Seattle Now & Then: The Jolly Roger on Lake City Way

(click to enlarge photos)
THEN: Included in a box of Chinese Castle and Jolly Roger ephemera – menus, fliers, ledgers, and photographs – that collector Ron Edge uncovered were three photos of the roadhouse bedded in snow – three different snows. We chose “the middle one” from the 1940s. (Courtesy: Ron Edge)
NOW: Jean Sherrard lives in the Jolly Roger neighborhood and so without too much sliding he found the site during a recent snow. Although the Jolly Roger was given Seattle landmark status in 1979, it burned to the ground ten years later.
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.
The only evidence that Ron Edge has found – so far – of the exterior appointments during the Chinese Castle’s brief stay at the address. The ink marks are easily explained. The original – in Ron’s hands – is an ink blotter.
The original Jolly Rogers menu from the first months its was open and before the Chinese Castle briefly moved in and out.
The Jolly Roger returns for this Dec. 20, 1935 “formal opening.”
Before the remodel.
Two more snows.
Family entertainment, probably in the basement.
The Cleveland’s daughter and a friend performing in front of a pirate painting.
Meanwhile in the bar above. with Nellie Cleveland tending.
After the remodel and in color
Nellie mixing
Nellie Cleveland at the porthole in the swinging door that leads to the kitchen from the bar. The waitperson in the foreground is not named.
Oroville and Nellie in the kitchen
Neon inside, above, and out, below.
Nellie and Oroville’s reward, their yacht, the Jolly Roger.
A clipping from the Seattle Times for August 21, 1950 reports the Cleveland’s Jolly Roger winning second place in the category of “original entry” for “decorated cruisers” (if I have read the clip properly) in that year’s Seafair Marine Parade.
HERE Ron extends the reach of EDGE CLIPPINGS with a link – touch it here – to the collection from which the images above were selected.
(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.
A look into early Kenmore along the “Pacific Highway” to Bothell.
Home here to Kenmore Realty in the 1930s this charming office survived on Bothell Way two lots north of 63rd Ave. NE until it was recently replaced by the Chinese cuisine restaurant. Photo Courtesy of Doris Clements
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
(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.]

(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.
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.
This is Ellis scene No. 1011; Cooper has more than 3,000 Ellis cards. For the collector Ellis is a great confounder, for he used some numbers more than once. Ellis’ son Clifford carried on his father’s recording into the 1970s. Cooper suggests that their most popular card shows a young Clifford riding a geoduck. While that card is still for sale, still we do not have a copy. (photo courtesy of John Cooper)
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.)
(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 [2005] told that her book had set a record by outselling Harry Potter — at Madison Park Books.
Werner Leggenhager took his photograph of the Moscow Restaurant at 7365 Lakeview Blvd. E. in the mid-1950s. He looks to the west. With the construction of the Seattle Freeway (I-5) here in the early 1960s, Lakeview Blvd was routed on a high bridge that crosses above I-5 and offers one of the few accesses to Capitol Hill.  Across Lake Union part of Queen Anne Hill appears far left.
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.
(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.

11 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Jolly Roger on Lake City Way”

  1. Paul,

    I loved seeing this. My house, which has been in my family since the 1940s, is two blocks away. I don’t know about the downstairs, and I saw the “cribs” which were used for, well, you know…
    When the place burned down some felt it was arson. It’s been over ten years since I located clips for you in the Times Library. I still have your inscribed “Now & Then” books which occupy a prominent place on my book shelf. Have you been in the Denny building yet? If so how do you like? What do you see in the future for the Times?

  2. I grew up with Orvile and Nell. We called him Bill I have lot of things from the Jolly Roger. I sold the buiding after Bill died and Nellie was in a home. If you wat more info, I will be glad dt share ith you. Lucille Parshall

    1. Lucille,
      Just in the chance you get a notice on this, can you contact me. I have the JR though it is in serious disrepair. I am being forced to cut JR up for disposal. When 911 happened, I took a serious hit at Boeing and was moved from my tooling job to a position that reduced my income by about a thousand dollars a month. I could no longer float JR at the Everett marina so bought a piece of land which took what remaining money I had to store JR on. The city has told me I must get rid of JR or face fines.

      Gary Bovey

  3. Hello

    I enjoyed your article on the Jolly Roger, too. I can say for sure that I have personally seen doors–large & double, nearly as wide as a narrow lane for traffic–in the basement that purportedly led to what is now the Chinese restaurant, I think the 7 Seas, across the street to the south.

    I worked there for about 3 years in the late 70’s or early 80’s when it was open and operating as a blues club. The folks I was told owned it were named Cliff & Judy. The fellow managing it was Patrick Lynch, a wonderful guy with an encyclopedic knowledge of the blues. We had great local, regional, and national blues artists come & entertain. It was a really fabulous time. I believe Big Mama Thornton played her last, or one of her last, gigs there.

    Some nights after hours we would go exploring in the building, and once we went down to the basement and saw not only those doors but also cubicles they called ‘cribs’ that were said to have been private areas for prostitutes working there back in the day. They resembled small horse stalls but with benches in them if I remember correctly. Nice wood.

    I also have been up in the top tower from which one could truly see for miles in all directions.

    My grandmother told me she used to go there for entertainment during Prohibition. She said someone would stay up in the tower as a lookout for law enforcement. When someone of that kind was spotted everyone would go down to the basement and through the tunnel to the restaurant across the street and south, which was called The Coon Chicken Inn at the time.

    After the Jolly Roger that I worked for
    closed, it again reopened for a time as another Chinese restaurant, which operated until the fire. At the time I thought the fire might have been intended to get around the landmark status. I had heard talk that nothing inside could be changed due to that status and that the then owners or operators had wanted to do something with the kitchen but couldn’t. Don’t know whether this is true or not, but that was the story I heard. I was heartbroken when they took it down. It seemed such a shame to lose such a unique place. Thanks for telling me some history I didn’t know.

  4. Hey Dorps,

    You’re missing a whole chunk of the building’s tenure as a blues joint. I opened for John Hammond on my birthday in 1984. Big Mama Thornton did, in fact play there, but she wasn’t well. People thought she was drinking white Russians and slurring her words from the alcohol. In fact, she was drinking straight milk.

    In September/October, probably 1986 (the poster isn’t dated), the club featured Corky Siegel, Jr. Cadillac, Dick Powell, Curtis Salgado, Isaac Scott, Elizabeth Cotten, Tom McFarland, Sweet Talkin’ Jones and James Cotton, among others.

    The Washington State Liquor Control Board was the Evil Empire behind the closing of the Jolly Roger. The club applied for a license to sell hard liquor, but the 1906 Blue Laws still haunted local consciousness: you couldn’t drink hard liquor in a tavern, only in a licensed bar or restaurant. To qualify as a restaurant you had to sell a certain percentage of food (40%) to booze (60%). The day the Jolly Roger closed, it was 1% shy of the food sales requirement. When I asked Pat Lynch why they couldn’t make up the 1%, he told me it would have cost the club more than they could have made back. So they elected to close.

    Pat went on to manage the Owl Cafe in Ballard, another pretty good blues club, til it morphed into Conor Byrne, an Irish joint. Now (as of 1/1/19) we’re about to lose the Highway 99 Blues Club after 15 years, thanks to a greedy landlord. Doncha love how Seattle supports its artists and musicians?

  5. Found this thread looking for history on the old Jolly Roger. I’m only 50 but remember it from when we moved to Lake City near Nathan Hale in the early 80’s from Capitol Hill.

    I recall the sign on the outside of this marvelous purple club when I first looked out the window of an old Dodge Coronet. It said, “TONIGHT GLADYS KNIGHT AND THE PIPS.” I knew who she was because my parents played a lot of records. Motown and Elvis to Led Zepellin. Great times!

    Yang’s Drive-In across the street served delicious Chinese eat in and take out for decades and I’m sad that its time was up a few years ago. It was inevitable though. There’s a beer place there now that is supposed to offer good growlers. I’ll check them out soon.

    On another note, remember the curio shop up by where Northgate way dumps into LCW? There’s an acupuncture place there now. I do like Tubs Subs next door so we’ve got something going for us. I miss the Seattle I grew up in but I guess every generation could say the same thing.

    1. Ying’s was the name. I worked there in the early 80’s as the “American” cashier – phonecall taker – delivery driver. It was hilarious.

  6. When I was a child, we had family friends in Bothell (we lived there when I was born; but moved to Portage Bay when I was one) anyway, when driving home when I saw the Jolly Roger, I knew we were getting close to home. Later in the early 80’s I went there several times to see blues musicians. I miss the place. The pink stucco art deco was unique.

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