Fair and Festival – No. 11: The West Facade (front) of the Civic Auditorium (1928), Opera House (1962), McCaw Hall (2003)

This is the first photograph that Jean recorded for our fair-festival project.  We had just entered the Bumbershoot gate on Mercer with press passes (The only way we could effortlessly afford it.) and followed instructions to the press room where with Ron Edge we were outfitted with other “special” passes and stickers and ephemera into other inner-spaces, which we rarely used, for we kept to the outside for the three days of Bumbershoot.

The proper and polite name for this space in front of the McCaw Hall is the Kreielsheimer Plaza – or is it the Kreielsheimer Promenade?  This uncertainly is evidence for what we knew at the time it was being built and dedicated; that is was unlikely that many would remember the proper name.  First it was a difficult name, and even if named Jones Plaza it would soon be swallowed whole by McCaw.

On an inspiration, Jean with his tall pole took this shot through the screens that are at night – sometimes – used as surfaces for colorful projections.  (As least I hope they are still used so.)  Jean and I, along with Mike James, Genny McCoy and Sheila Farr wrote the book  history of the Kreielsheimer Foundation, which gave the money for the plaza (or promenade) and about about 100 million more for art around the Northwest, although most of it’s in Seattle.  The family name with a difficult spelling is attached to many places hereabouts, but. again, rarely is it remembered or recognized.  It’s a shame.  While writing the book we grew fond of the family.

Jean’s recording at the top was for his pleasure.  In it there is a band playing at the end of this promenade.  I knew we had many photographs of the old Civic Auditorium and Opera House too, and we will next attach a few with short captions.  None of them will be a “scientific” repeat or prefiguring of Jean’s shot, but they will all be of the place or very near it.

Like new in 1928. The grounds are still rough from all the construction to build a civic center. (Courtesy, Municipal Archive)
The Kreielsheimer Plaza was previously a parking space in front of the classic row of front portals to the auditorium - a space where cars and here a nearly double-decker bus were posed for promotions. (Courtesy, Municipal Archives)
Some bunting for a Rotary convention in the late 1940s.
Jeweler-photographer Robert Bradley's not dated Kodachrome record of the Civic Auditorium. Note the window dressings above the grand entrance. We wonder if it was considered attractive at the time? Do you like it now?
This we propose - understanding that we can be very tolerant towards ourselves - was photographed from very near what is since 2003 the Kreielsheimer "space." The date is 1900. You can read it at the lower-right corner. You may have seen some of this earlier. For our fifth offering in this fair-festival package we gathered several shots that looked west and a little north on Republican Street from its intersection with Second Ave. The contemporary subject there is the Bagley Wright Theatre. In an earlier footprint that northwest corner of Second and Republican was held by the Sarah Yesler Home for working women. It had later and much longer use as an apartment house. We see it again here above the tents of the Army's horse and mule men here to watch over the stock headed for the Phillipines. Although not seen, Mercer Street is just out of frame to the right. So how far do you think this is from the big tenement with the tower? If it is one block and a few yards then these soldiers are posing in - or very near - the future promenade.
I took this shot of the promenade from the Mercer Street side when Jean and I paid a visit during our production of the book on the history of the Kreielsheimer Foundation. That may have been nine years ago, but it seems to alive to have been so long ago.

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