Seattle Now & Then: Smith Cove Glass Works

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Like Smith Cove’s own slim version of the Colossus of Rhodes, a yellow brick chimney – the remains of a glass factory - stood for about forty years at the “gate” to the mud flats of Interbay. (Courtesy Florence Drummond)
NOW: Most likely the chimney was destroyed in the early 1940s when “Finntown” and all else near it was removed by the navy for its Smith Cove supply base. The Admiral’s House, seen here perched on the graded bluff, was built in 1944. Jean Sherrard has kept his “repeat” wide enough to include the west end of the Garfield Street Bridge, better known as the Magnolia Bridge.


Long ago a Californian named Florence Drummond, once a “child of Finntown”, sent a friend a handful of small captioned snapshots of that “Mud Bay” community on the shores of Smith Cove, and her friend shared them with me. Many of its floating homes, and beach cottages were concentrated below the Magnolia and Queen Anne bluffs that marked, respectively, the west and east openings to what were once the tideflats of Interbay.

This 1922 Drummond print is also the most intimate record I’ve seen of the glass works impressive landmark chimney, which here rises high above the squatting neighborhood clinging with it close to the then still exposed cliff at the southeast corner of Magnolia. The wood frame factory once attached to the tower is gone, unless it hung around reconstituted in these salvaged quarters.

The glass works had a fitful history.  Researcher Ron Edge found perhaps its earliest footprint on an 1899 U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey map, where for the benefit of surveyors and navigators is it captioned “yellow chimney.” Edge notes, “At least we know its color.”

The 1899 NOAA map shared by Ron Edge. The sand bar steaming from the Magnolia point can be found in several Smith Cove maps including the one that follows directly below: the 1894 "real roads" map, which Ron expresses a special affection for, as do I.
McKee's "Real Roads" map shuns real estate boasting and features only what he found on the ground. Here there is as yet no glass factory. The map does include the sand bar, the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern spur to the point and a sample of the land around, reaching from Salmon Bay, top center, to Fremont top right, and Mercer Street on the bottom. "Boulevard" was then the name for the neighborhood build around Dravus Street.
Here the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern spur is shown concluding at the railroad's coal bunkers, which probably did not amount to as much as the map suggests. There is as yet no glass factory. Later the factory's builders no doubt chose the site not only for the sand they believe was suitable for making glass but also for the railroad spur that made building the plant much easier and also promised to be ready to help deliver their dreamed of bottles and such.
This early-to-mid 1890s map shows a delicate rendering of the sand spit, no glass factory, no coal bunkers, but does show the S.L.S.E. spur.
While concentrating on real estate this 1899 Polk Map includes the by now Seattle and International spur and marks the glass factory - identified on the full map with a legend - as No. 16. Thanks to Ron Edge for all of them.

The works may have had more names – including Northwest, Puget Sound, and Pioneer – than glassware.  Whatever the moniker, the factory rarely appeared in the press, except for litigation among a string of owners, and one sizable 1903 story in which Seattle’s then super-developer James Moore (of the theatre) trumpeted his plans to get it going with new equipment.  It seems that the works were one of Moore’s few fizzle s, but still the yellow chimney survived as a helpful marker.

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Trouble at the Glass Factory. A clip from the Seattle Times.

In her letter Florence Drummond makes note of a Finnish necessity: the sauna or steam bath.  John Reddin, the Seattle Times humorist from the 50s and 60s, remembered several of them in Finntown, frequented mostly by Finnish bachelors, whom he described as thereby “neat and clean.”  He also lists “boisterous speakeasies” and “bootleg joints all around the Smith Cove area . . .That’s where the action was.”  By a curious contrast, included among Drummonds snapshots is one of her posing grandmother, another of a line-up of no less than thirty-one children attending five-year-old Wanda Corbett’s birthday party on a Finntown boardwalk, and a helpfully captioned snap of courting Elma Jakkaneu and Charles Ivana on a Mud Bay footbridge.  She explains, “later they married.”

PAGE ONE of Drummond's letter


I’ve included a few other glimpses of Smith Cove – from further south, looking towards the yacht club, and through the chain link fence of the Port of Seattle storage yard.

Another view Port storage

Anything to add, Paul?

Certainly Jean.  We will start by continuing with some other examples of Florence Drummond’s snapshots in Finn Town’s 1920s. A string of 10 related features will follow concluding with another look into Finn Town – the part of it on the Queen Anne side of Smith Cove.

This is an example of how Jean and I sometimes communicate in searching for the proper prospect for his "repeats." It is a combination of our subject - the glass factory - and in this example a space shot captured from Google Earth, and a detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map which we feature in toto on this site.
1912 Baist


This detail pulled from the A. Curtis Smith Cove "classic" discussed below shows - and fairly clearly - the glass factory at the point, but no smoke is rolling from its landmark chimney like the white puffings trailing a Great Northern Railway passenger train heading south to its waterfront Seattle terminus.
Having momentarily lost the black-&-white original for the A. Curtis subject we substitute this colored postcard.
The "now" I found - sort of. The print is not marked for a date, and I have visited that Kinnear Park prospect more than twice. I will speculate and propose a mid-1990s date for this, which would make it latter-day for me.


(First appeared in Pacific 4-17-1983)

Photograph number 6577 is one of the some 30,000 negatives included in the Asahel Curtis collection at the Washington State Museum and/or Historical Society in Tacoma. Asahel was the younger brother of the celebrated Edward Curtis whose romantic posed photographs of American natives will currently cost you a pretty sum. However, number 6577 cost me only a little more than four dollars (in the early 1980s) paid to the Washington Historical Society, and it is easily one of the most popular images in the history of local photography.

Asahel’s photograph, actually, has its own variety of staged romance. Besides its pleasing composition, this scene resonates with a local industrial drama, which was staged here on Smith’s Cove in 1905, the year the younger Curtis recorded this view from Queen Anne Hill. In the foreground is the Oriental Limited rushing its passengers from St. Paul and all points west over the last few miles of trestle into Seattle. In a few months it will be trailing its white ribbon of steam under Seattle while passing through the Great Northern’s new tunnel. And soon it will exhale its last transcontinental gasps alongside the new King Street Station, which in 1905 was still under construction.

Another detail from the Asahel Curtis subject.

Beyond are the Great Northern docks and between them the largest steamers in the world, the railroad’s Minnesota and Dakota. They are being prepared for their trans-Pacific routine of delivering raw cotton to the orient and returning with raw silk.

The director for this industrial drama was James Jerome Hill, the Great Northern’s “empire builder.” Years before, Hill discovered that “one acre of Washington timber will furnish as many carloads of freight as 120 years of wheat from a Dakota farm.” So when the first Great Northern freight train rolled into Seattle in 1893, Hill was anxious to tum it right around and head east with carloads of lumber. This was a turn-around from the old notion that railroads to the West were built to carry people and cargo in that direction and then return east almost empty.

Another prospect on the Great Northern pier and its oversize Pacific steamers.

In 1905 J. J. Hill was moving his show onto the biggest stage. Acting like Atlas, Hill developed his double docks at Smith Cove to be the shoulders upon which the world would turn. Having moved the country around, Hill was here attempting to revolutionize international trade. For 300 years most trade with the orient had passed India and Africa. Now with the encouragement of Great Northern steam on both land and sea, the empire builder taught some of it to follow the shorter great circle route past Alaska. Here the perishable silk was unloaded from the jumbo steamers Minnesota and Dakota and sent rushing east on trains that had priority over all other service including mail, passenger, and that mainstay, lumber.

James Hill

In 1853 Dr. Henry A. Smith built a log cabin at his namesake cove. Smith’s arrival was less mighty than the Minnesota’s but he stayed longer. For 63 years, Smith was easily one of the most remarkable characters on Puget Sound. Most of that time he spent at Smith Cove. Today he is best remembered as an ethnologist and linguist who “composed” Chief Seattle’s prophetic treaty speech. But Smith was also a surgeon who successfully used hypnotism as anesthesia, a psychotherapist who encouraged dream analysis for solving personal problems, a poet who published in Sunset Magazine under the pen name Paul Garland, a botanist who grafted the area’s first fruit trees, and a  universally-loved gentleman farmer of whom one of his seven daughters, lone, wrote: “Papa had a passionate love for the beauties of nature, was kind to all the farm animals and they, in turn, seemed to understand and love him.”

Henry Smith

Henry Smith was King County’s first school superintendent and a very rare statesman who seemed to inspire absolutely no resentment. As a territorial legislator for several terms, he still “never sought office, never asked for a vote and was never defeated in an election.”

When the 22-year-old Smith first arrived at Smith Cove, the highest tides filled potholes for sun-warmed swimming farther north than today’s Galer Street. When he died here at his Interbay home in 1915 at the age of 85, it was from a chill caught while setting out tomato plants in his garden. At that time the tide flats of Smith Cove were being filled in by the cove’s new owner, the Port of Seattle. The consequences were the half-mile long piers 90 and 91 which were the longest earth-filled piers in the world. The lucrative silk trade, which J. J. Hill had originally channeled through Smith Cove, was severely torn in 1940 by a filament made from coal with characteristics of strength and elasticity called nylon.

Years later the Navy took Smith Cove from the Port of Seattle for a condemnation fee of 3 million dollars. The Port bought it back in the mid-1970s for about 15 million and added another four million in improvements, including Smith Cove Park. There in the spring of 1978 a plaque was placed honoring the remarkable Dr. Henry A. Smith.



(First appeared in Pacific June 4, 2000)

This maritime scene is both delicate – afternoon light shapes the vessels and scatters upon the water – and monumental by reason of its largest subject, the steamship Dakota.

On the heels of its sister ship, the Minnesota, the Dakota was built in 1903 in Connecticut for the steamship arm of the Great Northern Railway and brought around the horn to its home port between the railroad’s long piers at Smith Cove in Elliott Bay. It began its first trip to Yokohama, Japan, in September 1905.

The steel-hulled cargo-passenger steamers were by far the largest vessels on the Pacific Ocean. Eleven decks high, they could hold the equivalent of 107 freight trains of 35 cars each. In fact, on its first voyage, the Dakota delivered more than one locomotive to Japan.

Clarence R. Langstaff, a carpenter and longtime resident of Magnolia, recorded this exquisite view in late 1905 or 1906. On the right is the 283-footsteel-hulled Oregon, oldest passenger vessel on the West Coast, built in Chester, Pa., in 1878.

Something beside this Smith Cove slip and the trail of smoke ties thes vessels. At midnight on Sept. 13,1906, while heading for Nome, Capt. Horace E. Soule ran the Oregon onto an uncharted rock near the entrance to Prince William Sound. On the clear afternoon of March 3 the next year, Capt. Emil Francke drove the Dakota onto a well-charted reef about 40 miles south Yokohama. Although the big ship was running at only 14 knots, its inertia was considerable, and the reef sliced through about a third of the Dakota’s 622 feet.

All the passengers were saved – but not the ships, most of their cargo and Francke’s job. While Soule was not held at fault, Francke lost his license and wound up working as a watchman on the San Francisco waterfront.

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Smith Cove Fill Quartet from the 1960s. Reading left-to-right top row first, the years are 1962, 1964, 1967, and 1969. (All photographed by Lawton Gowey)


Ascending from Citizens Light & Power and beyond the Great Northern dock a glimpse may be had of the glass factory below the Magnolia bluff.


(First appeared in Pacific, April 7, 1996)

The quality of life for the hill folk living along the sides and summit of Queen Anne Hill has periodically been threatened from below. The recent hubbub over unloading acres of foreign automobiles onto Interbay’s parking lots was preceded by more than a century of railroad racket climbing the western slope of the hill. The Great Northern laid its Seattle yard down below in 1903.

The peace, quiet and clean air were peculiarly threatened at the beginning of this century, when the Citizens Light and Power Company began to drive piles for a gas plant just offshore in Smith Cove. Since the manufacture of gas from burning coal was a notoriously foul process, the residents of Queen Anne Hill had a right to be wary. They also had the political clout to win.

The gas plant was eventually built – it appears in the “then” view – but only after the company installed the first downdraft smokeless boiler furnaces used on the West Coast. With this innovation the plant spewed neither smoke nor smell, and since its height didn’t intrude on Queen Anne’s view of the Olympics, the gas plant was a good neighbor. (Nearby, years later, the Port of Seattle’s much taller grain elevator did screen this view in spite of objections by Queen Anne residents.)

Looking north along the trolley trestle paralleling Elliott Avenue.

The plant’s innovations were cited by Citizens’ business rival, the Seattle Gas and Electric Company, in its attempt to stop its new competitors from laying pipe into the older company’s preserve: the Central Business District. The SGEC claimed that the new gas from Smith Cove was more lethal and thus responsible for the slew of gas suicides reported in the newspapers. In fact, investigators determined that the victims did not discriminate in their choice of gas and were taking it from both pipes.


The Magnolia Bridge, brand new and still rising above the wreckage of the timber trestle is replaced. The Glass Factory chimney can be found. (Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archive.)


(First appeared in Pacific, March 24, 1991)

When it was completed in 1930, the. sweep of the Magnolia Bridge as it ascends west of Pier 91 was considered a modern engineering wonder: At nearly 4,000 feet, it was the largest of only three reinforced concrete spans built anywhere. .

The big bridge was first proposed six years earlier when the West Wheeler Street Bridge was set on fire by a spark from a Great Northern locomotive passing beneath it. At first, the Seattle city council refused to build a high ridge to the bluff, since, it reasoned, only 4,000 people lived west of Interbay and south of Ballard. The city chose a humbler alternative by extending the West Garfield Street Bridge with a timber trestle that reached Magnolia at an elevation just a few feet above high tide.

Recorded in 1929 - its last year - the Garfield Street bridge, seen here from Queen Anne Hill, headed west from 15th Ave. N.W. across the Smith Cove entrance to Interbay before turning abruptly north to reach upland Magnolia at a low elevation.
Looking northeast from Magnolia into the snarl of trestles that negotiated the threshold between Smith Cove and Interbay before the 1930 concrete span surmounted it. Bottom-right are vestiges of Finn Town, aka Finntown, aka Mudtown.
Dedication Day freedoms
Seattle Times clip from Oct. 20, 1925.

Magnolians, however, organized the Garfield Bridge Club and eventually persuaded the city to replace the trestle with the soaring trusses shown here. The strewn timbers of the temporary low bridge, cluttering the base of the new span, are also evident.

The topmost view of the bridge was photographed Dec. 22, 1930, two weeks after the high bridge was dedicated with band music, the usual speeches and a procession of motorists and pedestrians. Then the tidelands of Interbay still reached far north of Garfield Street, requiring the bridge to be built above piles driven 20 to 40 feet into the ground. Now the tide basin has been reclaimed and blacktopped as a parking lot – most often for Japanese imports.

[Note: The public works destroyer earthquake of a few years back damaged the Magnolia Bridge so that it was closed for repairs, and locals had to abide the long detour over the Dravus Street viaduct several blocks to the north.]

Looking over Finn Town to the Port of Seattle piers and beyond. This was recorded from the nearly-new Magnolia Bridge. The dark outline of the Glass Factory appears far-right, and part of the new bridge, far-left. Courtesy Ron Edge.
The new bridge seen from Queen Anne Hill. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
Frank Shaw's Dec. 22, 1979 record of the Port of Seattle's parking for imports.


In the Lowman family album of Victorian-era snapshots from which this subject was copied it is captioned "1887, Interbay."
The Interbay P-Patch a few years past.

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The Henry Smith home at Interbay

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Emily Inez Denny's painting of the Smith home and its setting on Interbay. Magnolia is on the right, Elliott Bay beyond, and the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railroad is heading north before he turns east for Lake Washington and reaching what is now the Burke Gilman Recreation Trail. Note the sand spit seen in the maps near the top. (Courtesy of MOHAI)


Looking south toward Smith Cove from the long-since destroyed Wheeler Street trestle for motorcars, the old Garfield Street trestle can be faintly detected on the horizon.  Left of center is the sign of the Portland Cordage Company written on the west side of the long factory designed to make rope from hemp.  (Historical picture courtesy of John Cox) With neither bridge nor tower to lift him as high as the plank floor of the timber trestle that once ran in line with Wheeler Street, Jean Sherrard substituted a stepladder and a ten-foot extension pole held by him high above his 6’7” frame.  He nearly made it while looking directly into the sun.


In “Magnolia, Making More Memories,” the second volume on Magnolia history published recently by that neighborhood’s historical society, Hal Will returns to the rich story of transportation along and across the Interbay valley that separates the hills of Magnolia from those of Queen Anne.  (Note the clay cliffs on the left.)   In the first volume, “Magnolia, Memories and Milestones” Will wrote about “Magnolia’s Wooden Trestles.”  Now in the second volume he goes after its “early railroad days.”

The first railroad here was the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern whose rails first crossed the soggy length of this valley in 1887 heading north on the bed that here supports a coupled string of tank cars.  The SLSER originated on the Seattle waterfront and hoped to continue as far as both Spokane and British Columbia.  Railroad history is well stocked with ironies, and here’s one. The SLSER was Seattle’s robust answer to the neglect of the Tacoma-oriented Northern Pacific Railroad. According to Will’s caption, “at the time of this photo, the track [with the posing train] was owned and used by Northern Pacific Railroad.” The Great Northern used the tracks on the right.

At first I imagined that this photo was recorded looking south from a water tower.  The truth I discovered in Hal Will’s essay on trestles noted above.  Here the unnamed photographer stood on the Wheeler Street timber trestle that ran the width of the valley, east-west from 15th Ave. west to Thorndyke Ave. West.  The trestles one big span crossed the tracks here.  Will gives this picture a ca. 1918 date.  The trestle was a total loss to fire in 1924.

A photographer from the city's public works department took this view on May 17, 1914 and labeled it for the Wheeler Street bridge that was planned for the Interbay tidelands that then still reached far north of Smith Cove. This view looks northeast from Magnolia.
An early 1920s aerial of the developing Port of Seattle facilities at Smith Cove also shows, at the top, the Wheeler Street trestle.
The Wheeler Street Bridge from the Magnolia side.


Looking south on Elliott with West Mercer Place on the left and tidelands still on the right.
Jean and I used this subject in our - and Berangere's - "Repeat Photography" exhibit that is now entering its last month at MOHAI. We did not use this "now" but rather one that Jean took recently. This I have dated 1996 and I recorded it with my arm out the window of whatever car I was driving then. Jean, I think, actually got out of his car..


(First appeared in Pacific, Jan. 6, 1985)

It was a Wednesday afternoon late in the summer of 1921 when a photographer from the Seattle Engineering Department drove out to where West Mercer Place descends from Queen Anne Hill’s Kinnear Park to the waterfront and shot this week’s historical scene.

The Mercer Place opening to the waterfront was cut through in 1890 when Thomas Burke and Daniel Gilman (remembered now in the Burke-Gilman Trail) started their ambitious service on the West Street and North End Electric Railway. It was built to move workers and settlers between downtown Seattle and their new manufacturing town, Ballard. It was one of the first interurban trolley lines in America.

The historical photograph looks south from where the timber trestle, called Water Street, turned with the municipal trolley lines for its climb to the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood. For more than 30 years the six-mile trolley line ran from downtown Seattle through Belltown and Lower Queen Anne, returned to the waterfront at this Mercer Place intersection and continued on to Ballard. For much of its two mile run between this Mercer Place intersection and Salmon Bay – part of it thru the Interbay wetland – the trolleys ran atop a low trestle from 20 to 60 feet off shore. For the entire distance between Interbay and Pike Street the waterfront was often home to squatters shacks and a scatter of sawmills and boat builders.  In places, like that seen here, the waterfront was separated from the city by a dense greenbelt.

The BURKE BLDG northwest corner of Marion St. and Second Ave.

The trolley cars were powered by electricity generated in the basement of Burke’s namesake building at Second Avenue and Marion Street (now the site of the Federal Building). But the power was insufficient, and as the cars approached Ballard, their speed would decrease steadily, the lights in the Burke Building would dim and its elevators would slow to a crawl. One account of this slow ride to Ballard claims that the passengers took to carrying guns for protection against muggers who would crash from the forest along Queen Anne Hill to jump aboard the poking trolley for a stickup.

A different kind of danger and speed characterized the one hilly part of this nickel trip to Ballard. At West Mercer Place, after a speedy descent, cars occasionally would jump the track at the curve onto Water Street and, at high tide, take a bath in the bay.

By 1940, the rails had been pulled up and trackless trolleys were gliding on pneumatic tires along a concrete paved Elliott Avenue and a long way from sand, sawmills and shacks. Now only the greenbelt remains.

Looking north (towards Ballard) along the Elliott Ave. trestle. The streetcar trestle is to the left, and Magnolia on the horizon. The glass works tower is there. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)


Another tax photo from the WPA survey of the late 1930s of all taxable structures in King County. (Courtesy, Washington State Archive, Bellelvue Branch - for all of these.)
Jessica Dodge washing dishes in her studio home at the Full Circle Artists Coop in 1998.


(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 4, 1998)

You may recall writer David Berger’s feature “Site as Folk Art,” which appeared Dec. 7 in this magazine. As fate would have it, two days after we first followed Berger’s reconnoiter through the charmed land of the Full Circle Artists Coop, his subjects got their eviction notice.

The city of Seattle plans to route Elliott Avenue traffic destined for the proposed Immunex plant at Interbay up and over Elliott and the Burlington Northern railroad tracks that run between that thoroughfare and the Smith Cove piers. This overpass – called a “flyover” in the plans – would cut directly through the artists’ homes, studios and gardens now nestled against the Queen Anne Hill greenbelt.

Another Tax photo from the 1930s.

The cottage in the foreground (on the top) of this week’s comparison is the most northerly of the structures at the site. Its materials and houseboat design suggest it may have been dragged ashore during the reclamation of Smith Cove. The legal description defacing the older view was scrawled by a Works Progress Administration photographer during the WPA’s late-1930s inventory of every taxable structure in King County. “Little Finland” was then a popular name for this tidelands neighborhood. The larger structure on the right is still home to a sauna that for many pre-Full Circle years was a commercial operation.

Jessica Dodge - a friend of mine since the 1970s - in her studio when it was still in Finn Town.

The real splendor of this site – the folk art – is on the far, hidden side of this scene. Gardens for flowers , vegetables, sculpture and found objects meander between studios and greenbelt. This growing collage of plants and artifacts was included last spring in the Pacific Northwest Art Council’s Artist Garden Tour.

This site has also been reviewed favorably by a number of City Council members, nourishing a hope that at least part of this charmed land will be saved by turning the flyover into a “fly-nearby.”

Jessica with two other members of the Full Circle Artists Coop - one of them named Walt - when it was still below the Queen Anne Hill greenbelt.



(First appeared in Pacific Jan 12, 1992)

The brick shell of the N & S Foundry is one of the few early-century constructions that survives on the waterfront at the base of Queen Anne Hill. The two-story brick construction that appears on the left of the “then” scene, although similar, is not the foundry but the N ‘& S Machine Works, built in 1902. The foundry was added in 1906 on the lot to the south, or to the right and behind the construction site for the wooden boat. That means this picture was made between 1902 and 1906.  (Remembering that this was all composed first 20 years ago, I now imagine that none of this survives, but would be pleased to learn otherwise.)

The Machine Works, left, and the Foundry side by side ca. 1910.

After 12 years of manufacturing bricks in New Zealand, the German immigrant Robert Niedergesaess moved to Seattle in 1887 to continue making bricks at his Seattle Brick and Tile Co. His three sons, Otto, Wilhelm and Wilson, soon moved up the industrial ladder to electrical engineering. With financial help from their father, they formed the Niedergesaess and Sons Electric Co.

The Niedergesaess boys took advantage of their waterfront site to build boats. There was, as yet, no off-shore landfill – Elliott Avenue -separating them from Elliott Bay. (The historical photographer is on the Niedergesaess dock with his back to the bay,)

The sons separated their business in the early 1920s, with Otto moving to New York to manufacture propellers, Wilhelm staying put with the dynamos, and Wilson moving two blocks south on Elliott to open the Wilson Machine Works, a business now run by Wilson’s grandson, Robert D. Wilson. (Much earlier, Wilson Robert John Niedergesaess, tired of pronouncing and spelling out his last name for the tongue-tied, dropped the Niedergesaess and swung his first name, Wilson, to last.)


A last glimpse of the Glass Factory chimney and the saltwater flood into Interbay as seen from Queen Anne Hill circa 1914.
Smith Cove aerial Oct. 14, 1970 (Courtesy Port of Seattle)




1917  Soap Lake Wash. Feby 5, 1917:    Sister  Am very sorry I did not get to say Good By the morning I left but I was late getting up.  Milo C   To Mrs. Frank Townsend, Burlington, RFD No. 1 Wash. [Postmark Feb. 6, 1917 Soap Lake WASH]


1937  Dearl Harold,  I am enjoying soap lake fine.  I like the lake to Swimin too. Mary  To Master Harold Wieland, Pinehurst, Washington Box 122  [Postmark Jul 20, 1937 Everett WASH]


1950 Soap Lake Mon. May 29  Dear Phene (?),  We will be Home next week – having perfect weather that I ____ let you know that I shall plan to be at the banquet.  I hope you can get out a big crowd “the more the merrier” Give my love to John and keep a lot for yourself – Anna Rolleen Johnson  To Mrs. Phine (?) Buckley Lowell, Washington [Postmark May 29, 1950 Soap Lake WASH]



Paris chronicle #39 Message on a building

Usually, during their restoration,  buildings are covered with a tarpaulin, to print  them,  or using giant adhesives has become a new dynamic communication, and like this  Paris walls are transformed in a gallery of images.

Recently I photographed during a weekend the event of laying giant adhesive 1160m2 on a building 62 meters high.

Artif, a rope construction company achieved this feat in one day for the company Amundi announcing its next installation in the building Pasteur near the Gare Montparnasse.

En général, pendant leur restauration, les immeubles sont recouverts d’une bâche de protection. L’utilisation de bâches imprimées, d’adhésifs géants  est devenu un moyen dynamique de communication, ainsi les murs de Paris sont transformés en une galerie d’images.

Récemment j’ai photographié pendant un week-end la pose évènementielle d’un adhésif géant  de 1160m2 sur un immeuble d’une hauteur  62 m .

ARTIF, société de travaux à corde a réalisé cet exploit en une journée pour la société Amundi qui annonçait sa prochaine installation dans l’immeuble Pasteur près de la Gare Montparnasse.



ARTIF crew on the top of the building

On Sunday afternoon !


HELIX Vol. 1 No.3&1/2 – May 4, 1967

Don Edge, once again, did the coloring of our symbolizing bug or representive logo – the masthead.

We continue to turn the screw – of Helix – reaching now the fourth issue, which is curiously numbered “3&1/2.”  This will be explained in the audio link. At the bottom of it all are several snapshots scanned from Helix negatives that I wound up with after the paper folded.  We will try to identify the photographer – later.  Perhaps it was Gary Finholt.  Gary?  A few of these are also printed in the gnarly centerfold of Issue Three and One/half.

[audio:|titles=Helix Vol 1 No 3.5]

Artists Gertrude Pacific aka Trudi and Ted Jonsson. Note the issue of Helix that Ted is holding with his left hand. And Trudi is barefoot.
One of a few circle dances that was launched.
Our Norwegian angle-protector, perhaps, under the park's big spreading tree. Imagine bongo drums here for this was a most p0pular place - under this tree - for drum jams.
Flower Isness Fashions
I believe that Tim Harvey is far right, with the rolled up white sleeves. Tim was one of the stalwart-editors for Helix.
Seattle Magazine - and sometimes Helix too - photographer Frank Denman is aiming on the right. Oh the paisley! bottom-right.
While I remember two faces here I cannot name them.
On stage
The flutist's name eludes me, but - unless I am mistaken - I once threw his cat across a set in a duplication of the Dada Moment titled "The Dali Atomicus" and photographed by Philippe Haisman in 1948, which includes several flying cats and furniture too. The cat ran up a tree and was not noticed, I believe, until later when "our subject" returned home looking for his pet. By then his somewhat abusive friends, myself included, had left unwitting and so innocent but only sort of.


This I pleasantly discovered while scanning the few Be-in negatives I could find includes John Reynolds with beads, bells, Spanish hat, thongs and comfortable clothes, the Far East scholar who named Helix "Helix." I remember the woman that's with him, but not her name.



Seattle Now & Then: The Beaumont Apartments

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Beaumont, upper-left at 1512 Summit Ave. in 1920, was one of hundreds of apartment houses built on First and Capitol Hills in the early 20th Century. Typical of many were two bays that like these on the Beaumont climbed to the roof. The Beaumont’s bays are also given ornamental crowns beyond the roof. Between the bays and framed at the center, open balconies lead to the hallways on the apartment’s top four floors, offering breezeways in the summer. (Courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections, SMR 149)
NOW: In the 1950s the Beaumont was renamed the Summit Arms. While in Jean Sherrard’s repeat a street sign, upper right, conveniently orients us, most of the Beaumont/Summit Arms is hidden behind the non-descript structure that takes the place of the elegant Union Gasoline Service Station that once held the northwest corner of Summit and Pike.

This week’s Capitol Hill subject is an apt example of how Diana James in choosing the one hundred local apartment buildings to feature in her book “Shared Walls” could sometimes be influenced by an illustration.  James explains,

“Everything has a context but you cannot always find it in a photograph.  Here you can.  My choice, the Beaumont Apartments hovers above the appealing Pike Street Gas Station and, in the photo’s composition, between the Ford Dealer on the northeast corner of Summit and Pike and the porch of the large dark home on the left. I was intrigued that the building has stood there forever preserved.”

In her essay on the Beaumont Apartments she reveals that after the contractor F.G. Winquist built it in 1909 he moved in with his wife, five children and three servants.  Of their apartment building’s twenty-seven three- and four-room units, the Winquists may have needed several.

The Beaumont’s architects, Elmer Ellsworth Green and William C. Aiken, are mentioned in the book “Shaping Seattle Architecture.” Aiken later helped with the design of the Yesler Terrace Housing Project, while “Green designed dozens of houses and apartment houses in Seattle neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, and Mount Baker.”

Two weeks ago we featured the Hermosa Apartments in Belltown (on the edge of it), another of Diana James’ 100 choices.  Overlooking Tilikum Place it also had “context.” The Beaumont is part of the city’s most generous swath of apartments that were built conveniently along the western slopes of First and Capitol Hills, a quick trolley ride to downtown.  The Beaumont was advertised in The Seattle Times for July 28, 1913 as featuring “Close-in choice apartments, 10 minutes walk to 4th and Pike . . . strictly modern, rent reasonable.”


Seeing that so much of the Beaumont was obscured in the ‘Now’ photo, I walked around the corner and snapped a couple extra shots.

Looking at the Beaumont from Pike. The eagle-eyed (click to enhance vision) may note that Theater Schmeater is just next door to the south.
The Full Beaumont(y)

Anything to add, Paul?

Yes Jean.

First four links  – the four next photos below – to other past blog features on related subjects, most having to do with First and Capitol Hills.  For instance, the first of these – directly below – was featured Feb. 11 this year. It begins with a description of the First Church Christ Scientist and strings below it several other features.   Here’s the list, and in order.

– Queen Anne 7th Church Christian Science

– Methodists at 16th and John

– Tabernacle Baptist 15th N.E. and Harrison

– Unitarians on Capitol Hill at Boylston

– Nels & Tekla Nelson’s home on Boylston & Olive

– Broadway H.S.

– Fire station NO. 7 15th and Harrison

– Broadway Coach Madison and Harvard 1887

– Burke Mansion

– Cornish & Buses at Broadway and Pine

– Fire Hill Fire house No. 3 at Alder St. and Terry Ave.

– Roycroft Theatre 9th Ave E. and Roy St.

– Garbage Collection 1918 at Belmont Ave.

– Bagley Family promenade on 12th at Thomas, 1905

– Pike Apartments, Pike and 12th

(Again, the four photos below may be moused or clicked as links to their stories – and others.)

Jean has learned that Phil Smart’s Mercedes Dealership has been sold, and will be moved to an Airport Way location.  And so the last stalwart of the car culture on Seattle’s Auto Row (The Pike Street part of it) will be gone.


Looking west on Pike through its intersection with Summit. This view can be compared to the primary feature look (above) into the same intersection but from its southwest side.
A repeat of the scene above it and not so old – about six or seven years.


Looking west on Pike Street through its intersection with Summit Avenue we get a glimpse of what this street became once the motorcar began to reshape just about every part of our culture. On the far right is a small sign attached to a corner brick column that reads “The Ford Corner,” and across the street is a Union brand service station. The red tile roof of this fanciful Spanish-styled gas station is a sign of the prestige connected with owning a car in 1919 – the likely date of this photograph – although automobiles were then quickly becoming commonplace, especially the Model T Ford. (Note the black sedan on the right.)

In 1915, automobile licenses were issued to 6,979 people in Seattle. Five years later the number had multiplied more than six times to 44,046. By then the greatest variety of servers and sellers that supported the auto trade chose to park themselves on Seattle’s “Auto Row” along Pike Street and the connecting Broadway Avenue.

This photograph, however, was most likely recorded not to advertise Fords but to show off the Romanesque stone mass of First Covenant Church that was dedicated in 1911 at the northeast corner of Pike and Bellevue. The congregation first built a frame sanctuary there in 1901 that was soon jacked up when Pike Street was regraded in 1905 and squeezed when the street was widened two years later.

The ornate home between the church and the gas station was the residence of William and lona Maud, and their daughters, Ann and Vales. The English-born Maud moved to Seattle in 1885 and did well here in real estate. For instance, he built the surviving Maud Building at 311 First Ave. S. in 1889 over the ashes of the city’s “Great Fire” of that year.

Not long after this photograph was recorded, the Mauds moved to Los Angeles. After William’s death there in 1931, his body was shipped back to Seattle for burial. By then his distinguished Victorian home at 416 E. Pike St. had been replaced by Mill Motors, the used-car lot that grabbed motorists’ attention with a fanciful windmill tower facing Pike Street.

Mills Motor Co. with the Covenant Church on the left, ca. 1938 – a tax photo courtesy of the Washington State Archive.

Lewis Whittelsey took this photo of his wife Delia in the back seat of an unidentified motorcar posing on Pike Street and looking east to the Covenant Church at Pike and Bellevue. The photograph, from a family album, is date June 15, 1916.  For comparison – or lack of it – with the next subject note the structures facing Pike here on the left or north side of the street.  The grocery subject below is also sited on Pike at its northwest corner with Bellevue, and yet it is quite a different construction than those seen above, unless it can be squeezed in but not seen behind the motorcar.
The McRae and Branigan Grocery at the northwest corner of Pike and Bellevue – or is it?



(First appeared in Pacific, May 10, 1987)

It was the Episcopalians of Trinity Parish who started Grace Hospital and first administered it, but most of the established Protestant power in town gathered October 18, 1885, at a stumpy slope on the edge of town, at the present comer of Summit Avenue and Union Street, for the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone.

Grace was Seattle’s second dedicated hospital (not counting a variety of doctor’s backrooms that preceded it). By comparison, Seattle’s first, the Catholic Providence, was less lavishly appointed, without the comforts that can come with capital. Actually, in this business Grace was in direct competition with Providence for local bodies more than souls. Grace Hospital was built with Protestant lumber, on Protestant ground, and endowed with Protestant beds. When it opened February 21, 1887 over 300 persons attended and were entertained with music, card playing and dancing.

This church hospital, however, did not survive the crash of 1893. The operation of Grace was then passed on to a group of doctors, but in 1899 they too abandoned it. The building stood vacant for a time, and then operated as a boarding house and hotel. In 1905 the 20-year-old Grace was demolished to make room for the site’s second landmark, Summit School.

Built in 1905 the still-standing Summit School at first served a neighborhood of large families, many of them living in homes that were nearly mansions. When the grade school closed in the mid-1960s the community around it had been transformed into a neighborhood of apartment buildings, small businesses, and – once again – hospitals.

For a brief while Summit School served as a satellite to Seattle Community College until an alternative high school took over the building and the name as well.

When Summit Alternative High School moved on in 1977 the building was sold to developers who planned to refurbish the old landmark with offices. The plan failed, and in the fall of 1980 the present occupant, Northwest School, moved in. With a faculty of nearly 40 full-and part-time instructors serving a student body of about 200, Northwest School is truly an alternative.   (Remembering that this was written a quarter-century ago, Northwest School still thrives and at the same location.)


For the contemporary repeat I could not resist moving a bit closer to the two landmark brick apartments at Summit Ave. and Republican Street on the right.  When constructed in 1909 and 1910, from right to left respectively, they were given the romantic names the Menlo and the El Mondo.  The latter has kept its original moniker but the former (the one nearest the camera) has a new name: the Bernkastle.   Between them they added 31 units to a neighborhood that was then only beginning its conversion from single-family residences to low-rise apartments like these. (Historical Photo courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)


After seven inches of rain in two days the pipeline that supplied Seattle its Cedar River water was undermined and broke near Renton on November 19, 1911.  The week-long water famine that followed closed the schools for want of steam heat, sent whole families packing to downtown hotels where the water service was rationed but not cut off, and featured daily front page warnings to “Boil Your Water” – meaning the water one caught in a downspout or carted from one of the lakes.

There were alternatives.  One could purchase water for 5 cents a gallon or wait in line to fill a bucket from one of the 24 water wagons – like this one — that the city dispatched to residential streets.  Pioneer springs on the slopes of First Hill were also uncapped.  Pioneer historian Thomas Prosch who lived near the spring at 7th Avenue and James Street told a Seattle Times reporter,  “I went down and got a pail of it myself. I have drunk it for years and no better water exists.”

Finding the unidentified site of the historical scene with the city water wagon was mildly intuitive for I lived on Capitol Hill’s Summit Ave. for five years in the early 1970s.  I quickly drove to the spot just south of the intersection of Summit and Republican Street.

In 1911 – the date of the photograph – brick apartments like those on the right were still rare in a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes.  Eventually, however, much of this part of Capitol Hill was converted to higher densities because of its proximity to downtown and the convenient rail service.  (Note the northbound rail on the right for the trolley loop that returned to downtown southbound on Bellevue Avenue one block to the west.)

The 1911 break in the Cedar River line and the resulting flooding in Renton.


At 8:30 on the Sunday morning of November 19, 1911, the church bells of Renton began to peal too early for a call to worship. Earlier that morning church services had been called off, for during the night the Cedar River that normally ran through the town began to run over it.

The bells were joined by the Renton coal mine’s siren whose shriek, as one old Rentonite remembered, “could run up and down five octaves and raise the hair on the back of your neck.” This was the signal that 28 miles upstream the Cedar River dam had burst, releasing eleven square miles of fresh mountain water impounded behind it in the City of Seattle’s reservoir.

Cedar River Dam

The Monday morning Post-Intelligencer reported that “extraordinary sights ensued” as Renton “fled pell mell to the hills . . .Stampeding horses galloped along the streets, barely held in control by their struggling drivers . . . Sons carrying their old mothers on their shoulders . . . Women with bundles on their heads, dragging their children behind . . . while baggage-laden fathers followed.”

From the Renton Hills they looked back at their deserted town and waited for the disaster to suddenly drown it.  It was a false alarm. The dam had not burst, and there was no wall of water. By noon many of those who fled in the morning waded back to their homes to peer into flooded basements or to gather floating woodpiles – until 3:30 that afternoon when the siren wailed again and the scene of flight was repeated.

This time the dam did break, but those who felt its main effects were in Seattle not Renton. Only the dam’s top timbers gave way but the ensuing erosion undermined the bridge at Landsburg, a short way down stream from the dam, and with it the pipelines that fed Seattle its water. Thus, the Renton flood was followed by the Seattle water famine. Soon the warm Chinook winds that had brought seven inches of rain in two days and melted the early snows turned cold. The waters receded; but while Renton was shoveling mud from its basements, Seattle was filling its bathtubs with lake, spring and rain water-or any kind of water it could get. Private water merchants sold it for 5 cents a gallon. The mayor encouraged citizens to put washtubs under their downspouts, and when the city dispatched 24 water wagons into the streets, “they were besieged by hundreds of men and women armed with receptacles of every sort.”

It took a week to repair the pipes, and every dry day the warnings of the city’s health commissioner were quoted on front pages, “BOIL YOUR WATER!” Seattle’s schools were closed for want of steam heat, and on Wednesday 2,000 bundles of Seattle’s dirty laundry were shipped to Tacoma.

The limited supply of fresh water in the city’s reservoirs on Beacon and Capitol hills was directed to the business district. The P.I. reported, “Entire families in the dry districts have deserted their homes.” Seattle’s hotels were filled with visitors from Seattle. “Downtown cafes are feeding capacity crowds.”

At week’s end the Saturday P.I. reported, “Cedar River Pipe Ready To Shoot Water to City.” It was the last front-page story on the event. By then Renton’s flood was almost dried up, and on Sunday its citizens could, if they wanted, respond to a regular call to worship without running for the hills.


Looking east from 8th Ave. with Howell on the Left and Olive on the right.


(First appeared in Pacific, JUNE 23, 1996)

Block 28 of Sara Bell’s Second Addition is one of those pie-shaped lots that are a relief from the predictable space of the American urban grid. The buildings on them seem to put on a show – pushing their faces into the flow of traffic.

Like others of this flatiron class, what this three-story clapboard gives up in space it makes up in facades. Surely every room within is well-lit. Photographed here Nov. 18, 1910, this building also shows up in a panorama recorded from the summit of Denny Hill 20 years earlier.

This mixed-class (retail and apartment) structure sticks its forehead into the five-star comer of Olive Square. Here Howell Street, on the right, originates from the intersection of Eighth Avenue and Olive Way. After Yesler Way west of Broadway, Olive is the second odd tangent that enlivens the otherwise monotonous street configuration of Seattle’s central business district.

The scene was probably recorded by the Public Works Department’s photographer, James Lee, which may explain the photograph’s enigmatic purpose: It is a record of something having to do with public use rather than private glory or mere architectural pleasure.

Still, this vain little clapboard is a pleasure – although it may be an idle one. The bright sign taped to the front door is a real-estate broker’s inquiry card. The only other sign showing is on the left. It is for the Angelo, the residential rooms upstairs.

The flatiron block (circa 1908) is marked upper-left with a red arrow. The subject looks east over 5th Avenue with Pine Street on the right and Olive on the left. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
The pie-shaped block is marked again with a red arrow. The subject from the early 1890s, I believe, looks east up Olive Street from Denny Hill before its regrade.
Looking north and west towards Queen Anne Hill from First Hill. The photographer stands somewhere between Terry, Boren, Union and University.  Pine street crosses the scene – some of its built on a trestle. Pike street is the next paralleling street beyond it. 9th Avenue is on the left and Terry far right. The triangular subject is marked with another red arrow. Although I have charted the grid and am confident that it is properly placed it is yet troubling.  The windows on the south facade bear some resemblance in their order to those seen in the top photo of this subject, but there are not enough of them.  Nor does the cornice of his earlier record – from the early 1890s – have the gravitas of that in the top photo, but here there seems to be but two stories whereas above there are three.  I am assuming that the building was at some point enlarged above and to the rear – but I may be wrong.
Meanwhile and nearby, El Goucho at 7th and Oliver in 1961. Red meat anyone? (Courtesy, Seattle Public Library)

I'LL WRITE A LONGER LETTER LATER – Ephrata, Sequim, Seattle

Collector Drew Miller left three shoe boxes filled with “real photo postcards” of Washington State subjects long enough so that when he recently picked them up we hardly recognized each other.  It occurred to me – unfortunately late in the routine of scanning his cards – that when there are messages attached I should ordinarily scan those as well.  For instance, notice how sweet is the message for the top card below – a salmon pie left for Tressy and a cream colored casserole too.  Surely, these personal greetings and reflections are often revealing, or at least suggestive, of both the subjects and the writer.   And I imagined that if a large enough sample could be collected of both cards and their messages that an entertaining and often funny short film could be made of them.  (Share them if you have them and if you will.  Or make your own films.)  Here are three without comment from Miller’s cards.


How are the babies? Salmon pie for Tressy in the refrigerator cream colored casserole We are here just for a few minutes just 20 miles from Moses rather nice little town.  Love Frank & Merle xoxox  – Mr. and Mrs. Ned Hill, 10015 – 17th S.W. Seattle, WN – Postmark Ephrata Wash Oct. 12, 1943


Dear. W.A. – This is the H.S. of which my brother in law is principal.  Si was borne and raised on the Sequim prarie and is a wonderful person.  I have yet to hear anyone say an unkind word about him he’s one in a million. Sequim is noted for its nice people most of Jane’s and Si’s friends are farmers and nearly all of them have had some college education, they aren’t at all like I’ve always that farmers should be, their houses are modern and they dress so much like city folk you’d  never know they difference.  Love J.C.   – To Sgt. D.A. Peterson  McClosky Gen Hosp  Ward 31 A Temple Texas / Postmark: Sequim Wash, Jan 12, 1943


Pinkie – Just a line from Seattle to a pal.  Having a swell time.  Hate to go home but all good things must come to an end.  The weather is swell and not too hot.  Will be seeing you soon.  Mabel  – Mr. W.E. Lomax, 508 W. 9th St. c/o Acme Typewriter Co., Los Angeles 15, Calif. / Postmark Seattle Wash July 2, 1945

HELIX Vol. 1, No. 3 – April 27, 1967

This week we have made it to the third issue of Helix.  (It shows a date – April 27, 1967. A few did not.)  Above is Ron Edge’s coloring of the Helix masthead we have chosen to represent this two-plus year project of putting up all the issues.  (Last week it was Ron’s brother Don who started this coloring.  We are looking for colorists – Photoshop artists to have a go with it.  Below is a link to download a blank Helix masthead for those who would like to try their hand at coloring one for use in future post.

Below is another commentary of my first reading of this issue – as with all the others – in 45 years.  So far in these rough and recorded remarks my time runs out – about ten minutes – before I get to the centerfold.  Let it be.

[audio:|titles=Helix Vol. 1 No.3 s]


Seattle Now & Then: Shared Walls

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Construction work begins on the top three floors of the Hermosa Apartments, on the left, at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Cedar Street. The view looks over Denny Way to Tilikum Place and west on Cedar Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives, negative 30409.)
NOW: In Jean Sherrard’s “repeat,” Seattle sculptor James Wren’s statue of Chief Seattle stands atop its pedestal. On this year’s Founders Day, Nov. 13, the statue and a few others will celebrate the centennial of its 1912 unveiling at the place named for the Chinook trade talk expression that translates “greetings.”

Diana James’ new history of Seattle apartment houses has a confident clarity that shares the author’s delight in her subject.  Her scholarly results also create a template for following the developing patterns of apartment house choices – for both builders and renters – that may be applied, we suspect, everywhere.

“Shared Walls,” the inspired title for James’ book, was the gift from her friend, the Capitol Hill historian, Jacqueline Williams, who like James lives on the hill, which is well appointed with landmark apartments.  (I too lived with shared walls for several years in the 1970s on the Summit Ave. trackless trolley line.)

As one of the American West’s greatest boomtowns, Seattle was soon in need of shared walls.  Not yet thirty years old in 1880, the federal census confirmed that the Queen City – its nickname then – was the largest community in the territory and still with only 3553 counted citizens.  Twenty years later, at the turn of the century when the enumeration had swelled to 80,871, James found the first listings for apartments in the city’s 1900 Polk Directory.  There were four of them.  Forty years more and the number reached about 1400, and nearly one-fifth of all Seattle households lived in them.

A nearly new Hermosa Apartments before both adding stories and Tilikum Place.

From these hundreds of apartments, the trained preservationist chose 100  – including the Hermosa Apartments shown here  – to explore both by records and on foot.  The choices are illustrated with a mix of archival photos and the author’s own.  Dated 1911, the historical photo shows the Hermosa beginning to add three stories.

Too prudently, perhaps, the McFarland Publisher chose to print only a few hundred copies of Shared Walls, which they were confident would appeal to libraries.  You have the choice of checking Seattle libraries for shared copies of Shared Walls or calling bookstores first.  Yes, it is an enduring delight to visit a bookstore.


Of course, I had to grab a shot of Chief Seattle, framed by naked branches on a late winter day.

Anything to add, Paul?

Yes Jean – a few more Apartment Houses – following or heading a feature on Tilikum Place done a few years past – when I find it.



ANHALT APARTMENTS – 750 Bellmont Ave.

(First appeared in Pacific March 3, 1991)

Beginning in 1926, Frederick William Anhalt spent three years building apartment buildings in Seattle – nearly 30 of them. A half-century later, many remain among Seattle’s most cherished architectural treasures.

The building at 750 Belmont Ave., shown here, was Anhalt’s first luxury apartment. How he chose its agreeable style is a story told in “Built by Anhalt,” a biography by Steve Lambert.

When a young bookseller, whom Anhalt had hired to search for books on beautiful apartments, returned instead with one on English castles, Anhalt recalled, “Well, I took one look at that book and I knew I’d found my style of building. I went through that book and picked a window I liked here, a door there, and something else over there.”

With 750 Belmont, Anhalt created a unity diverse enough to give its residents “the feeling that they were living in a house of their own.” Built on a triangular lot, the structure also showed Anhalt’s knack for using leftover building lots.

In 1929 Anhalt was planning a 150-unit luxury construction across the street from 750 Belmont when the October crash bankrupted him. It was a temporary reversal, and he was soon back constructing affordable Depression-era housing and manufacturing cedar siding .

After World War II, Anhalt went into the nursery business and prospered by raising more rhododendron varieties than anyone else west of the Mississippi. When he sold his property to the University of Washington, it made him a millionaire.



(First appeared in Pacific, April 24, 1994)

In retrospect, Warren Harding’s late arrival in Seattle was ominous. The president’s naval transport, Henderson, returning from Harding’s visit to Alaska, rammed and nearly sank the destroyer Zeilin at the entrance to Puget Sound. The slowed Henderson came around West Point at 12:40 on the afternoon of July 27, 1923. Let off at the Port of Seattle’s Bell Street Terminal, the president’s motorcade took a right tum off Bell at First Avenue and promenaded south on First.

Here waving his bowler, Harding salutes the crowd a half-block south of Blanchard Street. Counting the crowds lining the motorcade, the students packed into’ Volunteer and Woodland parks to hear his brief patriotic homilies and the 40,000 enduring his nearly hour-long address about Alaska at the UW Stadium, Harding, 58, performed for more than 100,000 witnesses in his six hours here.

Yet Harding left Seattle sick. His train sped to San Francisco, where he died six days later of what his physician first diagnosed as poisoning from tainted crab and later as apoplexy (bleeding/stroke) of the brain .

In Seattle, the Harding motorcade was solemnly repeated with the same presidential vehicle, this second time empty. Proposals to rename Rainier to Mount Harding were dropped in favor of erecting a monumental speakers platform at Woodland Park. (The monument was later lost to the zoo’s African Savanna.)

Soon after Harding’s demise the rumored aspersions – including the Teapot Dome scandal – of his administration unfolded. Four years after his death, so did the confessions of Nan Britton. Her book on her long affair with Harding was convincing enough to inspire a national rumor that Harding had been poisoned not by crab but by a jealous Mrs. Harding, perhaps, it was rumored, in a sympathy twisted with apoplectic rage..


In the roughly 93 years (dated back from 2006) that divide this now and then look up First Avenue north from Wall Street not much survives of the old “North Seattle” AKA Belltown.  The trees on the right of the contemporary view hide the New Pacific Apartments, a rare survivor. (Historical photo compliments of Seattle Municipal Archive.)

FIRST NORTH – Loose Bricks and Billboards

(First appeared in Pacific, Jan. 29, 2006)

For those among you who imagine that the bending bricklayer is the intended subject in this look north on First Avenue from Wall Street, bravo.   The chronically deteriorating condition of the special paving that bordered the trolley tracks at the center of Seattle’s arterials was an enduring sore point between the city and the Seattle Electric Company.  For their franchise the trolley company was obliged to maintain both the tracks and the paving.   So a photographer from Seattle Public Works recorded this photo — probably as damning evidence.

A second civic sore point is also exposed here – the billboards.  Protests against street advertising were part of the same early 20th Century liberal temper that pushed for parks, clean water (and milk), and beautiful streets.  A 1906 campaign against the many billboards in Belltown described them as “glaring and unsightly structures” that “lift their flaming fronts and tell their own story of aggressive insolence.”  A stacking of boards at 2nd and Cedar was described as “three tiers of commercialism gone mad.”

Here, on the right behind an example of City Light Director James Delmage Ross’s nearly new (and ornate) five-ball light standard is a two-tier board.  There is coffee “upstairs” and Fatima Cigarettes at the sidewalk.  At this time – about 1913 – Fatima smokers found wrapped in their packs in addition to the rewards of their sin tax sports cards of popular players and teams.

Among the products using the line of boards on the west side of First are Sunny Monday “Washday Soap”, Budweiser Beer and Adams Black Jack Chewing Gum.  By some accounts Black Jack was the first flavored gum.  (I once loved both it and the gift of a black tongue.)

Selz Chicago Shoes and Seattle’s own Burnside hats must be prospering for they are promoted with oversize murals on the first building north of Vince Street on the west side of First.  Although probably not discernible in this printing, Con Collier’s “Saloon and Family Liquor Store” is also promoted.  Perhaps the “family” part of Constant Collier’s sign is warranted because with his family he lives just above his liquor store.

Finally on the right at the northeast corner of Vine and First are the New Pacific Apartments.  Built in 1903 this neighborhood survivor is curiously marked in the 1912 real estate map as the Pacific Hospital.


Then Caption.  “While the picture isn’t too clear” Fred Cruger, Granite Falls historian and vintage auto expert, gives his “best guess” that that is a “new Dodge coming around the corner . . . ca. 1915.”  The corner is where Warren Place, on the right, begins its one short block between First Avenue, which crosses the bottom of the photograph, and Denny Way. (Historical Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey) Now Caption:  The substantial apartment house behind the Dodge opened in March of 1910.  Built as the Raymond Apartments of brick and concrete is survives as the Daniel Apartments, an “icon” of this Belltown neighborhood.


(First appeared in Pacific, July 29, 2007)

When it first opened its 37 two-room units to renters in 1910 the Raymond Apartments were touted as “the only apartment house in the cluster light district.”  The historical scene printed here includes an example of Seattle’s first ornamental street lights, the six-globe “cluster light standard” to the left of the pie-shaped Raymond’s arching front door at the corner of First Avenue and Warren Place.

The cluster lights were installed in 1909-10 and for its 1911 annual report City Light counted 1116 of them lighting 13.5 miles of the city’s busiest streets, most of them downtown.  If the new Raymond was the only apartment house on these same streets that distinction could not have lasted but a few weeks or even days.  It was this boom town’s boom time for apartment house construction.

Workers increasingly wanted their own baths, which meant for many a move from a lodging house into a private apartment.  The 1903 city directory for a Seattle of about 100,000 citizens lists only 8 apartment buildings, but more than 150 lodging houses.  Eight year later in a city of about 230,000 citizens, the 1911 directory lists over 300 apartment buildings and a mere 23 lodging houses.

Designed by the architects Thompson and Thompson, a father-son partnership, for the Monmouth Building Company, J.H. Raymond secretary, The Raymond Apartments were later sold and renamed for their new owner the William Daniels Apartments.  The name has held.  When the city’s Department of Planning and Development published its 2004 “Design Guidelines for the Belltown Urban Center Village” it listed the Daniels as one of the district’s 61 “Icon Buildings” and complimented it for its flatiron shape, and “unified design” featuring “active” and not “blank facades.”


When it was brand new in 1910 the Ben Lomond Apartments looked down on Lake Union from the steep and clear-cut western side of Capitol Hill. A “second growth” urban landscape now often hides the apartment so the “now” view was photographed from the closest available opening. (Historical view courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

BEN LOMOND – A Fertile Prospect

(First appeared in Pacific April 11, 2004)

From its clinging prospect on the western slope of Capitol Hill the Ben Lomond Apartments look down on what its first residents may have comfortably called Lock Union for their new home was named after a 3,330 ft mountain in Scotland. While the name does not fit the five-story brick block’s architecture, which is more Mediterranean, it does resonate with the names of the nearby streets. For that matter it might have been named Ben Belmont or Ben Bellevue.

As built in 1910 the high west wall of the Ben Lomond faced Lakeview Ave (seen here at the bottom left corner). During the winter of 1961-62 the 1-5 Freeway replaced that eccentric street with an overpass and a ditch leaving the apartment house propped so precariously over the Interstate that a special cylinder retaining wall of concrete and steel was required to hold up the hill beneath it. (In the fall of 1962 a slide cracked several structures a short ways north of the Ben Lomond, so the special wall was extended.)

Slide precautions on the freeway near the Ben Lomond. Note the steam plant on the left.

The Ben Lomond was distinguished enough to get its own announcement in the real estate section of the Aug 22, 1909 edition of The Seattle Times. Architect Elmer Ellsworth Green’s rendering of the structure was headlined, “Ben Lomond Apartments to Be Built for Benefit of Families With Children.” A subhead explained, “None but couples with children may enter this $75,000 New Apartment House.” The attached story made the 21 apartments with “disappearing beds” sound like a play land. One of the residents, it was announced, would be a matron employed to care for the children who would be encouraged to play on the roof and enjoy its covered sun rooms.

There was, however, a eugenics hysteria attached to this utopia. Remembering Roosevelt’s famous remarks of 1903 regarding “racial suicide”, the “couples with children only” rule was code to encourage Anglo-Saxon protestants to have more children as an answer to the greater fertility of catholic immigrants from the warm and prolific bottom of Europe.


Werner Lenggenhager, the Swiss-born photographer of this rare look to Capitol Hill along Melrose Place, moved to Seattle in 1939 and soon got a job at Boeing.  He continued his decades-long photographic quest of a great variety of subjects all over Washington State even after he retired from Boeing in 1966. With the construction of the Seattle Freeway in the 1960s practically everything in Lenggenhager’s 1959 photograph was erased.


(First appeared in Pacific, Dec. 31, 2006)

In 1953 Byron Fish, one of my all-time favorite Seattle Times columnists, wrote a feature on Werner Lenggenhager, then still a Boeing employee who spent his weekends combining, as Fish summarized it, a “hobby of photography and an interest in history.”  Many Times readers will still remember “By Fish” and how he signed his contributions with a primitive cartoon of a smiling fish placed directly above the phrase “his mark.”  Fish’s angle was often about the extraordinary in the ordinary, and Lenggenhager fit that.

Through many years of long walks with his camera – he did not drive – Lenggenhager photographed landmarks, many of them doomed, but also “ordinary” scenes like this one.  That is Melrose Place cutting through the city grid on its climb from Howell Street, in the foreground, to both Melrose Avenue proper (on the far side of apartment buildings showing top-center) and further on to Olive Street.  Like Olive, Melrose Place allowed a motorist, or walker like Werner, to avoid the steeper grade of Denny Way while climbing Capitol Hill.

Of course, practically everything here was “terminal” when Lenggenhager recorded it in 1959.   Perhaps, the coming construction of the Seattle Freeway moved him to take this photograph as an act of, at least, pictorial preservation.  He might have also been going home or coming from it for the photographer lived at the corner of Belmont Avenue and E. Olive Street, or three short blocks beyond those apartments, top-center. (With the building of the freeway the assessor’s tax records – including the photographs – for these structures were foolishly purged.  Some readers, surely, will remember Melrose Place and/or have known Werner Lenggenhager.  If either, I would surely like to hear about it.)

In the roughly 40 years he was exploring with his camera Werner Lenggenhager gave prints to the University of Washington, the Museum of History and Industry and the Seattle Public Library.  This scene was copied from the library’s collection where it is but one of more than 23,000 examples of the Swiss immigrant’s contribution to our community’s memory.


Above: Perry Apartments is nearly new in “postcard artist” M. L. Oakes look at them south on Boren to where it intersects with Madison Street. (Courtesy John Cooper) Below: In a humble irony, the southeast corner of Madison Street and Boren Avenue which was first developed as a lordly home site for Federal Judge Cornelius Hanford, his wife Clara and their eight children is since 2006 home for 50 units of affordable senior housing developed by the Cabrini Sisters.  The Perry/Cabini structure was torn down in 1996.  (now pix by Jean Sherrard)


(First appears in Pacific May 31, 2009)

While supervising the construction of the prestigious St. James Cathedral, architects Marbury Somervell and Joseph S. Cote, both new to Seattle, became inevitably known to new clients.  Their two largest “spin-off” commissions were for Providence Hospital and these Perry Apartments.  The Perry was built on the old Judge Hanford family home site while the Cathedral was still a work-in-progress two blocks away.  St. James was dedicated in 1907 and the ornate seven-story apartment was also completed that year for its “first life” at the southwest corner of Madison and Boren.

What the partners could not have known was that they were actually building two hospitals. The Perry was purchased in 1916/17 by Sister Frances Xavier Cabrini – not then yet a saint – and converted into the Columbus Sanatorium and later the Cabrini Hospital, and thereby became the Catholic contributor to the make-over of First Hill – or much of it – into Seattle’s preferred “Pill Hill.”

In this view the new Perry is still eight floors of distinguished flats for high-end renters who expect to be part of the more-or-less exclusive neighborhood.  Neighbors close enough to ask for a cup of sugar include many second generation Dennys, the Lowmans, Hallers, Minors, Dearborns, Burkes, Stimsons, Rankes, and many more of Seattle’s nabobs.

Most importantly class-wise were the Carkeeks.  In the mid 1880s the English couple, Morgan and Emily Carkeek, built their mansion directly across Boren Avenue from the future Perry when the neighborhood was still fresh stumps and a few paths winding between them.   The Carkeek home became the clubhouse for First Hill culture and no doubt a few Perry residents were welcomed to its card and masquerade parties.


Above: The Gainsborough at 1017 Minor Avenue was one of large handful of distinguished apartment buildings built or planned in the late 1920s.  (Courtesy, Michael Maslan)  Below:  Well preserved the elegant Gainsborough continues to distinguish the First Hill neighborhood.  (photo by Jean Sherrard)


(First appeared in Pacific June 22,  2008)

Built for class the high-rise apartment at 1017 Minor Avenue on First Hill was named after the English King George III’s favorite painter, Thomas Gainsborough.  As a witness to the place’s status, Colin Radford, president of the Gainsborough Investment Co. that built it, was also the new apartments’ first live-in manager.  And the apartments were large, four to a floor, fifty in all including Radford’s (if I have counted correctly).  What the developer-manager could not see coming when his distinguished apartment house was being built and taking applications was the “Great Depression.”

The Gainsborough was completed in 1930 a few months after the economic crash of late 1929.   This timing was almost commonplace for the building boom of the late 1920s continued well into the early 1930s.   The quality of these apartments meant that the Gainsborough’s affluent residents were not going to wind up in any 1930s  “alternative housing” like the shacks of “Hooverville” although the “up and in” residents in the new apartment’s highest floors could probably see some of those improvised homes “down and out” on the tideflats south of King Street.

For comparison a look into Hooverville. The First Hill skyline is on the far right, its most apparent part the two towers of St. James Cathedral.

Through its first 78 years the Gainsborough has been home to members of Seattle families whom might well have lived earlier in one of the many mansions on First Hill.  Two examples. Ethel Hoge moved from Sunnycrest, her home in the Highlands, to the Gainsborough after her husband, the banker James Doster Hoge died in 1929.  Before their marriage in 1894 Ethel lived with her parents on the hill near Terry and Marion.  Ten years ago the philanthropist-activist Patsy Collins summoned Walt Crowley and I to the Gainsborough.  After explaining to her our hopes for she gave us the seed money to launch the site that year.   Patsy was instrumental in preserving the Stimson-Green mansion, also on Minor Avenue, a home that her grandparents, the C.D. Stimsons, built in 1900.



(First appeared in Pacific, August 6, 1995)

Union Street is interrupted at the front door of The Cambridge, the first of the soaring brick apartment houses built along the steep bank of First Hill. When the 10-story Cambridge opened in 1923, its restrained brick facade dominated the northwest corner of the hill, and the majority of its more than 150 studio-apartments looked down on the city or Lake Union. The rear units shared a backyard grotto set between the apartment building and the greenbelt behind it. Residents still wake to bird songs.

The Cambridge is glimpsed in this look east on Union Street from Seventh Avenue. Off-camera to the right is the Eagles Auditorium, which survives. All else in this scene is now either filled with or blocked by the Convention Center.
First Hill seen from Denny Hill (before the regrade) with the dark green belt on the far left marking the steep acre where the Cambridge Apts. were constructed about 15 years later.

The Cambridge was a model of practical living, with a mix of modern space-savers (such as Murphy beds and breakfast nooks) and elegant touches (hardwood and tiled floors, a lavish lobby, full laundry, 24-hour switchboard). The Cambridge also had neighborhood identity. Three nearby businesses – a grocery, a garage and a cleaners -borrowed the name. Many of its residents walked to work downtown.

A tax photo ca. 1937 catches a glimpse, far-right, of the stairway to First Hill.
Looking west on Union and down its stairway from First Hill, most likely during the 1916 snow, and so seven years before the Cambridge was constructed in the copse at the bottom of the steps to the left.
Another look west from First Hill along Union Street before the Cambridge's construction.

In the early 1960s Interstate 5 cut off the Cambridge -and much else. Buffeted by. the roar of the freeway, the popular apartment was neglected but not dilapidated.

The Cambridge was saved indirectly by the institution that now threatens it. Part of the $2.3 million used by the City of Seattle for the apartment’s purchase in 1987 allowed for its recent renovation into affordable housing. The resources were drawn from mitigating funds paid by the Washington State Convention Center for its effects on the neighborhood. Built atop the freeway, the landscaped convention center also dampens its noise.

Now (in the Spring of 1995)  however, this big neighbor wants to expand to the north or east. If the former, it will build primarily on parking lots; if the latter, it will destroy four buildings – including the Cambridge – and nearly 400 apartments.  (It seems to have done the latter.)


Above: Photographed when the building was new, the Hotel Pennington Apartments, facing Marion Street west of 4th Avenue, promoted itself as “a home away from home. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)  Below: Little has changed on the south side of Marion Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in the about 80 years between this “now and then.” (Remembering that this first appears in Pacific on Nov. 29, 2006 – not so long ago.)


(First appeared in Pacific, Nov. 29, 2006)

Set aside for the moment the looming skyscrapers and note how little has changed between this “then” and “now.”  For ambitious Seattle this is rare, especially outside the city’s designated historic districts, like Pioneer Square.

The centerpiece here is the Pacific hotel, facing Marion Street between the alley and east to 4th Avenue.  The work of architect W. R. B. Willcox, it was completed in 1916 – or may have been.  Both the county tax records and U.W. architect Norman J. Johnston’s chapter on Willcox in the UW Press’ ever revealing book “Shaping Seattle Architecture” give the 1916 date.

However, in the 1918 Polk City Directory a full-page advertisement (facing Page 2004) for the “Hotel Pennington Apartments” as it was then called, includes an etching of the same front façade seen here but with the terra cotta tile work of the right (south) half continued to the corner of 4th Avenue as one consistent presentation.  Was the less ornate half of mostly burlap bricks at the corner a late compromise for time and/or economy?  Or was the “half-truth” of the elegant etching too appealing to either correct or leave out of the advertisement?

The other surviving landmarks here include, far right, a corner of the Central Building (1907) and far left, the familiar Jacobean grace of the Rainier Club (1904) across 4th Avenue.   And above the club is the current celebrity among landmarks – or the dome of it: the First Methodist Church at 5th and Marion (1907) which now seems saved for its second century.

When the non-profit Plymouth group purchased the Pacific Hotel – its name since the 1930s – for low-income housing it took care to preserve the building’s heritage and in 1996 was awarded the state’s Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Rehabilitation.  Tom English, Plymouth’s facilities director, is fond of revealing that although hidden from Marion Street the hotel is U-shaped, and so embraces its own “beautifully landscaped courtyard and Kol-Pond.”  The 1918 advertisement also makes note of it as the hotel’s “spacious court garden.”



The “now-then” recent feature about the “row house” at the southeast corner of 5th Avenue and Madison Street (now the home of the College Club) triggered this response from Mary and Leslie Norton, descendents of the Reinig family that built it.  Read on . . .

As explained in the letter printed below, when this row of Reinig Apartments at the southeast corner of Madison Street and Fifth Avenue was built by the Reinig family ca. 1889 the family home that had taken the corner was moved one lot east up Madison Street, where it can also be seen in its new position here on the far left.


Hi, Paul,

My sister and I were pleased to see the photo of the houses at 5th and Madison in this week’s Times magazine section.

The Reinig Apartments were built by our great-grandparents, Margarethe and Leonard Reinig;  we believe the 1889 date is accurate.

Leonard Reinig came to America in his 20’s from Diedesfeld, Germany, and learned the bakery business in St Louis, and The Dalles, Oregon, where he also learned Chinook.  He came to Seattle in 1869 to start his own Seattle Bakery, in a building rented from Henry Yesler on Mill Street (now Yesler Way). This included a delicatessen and he would deliver baked beans and brown bread to customers on Saturday mornings. It is said he produced Seattle’s first bakery cookies, and in 1872, made and sold the city’s first ice cream.  Later he and a partner built a two story brick building at 1st and Marion, the Reinig-Voss building, where he ran a grocery in front, a bakery in the rear, and upstairs had a large hall for meetings, concerts and performances.

Our great-grandmother, Margarethe Schafer Reinig, was the daughter of German immigrants from Witterschlicht, Germany, who settled first in Wisconsin, then took up a large farm on the Satsop River, in Grays Harbor county.  She met Leonard Reinig when she came to Seattle as a young woman, to work for family friends, the Bailey Gatzert family.  After their marriage, they built a home at 5th and Madison, where they raised their three sons, Otto, Dionis (Dio) and Eddie. The family owned this property until surviving sons Dio and Otto sold the land to the College Club in the 1960’s.

In the photo in the paper, the family home (house on the left) has been moved uphill from it’s original site at 5th and Madison, facing Madison, and turned to face 5th Avenue.  At this time, the family had already purchased their new home farm in Snoqualmie, and were preparing for a move there in 1890.  We are told that in the photo, sons Dio and Eddie are in the buggy, and Otto is on the porch.  The horse is Nellie, a fine driving horse that they shipped to Snoqualmie by rail when they moved.

The property where the house was moved was an extra lot that Leonard purchased so that Margarethe could have a small garden and raspberries close at hand.  The family also owned land at 12th and Spring, where they had a large garden and kept pasture for the horses.  My grandfather (Dio) told us that from the house, they could see the ships coming into the docks;  if their father was expecting an order, they could run down to the store to tell him, then up the hill to get the horses, and have the wagon at the pier by the time the ship was docked.

In Snoqualmie, Leonard Reinig opened a grocery store, and ran a farm, while the family kept up business and social interests in Seattle.  Later Otto took over the Snoqualmie grocery store, Dio managed the farm, and Eddie, an electrical engineer trained at the California School of Mechanical Arts, worked for Seattle City Light until his tragic death.

Several years ago, our late mother, Leslie Reinig Norton, gave the original plan drawings of the apartment building, and the Reinig-Voss building to the Seattle archives at the University of Washington.

Sue Schafer, our “cousin”, has written an interesting book, “Voices of the Past”, an annotated collection of early letters of Margarethe Schafer Reinig’s family, including correspondence between Margarethe and Leonard and from them to her parents on the farm in Satsop. We are also fortunate to have some written recollections from our grandfather, Dio Reinig.

Thank you for your interest in this photo.

Mary Norton

Leslie J. Norton

The 1884 Sanborn Real Estate Map identifying the building at the southwest corner of Marion and Front (First Ave.) as the Reinig-Voss block with it primary occupant then the Odd Fellows Hall (upstairs)
The Reinig-Voss block with its principal tenant, the Golden Rule Bazaar ca. 1887. Note the Odd Fellows symbol - the linked chain - decorating the building's facade, centered above the second floor.
A detail pulled from the 1884 Seattle Birdseye with red arrows marking the Reinig home at the southeast corner of Fifth and Madison, upper-right, and their nearly new brick building with a corner tower at the southeast corner of Front (First Ave.) and Marion Street, lower-left.
A detail of the detail showing the Reinig-Voss building at the center and across Marion Street the Fry Opera House. Courtesy Ron Edge
Pre-'89 fire etching of the Fry Opera House at the northeast corner of Marion and Front (First Ave.).
The Reinig-Voss building here identified after its primary tenant before the "Great Fire of June 6, 1889," the Golden Rule Bazaar.

It was wonderful to discover Seattle during springtime, the fields of tulips, all style of houses and to share the opening of the show “Now and Then” at the MOHAI with Paul and Jean. Thousand of thanks and my best memories…

Raymond and Zia Hachiya and Jean in front of the victorian house

On the way to the top of Space Needle