family home. In 1905 the elder Pearson tapped the springs on Norway Hill for a gravity water system that eventually served more than 200 families. The pipeline crossed the slough beneath the wooden bridge that was replaced by the surviving 102nd Avenue bridge built in its place in 1949.
[The following news is now nearly eight years old.] This look into Bothell – or one similar – will almost certainly be part of “Bothell Then and Now” the Bothell Landmarks Preservation Board’s new book project. Readers with historical photographs of Bothell – or leads to them – can help by calling Rob Garwood, the enthused and learned city official who is helping with the project. He’d love to scan a copy. His number at city hall is 425 486 2768 ext. 4474
MARINES ON BEACON HILL
(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 13, 1994)
No Seattle tower commands its setting with such singularity as the hospital at the head of Beacon Hill. The hill, its greenbelt and the Dearborn Cut in effect magnify the Pacific Medical Center’s tower far beyond its 16 floors. Although the hospital seems to lord it over the central business district, the prospect local architects Bebb and Gould emphasized was away from the city where, for most of the day, the sun could throw vitamins to the patients through the southern windows.
It was first called the Marine Hospital. On Feb. 1, 1933, the first 84 patients were ferried here by Coast Guard cutter from the old Marine Hospital in Port Townsend. Eventually patients were admitted from all over the Northwest, including Alaska, and in the beginning most of them had something to do with the federal government’s variety of marine services.
This view looks from the west to the hospital’s southern face and its main entrance. The “now” is offset some to look through the landscape. A Seattle Times reporter made a visit before patients were yet admitted, and the resulting headline announced that “Illness Would Be Almost A Joy In Marine Hospital.” The warm-toned deco tower is an exquisite construction.
The Marine Hospital had private radio sets for every one of its 300-plus beds, solariums furnished like “a piazza of a summer hotel with wicker and gaily striped deck chairs,” a motion-picture theater, a library and electric dishwashers “polished to blinding brilliance. “
[Note, like the above what follows was first written nearly 18 years ago.] Having survived the efforts of several U.S. presidents (Nixon, Ford, Reagan) to close it, the Pacific Medical Center prospers, in part because of its symbiosis with the University of Washington Medical School, which still uses the facility for research and training. It has even expanded, with a new northern wing built in harmony with the structure’s already well-wrought bricks, stone, glass and terra cotta. [I believe that the tower has more recently been used by a growing on-line retail monopoly.]
ROYAL CROWN COLA MODERNE
(First appeared in Pacific, May 18, 2003)
Put a thumb over the tower of this building and it may look faintly familiar. For many years, beginning around 1950, the structure, sans tower, was the home of Moose Lodge No. 21L Here, however, in 1939 it is new and showing the superstructure that would soon announce the new home of Par-T-Pack beverages.
In the eternal competition for even a small sip of the giant cola drink that is Coke and Pepsi, Royal Crowne hired Seattle architect William J. Bain Sr. to design this “Streamline Moderne”-style bottling plant at 222 Mercer St., kitty-corner from the Civic Auditorium. When the plant opened, management lined its new fleet of GMC trucks along Mercer for the photograph reprinted here.
Perhaps most spectacular was the state-of-the-art bottling line that was exposed to pedestrians and traffic on Mercer through the corner windows. When the levered windows were opened the clatter of the bottles moving along the assembly line added to the effect of industry on parade. The Mooses replaced the bottling line with a lounge and dance floor.
In the mid-1980s the Kreielsheimer Foundation began buying up this “K-Block” with the intention of giving it to the city for a new art museum. When the Seattle Art Museum moved downtown instead, a new home here was proposed for the Seattle Symphony. But the symphony, too, relocated downtown.
For 14 months, including all of 2001, this corner was the first home for One Reel’s still popular dinner tent show Teatro Zinzanni. Permission to use the comer came from Kreielsheimer trustee Don Johnson nearly at the moment the charitable foundation completed its quarter-century run of giving $100 million, mostly to regional arts groups. [Later One Reel moved its dinner show off of the corner to a Belltown site, but then moved back again to the K-Block]
In the historical scene, above, a photographer from the Asahel Curtis studio takes a picture of the new Seattle Armory in 1939. His shadow, bottom right, reveals that he was using a large box camera on a tall tripod. In the contemporary view, below, photographed from one of the food-concession rows at the 2003 Bumbershoot Festival, the old Armory/Center House is effectively hidden behind the landscaping of Seattle Center. Both views look north on Third Avenue North toward its intersection with Thomas Street.
ARMORY aka FOOD CIRCUS aka CENTER HOUSE – SEATTLE CENTER
For anyone whose physical impressions of the city were first etched in the 1960s (Having moved here from Spokane in 1966, I include myself.) the big Moderne structure shown here is the Food Circus at Seattle Center. That was the name given to the 146th Field Artillery Armory when it was surrendered to Century 21 for the World’s Fair in 1962.
When the armory was built on the future Seattle Center site in 1939 it had, of course, military functions such as a firing range and a garage for tanks. But like the two other armories Seattle has had, it ultimately was used more by citizens than soldiers. The first armory was built in 1888 on Union Street between Third and Fourth avenues. When much of the city, including City Hall, burned down in 1889, the National Guard Armory was headquarters for city government. The old brick battlement at Virginia Street and Western Avenue that replaced it (1909-1968) was used for dances, car shows and conventions. During the Great Depression it became a food-distribution center. This, the last of our three community-defense centers (built before the atom bomb), was used regularly for events driven more by the pleasure principle. Duke Ellington, for instance, played in this armory for the 1941 University of Washington Junior Prom.
The name Food Circus was pronounced stale in the early 1970s when the big building got a low-budget makeover and was renamed the Center House. A greater renovation came in the mid-1990s when the Children’s Museum, a primary resident since 1985, built its own space. In 2000, the Center House Stage became only the fifth place to be designated an Imagination Celebration National Site by the Kennedy Center. Now the old armory is busy with more than 3,000 free public performances each year.
ELLIS ON THIRD AVENUE
Perhaps Washington State’s most prolific postcard photographer was a Marysville schoolteacher who was persuaded in 1926 to stop preparing for classes and instead purchase a photography studio in Arlington. J. Boyd Ellis might have dedicated himself to wedding work were he not convinced by an itinerate stationery salesman to make real photo postcards of streets, landmarks and picturesque scenes that the salesman would peddle statewide. Postcard collectors such as John Cooper, from whom this’ week’s scene was borrowed, have been thankful ever since.
It’s fairly easy to date this home front street scene, which looks south on Seattle’s Third Avenue from Pine Street. Across the street and just beyond the very swank Grayson women’s apparel is Telenews, a World War II entertainment oddity that showed only newsreels. The marquee promises “50 World Events.” We can figure the date from the headline emblazoned there: “YANKS TAKE BIZERTE!” On May 7, 1943, the North Africa campaign was all but over when Allied forces marched into Bizerte on the north coast of Tunisia. Five days later about a quarter million Axis soldiers capitulated.
Across Third Avenue at the Winter Garden – most of the marquee is visible at far right – James Cagney’s “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is playing. The vaudevillian George M. Cohan’s life story was one of the period’s great patriotic hits. It is likely that both the newsreels and the song-and-dance biography were well-attended. With war work running around the clock, many theaters, including the W-inter Garden, never closed.
In 1979 the 59-year-old Winter Garden theater on the west side of Third Avenue mid-block between Pike and Pine Streets was closed and remodeled for a Lerner’s store. A downtown branch of Aaron Bros., an arts supply chain, is the most recent proprietor. [First published in 2003 – Historical photo courtesy of Museum of History and Industry.]
In the summer of 1920 one of last remaining pioneer homes on Third Avenue was razed for construction of The Winter Garden. This mid-sided theater of 749 cushioned seats was made exclusively for movies – not vaudeville. It opened early in December and the proprietor, James Q. Clemmer, was Seattle’s first big purveyor of Motion Pictures. Clemmer got his start in 1907 with the Dream Theater where he mixed one-reelers with stage acts. Eventually he either owned or managed many if not most of the big motion picture theaters downtown.
Except for a few weeks in 1973 when the IRS closed it for non-payment of payroll taxes the Winter Garden stayed opened at 1515 Third Avenue until 1979. In the end it was known simply as the Garden, a home for x-rated films where the house lights were never turned up. Here it is in 1932 showing the remake of The Miracle Man. The original silent version of 1919 was a huge hit that earned $3 million on an investment of $120,000. The movie was taken from a play by George M. Cohan and starred Long Chaney as Frog, a contortionist who was partner in a religious con game. No print of the 1919 film survives.
In the late 1950s when television cut into theater attendance many of the downtown theaters, the Garden included, played B-movies in double and triple features. In 1962 an eleven year old Bill White would walk downtown from his home on Queen Anne Hill and spend the quarter his mother gave him for bus fair to watch movies in what he describes as “the dark comfort” of the Embassy, the Colonial and the Garden. White, whose mom thought he was at the Y.M.C.A., grew up to be an expert on films and a movie reviewer.
The name “Winter Garden” was taken from a famous New York theater of the same name on Broadway. In 1864 Abraham Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth performed there as Anthony in a performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar when the play was interrupted by a fire set by confederate saboteurs in the LaFarge House hotel next door. A second Winter Garden on Broadway opened in 1910 as a venue for musical comedies. In 1982 the musical Cats began its record 18-year run there.
The northeast corner of Madison Street and 42nd Avenue has been held by at least one curiosity: a castle. The Castle Dye Works is featured in “Madison Park Remembered.” The author Jane Powell Thomas’ grandparents move to Madison Park in 1900. In her turn Thomas raised three children in the neighborhood and dedicated her history of it to her seven grandchildren. (Historical photo courtesy of Washington State Archive – Puget Sound Regional Branch.)
MADISON PARK ECCENTRIC – REMEMBERED
(First published in Pacific, in 2005)
It is pleasure to have stumbled upon another neighborhood eccentric. This one appears on page 99 of “Madison Park Remembered”, the new and good natured history of this neighborhood by one of it residents, Jane Powell Thomas.
Much of the author’s narrative is built on the reminiscences of her neighbors. For instance, George Powell is quoted as recalling that the popular name for this dye works when it still showed its turrets was the “Katzenjammer Castle.” Seattle’s city hall between 1890 and 1909 was also named for the fanciful structures in the popular comic strip “The Katzenjammer Kids” and George Wiseman, the Castle Dye Works proprietor in 1938 (when this tax photo of it was recorded) may have also traded on this association.
The vitality of this business district was then still tied to the Kirkland Ferry. Wiseman’s castle introduced the last full block before the ferry dock. Besides his castle there was a drug store, two bakeries, a thrift store, a meat market, two restaurants, a tavern, a gas station, a combined barber and beauty shop, and a Safeway. And all of them were on Wiseman’s side of the street for across Madison was, and still is, the park itself.
Studying local history is an often serendipitous undertaking charmed by surprises like Dorothy P. Frick’s photo album filled with her candid snapshots of district regulars and merchants standing besides their storefronts in the 1960s. Introduced to this visual catalogue of neighborhood characters by Lola McKee, the “Mayor of Madison Park” and long-time manager of Madison Park Hardware, Thomas has made good use of Frick’s photos.
“Madison Park Remembered” is now in its second printing, and although it can be found almost anywhere Jane Thomas was recently  told that her book had set a record by outselling Harry Potter — at Madison Park Books.
For more than 35 years the Moscow Restaurant was a fixture for the Russian-American community that settled in the Cascade and Eastlake corridor on the western slope of Capitol Hill. In 1923 it opened to the aromas of borsht, beef stroganoff, jellied pigs’ feet, Turkish coffee and Russian pancakes.
In 1923 and 1924 a tide of White Russians who had fought the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Russian revolution landed on the West Coast of the United States. Among them was Prince Riza Kuli Mirza, who painted a fresco of a Russian winter on a wall in the restaurant. Jacob Elshin, another soldier artist connected with the Imperial Russian Guard, designed the fanciful exterior as a candy house from a popular Russian fairy tale. Elshin soon opened a studio by producing hand-painted greeting cards, stage scenery, religious icons and an occasional oil painting. In the late 1930s while Elshin was painting murals commissioned by the Works Progress Administration for libraries in Renton and the University District, the original owners of the restaurant sold it to Nicholas and Marie Gorn.
In 1958 Seattle Times columnist John Reddin visited the restaurant to share in the Gorns’ plight: the coming Seattle freeway. Nicholas Gorn asked, “How can we ever replace this atmosphere which is so vital to our business?” Of course, they could not. By the time Gorn and Elshin lost their candy house to the freeway, the artist was one of the better known painters in Seattle.
Above: In 1940, two years after the “tax man” photographed this Bellevue barn, the federal census counted only 1,114 citizens living in a Bellevue that was then best known for its strawberries. (Photo courtesy, Washington State Archive, Bellevue Branch) Below: Jean Sherrard’s wide panorama (from late 2007) looks north at the modern Bellevue skyline and over the parking lot of the bank that now holds the northwest corner of NE 4th Street and 106th Avenue NE.
BELLEVUE BARN – 1938
(First appeared in Pacific, Jan 20, 2008)
When the Works Progress Administration (WPA) photographers reach Bellevue in 1938 for their countywide inventory of taxable structures they found this barn at the northwest corner of NE 4th Street and 106th Avenue NE. Par for the Great Depression the barn was then in the hands of a lender, the Home Owners Loan Corporation. Previous owners included Hugh Martin, Bellevue’s first mail carrier, and Joseph Kardong, fruit farmer, land-clearer, and feed store manager.
While the July 4, 1940 opening of the Lacey V. Murrow (AKA Mercer Island) Floating Bridge insured that Bellevue would be citified and turn from what another WPA functionary described in 1941 as “a trading center for the berry farmers and vineyardists in the rich lowlands” these changes were stalled by World War Two.
By a vote of 885 to 461 Bellevue incorporated in 1953 as a conservative car-oriented community with a decidedly low-rise profile. Building heights were generally restricted to forty feet. In less than 30 years following incorporation Bellevue added more than sixty separate annexations. A fateful rezoning of 1981 broke the forty-foot ceiling and Bellevue got muscular, pumping itself into “Bellevue big and tall.” It is now the third largest business district in the northwest United States, after Seattle and Portland.
Jean Sherrard’s contemporary repeat looks north from the former site of the barn. His panoramic lens reveals part of the “Bellevue Miracle” that has the former low-rise car town now reaching for the sky On the left is the Lincoln Tower. At 42 stories it is Bellevue’s new skyline topper, towering high above what were not so long ago strawberry fields.
On Tuesday afternoon April 4, 1939 in Olympia Washington State Governor Martin inaugurated his “economy program.” Also that afternoon in Seattle about 400 jobless persons were assembled in the County-City Building to promote their own “program” for jobs and food. From these a few volunteers adjourned to the nearby City Hall Park to help construct “Starvation Camp No. 2” in a canvas parody of Martin’s “austerity plan.” (Camp No.1 was already up on the Spokane County Courthouse lawn.)
In 1939 the Great Depression was grinding on thru its eleventh year. On Thursday April 6, Seattle Mayor Arthur B. Langlie ordered the protestors to remove their tent from the city-owned park by nightfall. It wound up only a few feet away pitched on an asphalt courthouse courtyard. County commissioners were more sympathetic than the mayor or the governor. That day the county’s Welfare Department, which had its funding reduced by 45 percent in March, released the latest figures on the number of King County citizens dropped from relief rolls because of the cut backs in state funding. It was 13,214.
The grim irony was that the grand solution to the loss of jobs and lack of food was being prepared far off in Europe. That April the Pope was testing a Vatican bomb shelter, the Nazis were marching into Czechoslovakia, and soon after into Poland. It was World War Two that brought jobs to Seattle (and nearly everywhere) and food too – rationed – while also killing millions and flattening cities.
A very good – and perhaps best – guide to studying Seattle during these years is Rich Berner’s book “Seattle 1921-1940 From Boom to Bust.” In his concluding chapter Berner elaborates on the parallels between then and now. “In the 1930s, a permanent underclass was in the making. Now it has been made and its being extended internally within the United States, though its composition differs from the one taking shape before the second war threw it a lifeline.”
I thought I’d include a couple of pix of those wrapped trees, Paul. Welcome splashes of color to offset the dreary days to come.
Anything to add, Paul?
Certainly, Jean – but first bon voyage on your week off to southern California, and if you get into the desert we will be watching the blog back here in the gray and green Northwest hope you will send along some warming burnt umber pictures. And blue too. I’ve picked a few features from past Pacifics – mostly – that have to do with the neighborhood, and one that shows something of Hooverville, also during the Great Depression. We will start with a detail from the 1878 Birdseye of Seattle, and note there the clutter of small buildings that are depicted as holding the small triangular block (now City Hall Park) south across Jefferson Street from, in 1878, the Yesler’s orchard.
CITY HALL PARK
(First appeared in Pacific, March 6, 1994)
The odd-shaped block of grass shown here was called City Hall Park. The Seattle City Council’s first recommended name, Oratory Park, was rejected by progressives who claimed it was a political ploy to limit free speech to this open plot between Yesler Way (on the left), Jefferson Street, Fourth Avenue (bottom) and Third Avenue. The year the park opened was 1913, when radicals – ”Wobblies” among them – used much of the business district, especially the Skid Road section south of Yesler Way, for soap-box oratory.
This top view was photographed around 1916, the year the ·first six stories of the City-County Building, far right, were completed across Jefferson Street from the park. Somewhat hidden in this view, Jefferson street may still be block by tunnel construction. The tunnel, from its entrance off Fourth Avenue just north of Yesler Way, curved beneath the street and park en route to parking in the new building’s basement. The entrance to the tunnel can be seen in the contemporary view photographed from the roof of the 400 Yesler Building, itself once a Seattle City Hall. The contemporary view is paired with another early look at the park and County-City building also from the roof of the 1908-09 flatiron construction, between Terrace and Yesler and east of 4th. It was renamed for its address, the 400 Yesler Building with its restoration in the 1970s.
City Hall Park was used during the Depression for mass meetings of the unemployed and during World War II as drill grounds for the Seattle Air Defense Wing (housed across Yesler Way in the Frye Hotel, far left). In the mid-1950s it was redesigned with new walkways, trees and plastic game tables. In the late ’60s the City-County Building was remodeled and its entrance moved to Third Avenue. Now (in 1994) the county is studying plans to return a restored grand entrance to Jefferson Street.
City Hall Park itself was closed, landscaped and rededicated in 1993, in part as an attempt to retard its common-use then as a “Muscatel Meadows” by the down-and-out.
Above: For a few years after the 1909 razing of the old Katzenjammer City Hall, the future City Hall Park was used for a variety of public gatherings and carnivals. Here a crowd is – or may be – listening to a speech delivered from the covered platform on the right. It sits at the southwest corner of Jefferson and Fourth Ave. The super-sized Coliseum Theatre took the place of the Yesler Mansion and orchard until it too was razed for the building of the City-County Building, aka the County Court House.
SEATTLE’S FIRST HORSELESS BLACK MARIA
(First appears in Pacific, Sept. 30, 1984)
Seattle’s first horseless carriage came to town in 1900. Four years later, the city took an offical count. For one day in December 1904, the Seattle Street Department counted and typed every vehicle that passed through the busy intersection of Second Avenue and Pike Street. The tally came to 3,959, but only 14 of them were automobiles. But by 1907 America and Seattle were automobile crazy. Every issue of the daily newspapers featured something about them. And although most American families could not afford to “get the motorcar habit,” there were, in Seattle at least, three chances to ride in one.
The favored choice was to take the Seeing Seattle tour bus. Or, for a little more trouble, an early Seattleite could get a ride in the Seattle Police Patrol’s brand new Black Maria. The last choice was indeed a final option: a ride in Seattle’s first motorized hearse. But it was the city’s patrolling Black Maria that seemed to get the most attention. In today’s historical photo, the new paddy wagon was being shown off in front of the old Katzenjamer city hall and had no problem luring a crowd. The year was almost certainly 1907. On May 13 of that year the Post -Intelligencer ran another photo of the police wagon with a caption that read, “The new automobile police patrol is ready to be formally delivered to the police department, provided it measures up . . . Chief Wappenstein and others made several trips in the wagon. On level streets, the machine moves along at the rate of 15 mph. It was built by the Knox Company of Springfield, Mass., and is for durability rather than speed.”
And it measured up. The earliest record that contemporary police historian Capt. Mike Brasfield could find for the paddy wagon’s performance is from 1909. That year it made 7,637 calls, an average of almost 21 calls a day. But since it traveled an inner-city beat, its seemingly low 8,547-mile total included a lot of short trips to the jail.
Pictured in today’s contemporary photo is one of the department’s four modem vans. [In 1984] This one’s radio call name is David-Ten. It’s parked in the same spot as old Black Maria (actually about 20 feet to the north of the “then”, but today the site of the old City Hall is called City Hall Park.
The LONDON GHOST SHOW
(First appeared in Pacific, July 6, 1986)
This rare circus scene was copied from an old family album compiled early in the century by a Capitol Hill couple, Delia and Lewis Whittelsey. Though the couple had no children, they left plenty of photographs. This scene was pasted into the album without a caption, but its location and approximate time are easy to track. The circus was set up on what was called the “old Yesler site,” a full city block between Third and Fourth avenues and Jefferson and James streets, often used for such occasions after 1901 when the Yesler Mansion was destroyed by fire.
The camera was aimed to the northeast across the block where Sara and Henry Yesler began to build their 40-room mansion in 1883. The block is now completely filled with the bulk of the King County Courthouse. The landmark that gives the site away is the old First Baptist Church on Fourth Avenue, a short distance south of Cherry Street. Here its steep roof rises above the big top. Between the destruction by fire of Yes!er’s mansion and the 1906 construction of the Coliseum Theater in its place, the old Yesler site was used for mass meetings or amusements like the London Ghost Show. In the second subject above the vortex ramp has nearly been surmounted by the climbing ball man.
According to Michael Sporrer, Seattle’s resident circus expert, the London attraction was one of many sideshows attached to the La Fiesta and Alfresco Society Circus that performed here for two weeks in July 1904. It was the main attraction for the Seattle Mardi Gras’ and Midsummer Festival. Sporrer describes this production as an outstandingly unusual mix of circus and carnival acts. It included Fraviola, “the only woman in the world who loops the loop twice,” but who apparently missed a loop in Seattle and was badly injured. In the “now” photo, Sporrer stands well below the circus elevation but just a few feet from where the London Ghost Show once haunted the old Yesler site.
(First appeared in Pacific, 2-23-1997)
The fires in the fall of 1940 at “Hooverville” and other shack communities spread along the beaches and tideflats of Elliott Bay were a squatters’ Armageddon – with a posted warning. The mostly single men who lived in these well-packed, rent-free communities were told the day of the coming conflagration, so there was time for some of the shacks to be carefully trucked away to other sites not marked for wartime manufacturing.
This was quite different from the old Hooverville ritual of farewell. That was a kind of potlatch. When a resident found a job (a rare event), he was expected to ceremoniously give his house, bed and stove to others still out of work. In 1939 this gift-giving became commonplace; the war in Europe had begun to create jobs here, and among the residents of Hooverville were many skilled hands.
Squatters’ shacks had been common in Seattle since at least the Panic of 1893. Miles of waterfront were dappled with minimal houses constructed mostly of whatever building materials the tides or junk heaps of nearby industries offered. For the most part, these free-landers were not bothered by officials or their more conventional neighbors. Swelling during the ’30s into communities sometimes of 1,000 or more residents, these self-policing enclaves were an obvious and creative solution to some of the worst effects of the Great Depression.
In Seattle Hooverville was the biggest of them. It sprawled along the waterfront west of Marginal Way South, roughly between Dearborn Street and Royal Brougham Way. The scene of prodigious shipbuilding during World War I, the site had been increasingly neglected and then abandoned after the war. Now these acres are crowded with Port of Seattle containers – or were, at least, in 1997.)
Like a medieval theme park or a child’s castle fantasy the City of Seattle allowed the Masonic Knights Templar to build their headquarters in City Hall Park for the order’s Grand Encampment of 1925. The City-County Building (1914) behind it had not yet reached its full height with the addition of five more stories in 1930 including the “penthouse prison”– the kind of castle designed to keep knights-in-error within.
SIR KNIGHTS’ CASTLE
With more than thirty thousand Sir Knights and many of their dependents expected in Seattle for — to give the full title — the Conclave of the Grand Encampment of the United States of America for the Thirty-Sixth Triennial of the Knights Templar, a headquarters was needed which was both central and symbolic. This ersatz castle is it.
Filling most of Seattle’s City Hall Park the Knights Templar headquarters was designed for the conclave by local Sir Knight architects including the Headquarters Committee’s Vice-Chairman Henry Bittman. But it was the Chair, John C. Slater, who envisioned the feudal castle.
A castle-headquarters was appropriate, for this rite of Free Masonry was named for the medieval crusaders who, with Pope Honorius III’s imprimatur, were warriors for the faith, battling the Moors and protecting pilgrims in the Holy Land. So for the last five days of July, 1925 Seattle was overrun by plumed “Soldiers of the Cross Carrying the Banner of Christ” and erecting crosses everywhere, on light poles and roof tops. It was also projected by local Sir Knights that the visiting Christian Soldiers would drop between eight and ten million dollars into the Seattle economy.
Each morning the castle’s drawbridge was lowered in ceremonies led by Boy Scouts. The walls of the interior courtyard were decorated with the seals of the Northwest states. Also inside were accommodations for the Conclave’s many committees including that which arranged the more than 2000 volunteer automobile tours of Seattle for the visiting Sir Knights and Ye Ladies. In a sign of the times, however, the Horse Committee could find only 210 good saddle horses — some shipped from Eastern Washington — for the event’s Grand Parade, not the 500 promised.
The Knights Templar castle-headquarters was another quixotic fit for a site with a history of warriors and even one other “castle.” Here during the Jan. 26, 1856 battle of Seattle the Navy’s howitzer balls splintered the forest hiding the Indians firing their small arms at the village. The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) commemorating that battle erected here in 1914 a surviving monument holding three canon balls. And it was here that King County built a frame courthouse in 1882 which was later enlarged as Seattle’s City Hall with such a topsy-turvy of additions that it was popularly called the Katzenjammer Castle: an allusion to the architecture included in a then poplar comic strip, the Katzenjammer Kids. More recently, it was here during World War Two that Seattle’s Air Defense Wing, housed in the Frye Hotel across Yesler Way, practiced its daily drills.
YESLER WAY LOOKING WEST from 5TH AVENUE
(First appeared in Pacific, March 17, 1991)
Photographed in 1911 or 1912, this view down Yesler Way from the Fifth Avenue overpass is dominated by two land-marks that still grace the neighborhood: the Public Safety Building, nearby on the right, and the ornate Frye Hotel, left of center. When it was completed in 1912, the Frye’s 11-story lift was second only to the 18 floors of the Hoge Building. (One year later, across Yesler Way, the city’s skyscraping ambitions reached further toward the heavens with the 40-plus stories of the Smith Tower.) In 1972 the 375-room hotel was converted into 234 apartments.
The Public Safety Building was nearly lost. The City Council’s 1970 ordinance to destroy what was then an eyesore parking garage was stopped in the courts by local preservationists. Built in 1909, the Public Safety Building was the first substantial structure planned exclusively for city use since Seattle’s clapboard central business district was destroyed in the fire of 1889. After its last municipal user, the Police Department, moved out in 1951 the city had difficulty finding a buyer until an auto body shop moved in and stayed 19 years.
In 1977 the structure was beautifully restored as one of Seattle’s first renovation projects motivated by tax breaks for the owners. Then its newest occupant was its oldest, only the city was renting.
(First appeared in Pacific, July 2, 2000.)
When it was new in1911 the Frye Hotel was described by consensus as simply the finest hotel in Seattle. It was also one of the highest of the city’s new steel-frame brick and terra-cotta tile skyscrapers. Here the construction continues at the retail level facing the sidewalk on Yesler Way. Eleven stories up the grandly ornamented cornice nearly overflows like a fountain at the cap of this elegant Italian Renaissance landmark.
The Frye Hotel was the last of Seattle pioneer George F. Frye’s many accomplishments. Arriving in Seattle in 1853, the twenty-year-old German immigrant helped Henry Yesler assemble his steam sawmill and quickly became a favorite of Arthur and Mary Denny and later also of their daughter. Louisa just turned 17 when George married her in 1860. Together they had six children and many businesses, and Louisa was very much a partner in both. The children recalled how their father would never make a major business decision without the review and approval of their mother.
These partners ran the first meat market in Seattle, opened a bakery, raised the city’s first distinguished stage, the Frye Opera House (Frye also organized the community’s first brass band.), built and managed at least three hotels, and invested in real estate with great success. For four years beginning in 1870 George Frye was also first purser and then captain of the Puget Sound steamer J.B. Libby when it had the federal contract to deliver mail to Whidbey Island and other points north.
Typically, the Fryes formed their own contracting company to build their grandest hotel and George, entering his late 70s managed the construction. A little more than a year after the hotel’s grand spring opening in 1911, George F. Frye died. His widow, of course, continued to manage the Louisa C. Frye Hotel. George had named it for her.
Although built near the train depots to the south the commercial heart of the city was already moving north from Pioneer Square when the Frye Hotel was opened. In the early seventies the hotel was converted into low-income apartments. Most recently the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) has purchased the hotel, restored the marble grandeur of its main floor, strengthened it against earthquakes, and repainted and appointed its 234 units.
(First appeared in Pacific, Jan. 22, 1989)
This Klondike Gold Rush-era view was uncovered by Mary Marx from a miscellany of family mementos. Her father, William Michel, is second from the left below the Frasch’s Cigars sign. Born in 1873, he is in his mid-20s here. The photograph is the conventional one of a proprietor and his store – assuming the owner is at the door or perhaps on the right. The man on the left, clutching the sack, is possibly a customer.
Determining the exact corner of this photo was easy because of landmark steps to Our Lady Of Good Help on the far left. Seattle’s first Catholic Church was at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Washington Street. Thus, this store is at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and Yesler Way, the present site of the Frye Hotel.
And what kind of a store is this? During the late 1890s the sign “Klondike Outfits” was almost as common as the sign “Lotto” today. And the buyer’s odds were about the same. Some of the items on sale here are homemade bread, slabs of bacon, blood sausages, imported Swiss cheese, all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and inside the paraphernalia for traveling men on their way to the Klondike gold fields.
TRINITY PARISH – FIRST HOME
(First appeared in Pacific, April 26, 1998)
When measured by its seating, Trinity Parish’s church — with a footprint of only 24 by 48 feet – was, when new in 1870, the largest sanctuary in Seattle. Still its simple unadorned style made it seem smaller than its neighbors, the Roman Catholic and two Methodist churches. They had towers.
This scene may well date from the early 1870s when the building still faced north and south at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Jefferson Street. The view looks west toward Elliott Bay where the masts of a tall ship moored beside Yesler Wharf can be seen faintly on the far left. In 1880 the building was turned 90 degrees and a tower added for what was then claimed to be the largest bell in Washington Territory. The church was also lengthened for a chancel and the territory’s first pipe organ.
Much of Trinity’s materials were donated, but not the Gothic windows which were purchased in San Francisco. Typically with pioneer congregations it was the women who were most responsible for raising the funds to build, adorn and run their churches. In a recollection on church history pioneer Trinity parishioner Mrs. E.E. Heg recalled how the town’s industrialist Henry Yesler also once helped spank some coin for the building fund.
At a benefit held in his namesake hall, Yesler announced to the women “Now, I will help you make some money. I will go and get a crowd of the boys and get sticks for them to whittle, and bring them in here, and we will whittle all over the floor, and you must make them all pay something for the muss they make.” Yesler soon returned with an entourage of the village’s leading capitalists. In order, he made them buy and put on the women’s aprons, whittle on the floor, and pay to have it cleaned up.
While the popular standing room only parish was raising funds to build a bigger sanctuary on First Hill it lost its original sanctuary to the city’s “Great Fire” of 1889. It was the only structure destroyed on Third Avenue north of Yesler Way.
(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 14, 1999)
Neither commonplace nor rare, all early-century views of the James Street regrade also show tampering with its cable railway. The regrading on James Street was episodic, contingent on the north-south upheavals of Seattle avenues, first on Third in 1906, next on Fourth in 1908 and so on to Fifth and Sixth. This view looks east up James from Second Avenue. The temporary holding of the cable railway on blocks at its original grade continues as far as Fourth Avenue. The date is early in 1906. In an October view from the same year, the structure with the tower, upper left has been removed and a block-long vaudeville theater is under construction at the southeast corner of Third and James, just to the right of the cable car.
The considerably rarer subject here is the old frame structure, center right, at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and James. The sign protruding from its west wall reads “Normandy Furnished Rooms,” but not for long. The name was soon changed to The Drexel, and a brick floor added to the hotel with the lowering of both James and Third. The ladder leaning beneath the Normandy is a kind of caliber of both the cut and the space available for the eventual excavation of a new ground floor.
What is totally unique about this building is that it survives as the oldest structure in the Central Business District. Built as the Ingels Block shortly before the city’s “Great Fire” of June 6, 1889 it barely escaped it. The Collins family home to this side of it on Second Avenue (a portion of the replacement Collins Building appears far right) as well as Trinity Episcopalian Church, south of the Ingels on Third Avenue, were both destroyed. Soon after the fire the name of the hotel was changed to Normandy. Surviving with it were the homes of Henry Yesler and Bailey Gatzert, neighbors across Third Avenue and James Street respectively.
The Ingels-Normandy-Drexel was already treated as “historic and old” in 1944 when Seattle Times reporter Bob Burandt noted that “the upper two stories are now getting a ‘beauty treatment’ rather than be torn down, and workmen have been at the ‘covering up’ process for some time.” The new cement-asbestos board covering was required by a then new fire code. Beneath it is the clapboard of the original Ingels as well as the ground floor Drexel brick addition.
In 2000, or thereabouts, this oldest of structures downtown got a facial by the Samis Land Company, its present owner. There were plans, at least, to steam-clean the exterior, and the original Drexel first floor facing Third Avenue was to be restored. In 200 when this was first written, a corner tenant to replace the half-century old Spin Tavern had not been identified.
For fifteen tiring years litigants negotiated First Hill to meet with bureaucrats at the King County Courthouse at 7th Avenue and Alder Street. Consequently, that part of the hill overlooking Pioneer Square was often called “Profanity Hill.” But on May 4, 1916 the new courthouse was dedicated, and it suited the Central Business District well, for it looked more like an office building than a courthouse.
The architect of its first five floors, the commandingly named Augustus Warren Gould, was censured by his peers and kicked out of the American Institute of Architects. In the book “Shaping Seattle Architect,” Dennis Anderson explains with his essay on Gould that the architect “violated professional ethics to secure this commission siding with Pioneer Square property holders who fought relocation of city-county offices to the [Denny] regrade area.” Still Gould kept the commission and this is the result.
Six more sympathetic stories were added in 1929-31. Unfortunately in the early 1960s, as Lawrence Kreisman (a familiar name to Pacific Northwest readers) notes in “Made to Last” his book on historic preservation, “A major remodeling [that] was intended to capture the spirit of urban renewal and cosmetically disguise the building’s true age destroyed many original features of the elegant marble-clad lobbies, windows and entrance portals.”
The U.S. Food Administration’s sign “Food Will Win the War” certainly dates this view from sometime during the First World War. In addition to soldiers and munitions the nation was also sending food to Europe and homemakers were signed up as “kitchen soldiers.” School children recited this rhyming pledge. “At table I’ll not leave a scrap of food upon my plate. And I’ll not eat between meals but for supper time I’ll wait.” These were the years when horse steaks were sold at the Pike Place Market, President Wilson turned the white house law into a pasture for sheep, and the country’s 20th century long march to obesity was temporarily impeded.
BATTLE OF SEATTLE
(First appeared in Pacific, Dec. 6, 1992)
In the first 11 years of “now and then” this was the first painting selected. It is a bird’s eye view of the village of Seattle on Jan. 26, 1856, the day of the Battle of Seattle. The painting is long familiar to me but in photographic copies only. If the original oil survives, I’ve not found it. Until now, all the copies I’d come upon had part of their center obliterated by the reflecting glare of the photographer’s lights (see below). Now Michael Maslan, a local dealer of historical ephemera, has uncovered this print without the glare. It was part of a montage of early 1890s scenes photographed then by local professional William Boyd.
Participants’ reminiscences of this battle are varied and often conflicting. Estimates of how many Native Americans were in the woods vary from a few hundred to several thousand. Many, perhaps most, were Klickitats and Yakimas who had come across Snoqualmie Pass. The range of their trade rifles was generally too limited to rain accurate mayhem on the village. So, by some reports, they had planned to storm the community while the sailors breakfasted aboard the sloop-of-war Decatur. Their intentions (or, possibly, merely their presence) was betrayed by an informer, and the battle was begun not by the natives but by the Decatur’s cannon.
The howitzer’s report was so loud it could be heard across Puget Sound. The Native Americans answered with small-arms fire; the startled settlers rushed in a general panic from their cabins to the blockhouse they had built weeks earlier on a knoll at the foot of Cherry Street.
The battle began at 8 in the morning and continued with some lulls until dark, when the Native Americans burned many of the pioneers’ homes before retreating to Lake Washington. Two settlers and, most likely, many more Native Americans were killed.
The painting depicts the Decatur firing from offshore, a shell exploding in the air, the puffs from the settlers’ and sailors’ rifles. But in the painting the Indians are too far from the blockhouse. Most reminiscences of the battle put them in the thick forest that still bordered the community at Third and Fourth avenues. So the painter’s imagined prospect is too high above the Methodist Church included at lower right. The White Church, as it was called, was at Second and Columbia.
Most likely the painter put the Indians high on First Hill because he or she wanted to look down on Seattle, not across to it. And his birdseye view not only adds to the event’s drama but also shows well how in 1856 most of Seattle was set upon a peninsula – named Piners Point by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841 – which extended into the tide flats south of YeslerWay.
[It is time to climb the steps – and not to proof. That in the morning – late morning.]