For this “Fair and Festival” installment we repeat a Pacific feature we printed earlier in , but now additions to help you, dear reader, find the spot more easily with aerial photographs and other points of view. The Eaton Apartments were set at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Thomas Street and so kitty-korner from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, once it lost its parish on 6th and Bell in 1928 to the last of the Denny Regrades. The long sky-lighted pavilion built there for Century -21 was named, for the fair, the Domestic Commerce and Industry Building (aka Hall of Industry.) It faced the Plaza of States (aka Flag Plaza). After the fair the building got a new and sensible name: The Flag Plaza Pavilion. It was home in 1978 for King Tut’s first lucrative visit to Seattle. The Eaton Apartments covered about one-third of the Flag Plaza footprint – the most westerly third. We will point it out again below in a 1928 aerial photograph and also in Frank Shaw’s colored slide of the apartment’s back or north facade during its last months before being razed for the fair.
Above: Looking kitty-corner across Thomas Street and Second Ave. North to the Eaton Apartments, ca. 1940. It is a rare recordings of Seattle Center acres before their make-over for the 1962 Century 21. Below: Jean Sherrard visited the intersection during the recent playing of the Folklife festival 2012, and “captured” folk-jazz artist Erik Apoe, with his guitar, leaving the festival after his performance. Bottom: During the 2012 Bumbershoot Jean returned to the corner which included then – for the duration of Bumbershoot – one of the escape gates from the ticketed festival. With his press credentials hanging from this next (although this year they were merely stuck to his shirt) Jean could easily come and go.
THE EATON APARTMENTS
(First appeared in Pacific, Aug. 8, 2010)
I know nothing about the provenance of this photograph, except that it showed up as a thoughtful anonymous gift on my front porch among a small bundle of negatives. Still with the help of a tax card, a few city directories, and a scattering of other sources we can make some notes.
With his or her back to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, an unknown photographer looked northeast through the intersection of Second Avenue North and Thomas Street. The Eaton Apartment House across the way was built in 1909 – in time perhaps for the city’s first world’s fair. It held 19 of everything: tubs, sinks, basins, through its 52 plastered rooms. In the 1938 tax assessment it is described as in “fair condition” with a “future life” of about 13 years. In fact, it held the corner for a full half century until it was leveled to build Seattle’s second worlds fair.
The Eaton and its nearby neighbor, the Warren Avenue School, were two of the larger structures razed for Century 21. However, the neighborhood’s biggest – the Civic Auditorium, Ice Arena, and the 146th Field Artillery Armory – were given makeovers and saved for the fair. Built in 1939, the old Armory shows on the far right. Although not so easy to find it is also in the “now” having served in its 71 years first as the Armory, then the ’62 fair’s Food Circus, and long since the Center House.
This is part of David and Louisa Denny’s pioneer land claim, which Salish history explains served for centuries as a favorite place to snag low-flying ducks and hold potlatches. The oldest user of the Eaton Apt site was even more ancient. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) brought King Tut, or at least parts of his tomb, to the Flag Pavilion in 1978. It was about then that Andy Warhol also showed up to party with SAM in the old pavilion, which in 2002 was replaced and greatly improved with the Fisher Pavilion.
Readers who have old photographs of this neighborhood from before the 1962 fair (they are rare) or of the fair itself might like to share them with historylink. That non-profit encyclopedia of regional history is preparing a book on the fair, one that will resemble, we expect, its impressive publication on the recent Alaska Yukon Pacific Centennial. As with the AYP book, the now hard-at-work authors are Paula Becker and Alan Stein. You can reach them by phone at 206-447-8140 or on line at Admin@historylink.org.
We will wrap No. 23 with another Frank Shaw photo. This one, we figure, looks north and a little east from what would become the Pacific Science Center. The Catholics, at the southeast corner of Second and Thomas, are here right-of-center, which is also often the position of its clerics if not always the parishioners. Far-right, is the yellow strut, beam, girder, stanchion, transverse on the east quadrant of the Coliseum and here under construction. It appears above where the Eaton Apartments would be standing – if they still were. Queen Anne Hill is on the horizon.