Seattle Now & Then: The Hollywood Tavern

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: For most of the last century this quaint Inn nestled mid-block on the north side of University Street between Second and Third Avenues. (Courtesy, Washington State Archive.)
NOW: Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Symphony’s home since 1998, was built downtown, rather than at Seattle Center, to help revive a moribund central business district.

Ten years before its speedy 1924 conversion into the Hollywood Tavern, this “English chateau restaurant and apartment hotel” opened in as the Northold Inn.  Sitting before their $1.00 table d’hote (a set menu with a fixed price) dinners, the guests attending its 1914 opening New Years Eve party were serenaded by George Hagstrom’s orchestra, and fussed over by the Inn’s gregarious manager, C.S. Colegrove.

Lifted from The Seattle Times for August 8, 1914.
Pulled from The Times for Sept. 13, 1914.
First advert for the Northold Inn appeared in the Dec. 29, 1914 Seattle Times.

The Northold and its English teatime environment was Colegrove’s inspiration.  He was also the manager of the Fraser-Paterson Department Store’s Tea Room. (It was next door, to the right, at the corner of University and Second Ave.) Judging by its own promotions, the new department store’s “refined luncheon resort” quickly became the favorite of Seattle women.”  Encouraged by the popularity of his tearoom, and with the “mind of an idealist,” Colegrove built this deceptively big English ringer in an “early craftsman style” and then “flooded it with good cheer, the warmth of a massive fireplace, big black leather settees and deep carpets.”  And more tea.

From The Times Sept. 25, 1924
With an illustration of its sidewalk sign, the Oct. 13, 1924 announcement of the Hollywood's opening. From The Times.

The quick change of ‘24 from Northold to Hollywood was done with the founder Colegrove’s blessings.  “It will be continued along exactly the same lines.” (Curiously, the tavern was but one part of a “greater Hollywood” that included Hollywood Farm, which claimed “one of the greatest herds of pure-bred Holstein cows in the country.”) The tavern’s advertised prices crashed with the Great Depression. A 1932 ad promises “Talk of the town full course dinners served every day – for 50 cents.”  Neil McMillan, the tavern’s owner, died early in 1937, the year of our W.P.A. tax photo.  A “for rent” sign is posted above the scrawl of the photograph’s tax information.  Hollywood Tavern has gone dark.

A Metro Bus stopping near the front door to what was then the American Legion's 40 et 8 Club headquarters.

During WW2 the persevering landmark was mobilized first as a U.S.O. girls dormitory and then after the war as the American Legion’s 40 et 8 Club headquarters. As such it served the Legion for more years than it was an Inn and Tavern combined.  In 1975 food service returned with a feudal plan.  In an unwitting parody of founder C.S. Colegrove’s English tea-room, the new Mediaeval Inn resembled a feudal banqueting hall in which costumed “wenches” served mead (honey wine), Cornish game hens, potatoes and crusty bread while minstrels sang ballads and told bawdy jokes. The presiding Lord allowed customers to eat with a knife only, unless they sang for a fork.

Pulled from The Times of Feb. 7, 1975.


Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean, beside the few clips and adverts sprinkled about the main text above, a few neighborly subjects used in past Pacific features.   First the Walker Building, which was on the same block as the Northold Inn, at Second Ave., its west end.

The streaked lights from the headlights of passing cars in the exquisite night shot of Benaroya Hall by photographer James Fred Housel seem to repeat the trolley tracks in the 1904 photograph of the Walker Building at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and University Street. (Historical photo courtesy of MUSEUM of HISTORY and INDUSTRY / Contemporary photo by James Fred Housel, Courtesy of Seattle Symphony Orchestra.)


(Appears in Pacific in 2004)

When it was razed in the late 1980s the brick and stone Walker Building at the northeast corner of University Street and 2nd Avenue was nearly as old as the 20th Century.   Named for Cyrus Walker, the famed lumberman, it was completed in 1903 so the construction noise most likely did not interrupted the first performance of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra which was late in the same year, the 29th of December.  The performance space was itself new: Christiansen Hall in the then nearly new Arcade Building directly across Second Avenue.

The first Seattle Symphony Orchestra (SSO) was a 24-instrument ensemble led by the violinist/conductor Harry West.  Probably most of the players also taught their instruments to enthused youth – and students were often excited to learn given the great importance then of live music.  Most likely many of the players also performed in one or more of the theatre and restaurant orchestras that then stocked the energetic Seattle music scene.  So there were certainly many good players among the first twenty-four under West and the SSO must of sounded quite fine its first night.

I don't know if this is the "first" Seattle Symphony, but it is what I have got and it is early. Note the harp is the only instrument handled by a woman - strange but typical.

It is one of those most common of ironies – those of place – that the orchestra would eventually wind up in Benaroya Hall, its first permanent home directly across Second Avenue , 95 years after West first raised his baton.  This season, of course, the SSO celebrated its centennial at Benaroya Hall, but also at New York City’s Carnegie Hall, during its four-city East coast Centennial Tour this past spring.

Lawton Gowey took this Walker Building slide on Jan. 28, 1976. The removal of the building's cornace was probably a precaution following either the 1949 earthquake.

Readers who known their downtown will remember what a strange corner this was in the few years between the razing of the Walker and the raising of Benaroya.  Plans for a 60-floor scraper as part of a proposed Marathon Block were abandoned because of the massive overbuilding of office space at the time.  In its place a wide sward was planted, and near its green center a temporary entrance to the bus tunnel resembled an opening to a civil defense bunker.  (Buried in my daily snaps are more than one recording of this – somewhere.)

Before the Walker - at the northeast corner of 2nd and University - there was this collection of commercial sheds and homes. Note the Plymouth Congregational sanctuary at the northeast corner of University with 3rd Avenue. Not seen here but revealed soon below is the Brooklyn Building across University Street at its southeast corner with Second Avenue.


Looking west on University Street through its intersection with Third Ave.


(First appeared in Pacific, June 2, 1991)

There’s nothing cosmetic about this cityscape. The·photographer has recorded a candid capture of what University·Street west from Third Avenue looked like at the turn of the century. Less regard is given the architecture. (The modest homes on the north side of the street – to the right – where the Northold Inn was later raised appear in the early – penultimate – look up University Street across Second Avenue.)

While not dominating the scene, the Hotel Brooklyn, on the left, may look familiar. It is one of the few uptown (that is, north of Pioneer Square) 19th-century brick piles that survive. The hotel was completed in 1889, the year of the city’s “Great Fire.”

The Brooklyn Building at the southeast corner of Second Ave. and University Street.
Lawton Gowey snapped snapped the corner in the warmth of an afternoon sun on August 25, 1976.

Construction on the Arlington Hotel also began before the tower, and its foundation helped stop the northerly spread of the flames along the waterfront.  The Arlington tower shows here just to the right of the Brooklyn and at the southwest corner of First Avenue and University Street, the site now for Harbor Steps.


Above: Author-editor Hall Will photographed this parade scene looking south on Third Avenue from Union Street sometime between the Spring of 1947 and mid-1949 when the onset of polio forced him to put aside his photography.  (Photo courtesy of Hal and Shirley Will)  Below: The relatively recent construction of Benaroya Hall replaced a full block of mostly brick low and mid-rise commercial buildings, which in the early 20th century had taken the places of pioneer structures, including a few clapboard homes like the Charles Denny Home at the southwest corner of Third and Union, printer here at the bottom of this “now-then.”


(Appeared in Pacific in 2008)

In February 1947, only a few months after Hal Will returned from his WW2 duty as a 20 year old army tug boat captain in the Philippines, he enrolled in the charter classes of the Northwest Institute of Photography.   The new school’s labs and classrooms were in the University Building, seen here in the “then” at the northwest corner of 3rd Avenue and University Street, left of center.

Hal took this photograph of American Legion members parading on Third Avenue sometime after enrolling and before he was inflicted in 1949 at the age of 23 with a life-long crippling case of polio.

Will’s photograph is spread over two pages in the Magnolia Historical Society’s most recent production, “Magnolia, Making More Memories.”  Hall is one of the about forty authors that were involved in the creation of this hefty nearly 400-page book.  His essay “Early Railroad Days: Interbay” shines with both his wit and his own photographs.  And his second contribution,  “Bad Judgment in Cebu”, is a wise and droll recounting of his army life in the Philippines.

In the maritime and heritage communities Hal Will is famous hereabouts as the founder and editor of the Sea Chest, a well-wrought periodical associated with the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.  (The PSMHS was founded in 1948, or about the time Hal recorded this view with his 4×5 inch view camera.)  In the week before this last Christmas and after a short illness the erudite 81-year-old died.  Many others and I will miss his good wit, and frequent contributions to community history.

Fortunately, his fine writing – and he wrote a lot – can still be repeatedly enjoyed.  And so can our memory of him.

About 44 years before Hal took his parade photo looking south on 3rd with his back to Union Street, a photogrpaher named Brown took this morning snap of the temporary booths set up in that block for the Elks Lodge's 1902 Seattle Fair and Carnival. Note the gate at the University Street end of the block. One paid to attend. The tower of Plymouth Church crowds the upper-left corner. Perhaps the parishioners had passes.
Charles Denny's home at the southwest corner of Union and 3rd Ave. Architectural historian - and Lutheran minister - Dennis Andersen gave me a copy-negative of this subject while he was using it for his and Katheryn Hills Krafft's chapter on "Pattern Books, Plan Books, Periodicals" in "Shaping Seattle Architecture" the ever helpful book on our built history, edited by Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, and published by the University of Washington Press. Charles was one of the founding father's clan: a son of Arthur and Mary Denny, and his large home was but one and one-half blocks east of the the parents' home. The Charles Denny home also shows in the next photo, on the left.


Looking through the same block on Third between Union and University Streets, but this time north towards Denny Hotel on top of Denny Hill. As noted, the Charles Denny home appears here as well on the left. (Courtesy, Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries.)


(First appeared in Pacific, April 28, 1985.)

Luther Griffith is one of Seattle’s rarely remembered capitalists. In the 1890s he was out to sell street railways. For promotion purposes, Griffith put together a photo album featuring the work of pioneer photographer Frank LaRoche, a name that’s easy to remember because he wrote it on his negatives.  It’s not clear whether LaRoche recorded the photos on assignment for Griffith, or if the entrepreneur focused on the photographer’s work because it served his purpose so well. Griffith’s album shows off a Seattle that’s progressive, forward thinking and up to date.

The subject here is one example from the album. Taken in 1891, it flaunts one of early Seattle’s main urban symbols. There looming above the city in the distant half-haze is the elegant bulk of the Denny Hotel atop Denny Hill. LaRoche must have set his tripod on the dirt of Third Avenue, one hundred yards of so south of Union Street, but he was safe. Compared to the modern race of internal combustion that is’ now Third, in 1891 it was a pleasantly relaxed but dusty grade where more than one horse and buggy (on the right) could casually park facing the wrong way on the two-way street.

The second tower in this scene (left of center) sits atop the brick Burke Block at the northwest corner of Third and Union. On the main floor the plumber and steam fitter A.F. Schlump did his business. Across Union is a mansion-sized home, a vestige of the old Single-family neighborhood. By 1891, this 1300 block of Third Avenue between University and Union streets was packed with diverse commerce. There was a dressmaker, a hairdresser, three rooming houses, a music teacher, a mustard manufacturer, a retail druggist, a wholesale confectioner, two tobacconists, a second-hand store, a restaurant, a sewing machine store and Mrs. Cox, who listed herself in the 1891 Polk Business Directory as simply, “artist.”

Also, at the Union Street end of this block was the Plummer Building, the two-story clapboard with the three gables on the photo’s right. This building housed more retailers plus a saloon and the Seattle Undertakers.

Ten years later, the progress on Third Avenue got so intense the Plummer Building was picked up and moved two blocks north to Pine Street to make way for the Federal Post Office. The post office is still on the Union Street side and pictured on the right of the “now” photo [when we once more bring it to light].

Beginning in 1906, Third Avenue’s forward-look started sighting through Denny Hill, which in the next four years would be nearly leveled as far east as 5th Avenue allowing the street to pass through the Denny Regrade with barely a rise. The grand hotel, LaRoche’s subject and Griffith’s symbol, was razed with the hill.


The Mackintosh mansion at the southeast corner of Third Ave. and University Street, during the 1906-7 regrade.


(First appeared in Pacific, Jan. 24, 1988)

[As the first line hints, the below was first composed while Third Ave. was being tunneled for the transit.] The current commotion along and below Third Avenue is a mere inconvenience compared with the upheavals that accompanied the 1906-07 regrading on the downtown street.  Imagine having to live next door to such disarray. That was the fate Angus and Lizzie Mackintosh, who built the mansion on the right at the southeast comer of Third Avenue and University Street. Not only did the work disrupt their view and domestic quietude, it left their home perched more than twenty feet higher than the regarded street.

Angus, a native of Ontario, and Lizzie, one of the pioneering “Mercer Girls” who came here in 1866 when the male-female ratio was 9-to-l, met while Lizzie was working as the first woman enrolling clerk in the state’s House of Representatives in Olympia. Working to promote lumber mills, railroads and banks, the couple had built enough of a nest egg to finance construction of the mansion in 1887.

The stately home had seven rooms downstairs, five upstairs and three quarters for servants under the roof. In 1907, soon after the regrade was completed, Bonney-Watson funeral directors, moved into the mansion.  As a sign that death has no end, the mortician was the second-longest continuously operating business in Seattle.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was first until its own recent passing. In 1928 the Northern Life Tower (later renamed the Seattle Tower), which many still consider the most beautiful office building in Seattle, was erected at the site.

The Northern Life Tower under construction circa 1927 and photographed from the roof of the University Building at the northwest corner of 3rd and University.

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