A World-Class MOHAI

Paul and I visited the spanking new Museum of History and Industry a couple of days before its grand opening and explored this Northwest treasure. Photos follow from both of us, in no particular order:

(as always, click to enlarge photos)

The new museum gleams in the light of the setting sun
Paul at the front desk
Dorpat gazes out from a sculpture carved from the Wawona
Inside, looking down toward the water of Lake Union
Inside the sculpture looking up
Genny McCoy with the Wawona
Historian Lorraine McConaghy lectures the assembled
Photo curator Howard Giske (R) with cycle collector and historian Thomas Samuelsen.
Slo-Mo-Shun, of course
The main floor from above
Exhibit Designer
Looking down on the main floor, Boeing's original mail plane in flight
MOHAI's periscope relocated - in the Maritime Room. And the views are great!
Looking north from the Maritime Room
Celluloid Seattle designer Julianne Kidder with Exhibits Manager Mark Gleason
Celluloid Seattle remembers the drive-in, with a Mustang convertible
Celluloid Seattle's celebration of films made in Seattle - this one featuring Naomi Watts
Sherrard with now & then photos taken for Celluloid Seattle
Dorpat with pals
MOHAI supporter Georgie Bright Kunkel stands next to the original sculpture she donated
Another view from above
Paul with some MOHAI staff members outside
Paul with Argosy Captain Karen Allred
Mohai emerging from the clouds
A MOHAI panorama



Seattle Now & Then: The Rainier Club & the Burnett Home

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The 53-year-old Burnett home at the northeast corner of 4th Ave. and Columbia Street was completed nearly forty years before the Rainier Club was built at the north end of the block in 1904. In between them, and showing far left, the Burnett’s built a small apartment house. The family named it for itself, the Burnett Flats. (courtesy, Ron Edge)
NOW: Since 1929 the pioneer Burnett home site and their flats beside it have been breached by the enlarged Rainier Club and its corner parking lot. The extended clubhouse now hides what, from this corner, the 1918 view reveals: the First Methodist Protestant Church behind it.

Early this autumn Jean Sherrard and I stood on the roof – as it were – of the home standing here at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Columbia Street.

We were presenting one of our “repeat photography” programs to the Seattle Surgical Society for its September meeting and banquet in the Rainier Club.  Timing our show with the desert, we included this apt subject, which includes part of the clubhouse, as a sweet surprise. We were fortunate that the banquet’s location – the large dining hall at the south end of the club’s second floor – hit the spot. While projecting this subject on the screen, we explained, “Here we stand above – or very near – this pioneer home site, which later the Rainier Club first razed and then built upon with its 1929 enlargement.

While neither Jean nor I took a photograph of our dinner with the doctors, I did take several in the same room four years earlier for what I believe was historylink's first fundraising lunch at the Rainier Club.

During our time with the surgeons we could not reveal the history of this modest home. We didn’t know.  But now with the help of our frequent contributor Ron Edge we discover that three generations of Burnetts lived there.  The subject appeared in the Seattle Times for June 2, 1918 and was headlined “It’s Seattle’s Oldest Home Built 53 years ago.”

[Best to click the below TWICE!  At least that makes a difference on this MAC.]

A page from The Seattle Times for June 2, 1918.

After Port Ludlow mill man Hiram Burnett built this six-room home during the winter of 1865, he and his wife Elizabeth moved to Seattle that spring so that their two children would be near the University.  When their son Charles graduated from the University and married, “he took his bride to live in the little house.”  The couple’s own son, Charles Jr. served a term on the Seattle City Council, and recalled his grandfather Hiram explaining that all the wood for the Seattle home – including the spruce siding – was first cut at his Port Ludlow mill and that he then “sent the pieces up here and merely put them together.”

[BEST TO CLICK twice.]

Hiram and his grandson, April 12, 1906
Another portrait of Hiram and grandson, but this time also for his death notice, April 25, 1906.
Already one of the oldest on June 6, 1900.

During his visit to the “oldest home” in 1918, the unnamed Times reporter was pleased to note that for a rental of $12.50 a month it “houses a force of industrious Italians who turn out plaster of paris reproductions of the famous art works of their native land.”

An early ca. 1912 look into the neighborhood during construction of the Smith Tower - and from it. The Rainier Club is easily found at the southeast corner of Marion and 4th. Behind it is First Methodist Church and beside it the Burnett Family home and namesake three-story apartment/hotel. The three structures facing Columbia Street at its northwest corner with Fifth Avenue are treated with their own feature a few presentations below, as is the Colman mansion across Columbia Street at its southeast corner with Fourth Avenue. The cleared block between 5th and 6th Avenues and Columbia and Marion Streets was home for the Rainier Hotel, about which something will be added in the next feature below.


Anything to add, Paul?  Surely Jean.  First congratulations to MOHAI with the opening of its newly fitted home in the old Naval Armory at the south end of Lake Union.  As you know while we attended the new MOHAI for the opening arranged for members, a winter sunset broke through the clouds in the west and bathed the south Lake Union campus in a most auspicious golden light.   Here’s a merge of six snaps, and thanks to Ron Edge for fitting the pieces together.  [Click it TWICE to enlarge]

And praise be to thee Jean and  your part in the array of new exhibits.  Here’s a snap of you in front of the montage of “repeats” you did covering the curators chosen collection of historic – what else? – Seattle Theatres.  Visitors will find it and film clips galore on the first mezzanine.

As is our practice by now, we will add a few more features from the neighborhood, but first introduce them with a few aerials of the neighborhood.  Most – maybe all – come courtesy of Ron Edge.

A circa 1923 look north from the Smith Tower with a pan which includes Burnett corner and its neighbor the club. While the northeast corner of Columbia and 4th is fronted by Billboards where once the family has a front yard - although a steep one, the Burnett Flats are still in place.
With Burnett Arms razed and the corner briefly exploited with billboards, the northeast corner of Columbia and Fourth "prepares" for the club's addition.
The Rainier Club is set at the center of this detail pulled from a ca. 1929 aerial. Scaffolding for the club's 1929 addition appears to the right (south) of the club.
With the club set at the center, this recording from the Smith Tower finds the old Burnett corner now comely and free of billboards. Without much study, my circa date is 1946.


Looking east up Columbia Street from a prospect above Second Avenue. (Courtesy, Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries.)

COLUMBIA STREET West from Second Avenue

(First appeared in Pacific, May 15, 1983)

The Great Fire of 1889 encouraged the city to rebuild bigger and in brick. But its first response was a huge hotel which was constructed quick and cheap, and entirely of wood. The Rainier was ready for occupancy only 80 days after the first lumber was unloaded at the building site. This effort was the kind of manic community labor we associate with instant barn raisings. The result was the somewhat barn-like fortress we see filling the center horizon of our historical scene and the entire block between Columbia and Marion Streets, and Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

While flattening the city’s business district, the June 6 fire also consumed most of its halls and hotels. The thousands of “floating strangers” who began flooding these “ashes of opportunity” to help rebuild the city and themselves often had to sleep in tents or under trees. Since the grand brick hotels of the 1890s, including the Denny, Seattle, and Butler, took time to build, the Rainier was put up in a flash by a collection of the “moneymen of Seattle” led by Judge “He Built Seattle” Thomas Burke.  The Seattle Press-Times reported that “its construction was made possible by public spirited capitalists stepping forward regardless of whether it would be a paying institution or not.” It wasn’t.

In its five years as a showy hotel with a breezy view of the bay from a wrap-around veranda, the Rainier lost $100,000. The Great Crash of 1893 had its sad effect. On August 16, 1894 the Press-Times reported “In all probability the handsome Rainier Hotel will be closed in the near future . . . What will be done with the Rainier Building is not known.” The gold rush of 1897 came too late to save the Rainier. Then the miners, coming and going, dropped their tired bodies into the beds of hotels down by the waterfront. These included the Rainier Grand Hotel at First and Madison, whose furnishings – included – were moved in from the abandoned and bankrupt Rainier up on the hill.

The scene (on top) was photographed not in the hard times of 1893-94 but in 1891-92: good times still for both the Rainier and the Seattle-Press Times. The newspaper was published in its offices at 214 Columbia Street, mid-block between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. (The top of the newspaper’s sign can be seen at the lower left-hand corner of the photograph.)

Arthur Churchill Warner took this photograph, which includes other landmarks as well. The James Colman mansion survived at the southeast corner of Fourth and Columbia for the 55 years between 1883 and 1939. Its boxish cupola just barely breaks the horizon line on the far right.  (There’s more on the Colman home below.)

Another tower is seen just above and to the left of the Colmans. Standing six stories at the corner of Ninth and Columbia, Coppin’s Water Works supported a holding tank for water drawn by an adjoining windmill from springs beneath Charles Coppin’s combined home and business. Throughout the 1880s his water works supplied users down the hill, the Colman’s included. The water was delivered through bored logs, some of which were uncovered during the early 1960s excavation of Interstate-5.

Coppins water tower on the south side of Columbia Street between 9th and Terry Avenues.

Eisenhower’s Seattle Freeway also cut through the site which for 59 years supported the brick towers of Central School. Kitty-corner across Sixth and Marion from the Rainier, the school was also completed in 1889. However, it was made of brick, more than two million of them. Central School was Seattle’s only high school until 1902 when Broadway High was built “way out on Capitol Hill.” The Central’s weakened towers were prudently razed after the 1949 earthquake. The rest of the main building was leveled in 1953. Alumni – or by now their children – still display their souvenir bricks atop fireplace mantels.

Central School, looking southwest from 7th Avenue across Madison Street.

The Warner photograph is dappled with many other lesser landmarks. The Eureka Bakery, just left of center, was for years run by the pioneer Meydenbauer family. They are remembered by their namesake bay on Lake Washington and their creek which runs under Bellevue. Today, the Meydenbauer property on Columbia Street is filled by the old Central Building. Kitty-corner across Third Avenue, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce occupies the spot that in 1892 housed Bonney and Watson, the city’s oldest mortuary.

The Rainier Hotel was converted into apartments and survived until 1910. In 1896 the Seattle Press-Times became the Seattle Times and has – still as of this re-writing – survived.


Perhaps the earliest portrait of the Rainier Club, looking southeast across the intersection of Marion Street and Fourth Avenue.


(First appeared in Pacific, April 17, 1988)

In 1988 the Rainier Club celebrated its own centennial, one year before the state’s. Appropriately, it memorialized its century with a book history of the club. The author, Walter Crowley, concludes ” … as the wheel turns and future generations regard this curious mansion nestled at the feet of skyscrapers, the Rainier Club will still serve as a reminder of the remarkable individuals who shaped Seattle out of forests and mudflats . . .”It was only in 1986 that this “curious mansion” was officially recognized for what it has been since it was first constructed in 1904: a historical landmark. Wishing to keep its options, the club itself resisted the description for a time because the landmark designation restricts a structure’s future to those that preserve its historical integrity.

A Seattle Times report on the Rainier Club's plans to replace its brick club house with a new decoesque skyscraper. The clip dates from April 25, 1928, and is used courtesy of the Seattle Public Library's subscription to the Times archive dating from 1900 to 1985. (If you have a library card try it out. If you don't consider getting one. This is great fun.)

However, Seattle’s central business district would surely be more severe than it already is, were it not for the gracious relief of this well-wrought clubhouse. Modeled after the English example, this men’s club held its first meeting on Feb.23, 1888. The next day’s Seattle Daily Press reported that “the object of the club is like that of a hundred other kindred bands scattered over the face of the civilized world, the pursuit of pleasure among congenial conductors.” These convivial male circuits were lubricated by coffee, “freshened” with tobacco, and, no doubt, loosened some by spirits – very good spirits.

The local Force passes of the Rainier Club, part of a parade with no name.

Of course, the Rainier is no longer a men ‘ s club. In 1977 the club’s bylaws were amended to admit women, and by 1988, as Crowley’s history records, over 40 of the 1200 resident members were women. The former entrance for women “guests” shows on the left of the historical photograph at the rear of the Marion Street side of the club.

This top view of the club (their third home) looks across Fourth Avenue and dates from about 1909 or soon after the 1908 regrading of Fourth Avenue. Of the Rainier Club’s Jacobean style, the work of Spokane-based architect Kirtland K. Cutter, Crowley notes, “However antiquated the Club was designed to appear on the outside, the trustees spared no expense for modem luxuries on the inside, including telephones in every room.” The club’s style was preserved when its size was nearly doubled in 1929 with the south extension, the work of Seattle architects Charles Bebb and Carl Gould.

The Times early witness of first work on the Club's addition shows the razing of Burnett Flats. The clip is dated January 6, 1929.

Within these landmark walls many a landmark project has been planned, including Metro, Forward Thrust and both of Seattle’s world’s fairs – the 1909 Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition and the 1962 Century 2l. This meritocracy of, in the beginning, men included familiar names like Thomas Burke, Horace McCurdy, William Allen, Clarence Blethen, Emil Sick and Ed Carlson.

Walt and Marie at the signing reception for their then new book history of the Rainier Club.

Crowley quotes Carlson, “It used to be that if you had an important civic or political issue, you could get 25 or so people in a room at the Rainier Club and get a go or no-go decision.” Walter Crowley adds, “Those days are gone, for the leadership of Seattle has not merely shifted, it has fragmented, and with it the consensus from which the community’s establishment drew its tacit authority.”

Robert Bradley's Nov. 1, 1958 Kodachrome record of the Rainier Club.


A detail of these corners from our ever faithful 1912 Baist real estate map. The Rainier Club with First Methodist combine for the largest red footprint at the center. The Burnett's property is still distinguished with footprints for the family home, its hotel-apartments, and an shed on the corner used sometimes for light manufacturing. The two brick structures across Marion Street - on its north side - show, in part, in the photograph that follows this one, which was taken from the Y.M.C.A. .
Looking east from the Y.M.C.A. Dormitory over the roof of the Colman Court to part of the Seattle General Hospital on the left, and a large part of First Methodist near the scene's center, and the Rainier Club's north facade, bottom-right.
The Seattle General Hospital at the northwest corner of 5th and Marion. The view looks to the northwest.


The Meydenbauer home at the northeast corner of Columbia and Third Ave.

The MEYDENBAUER HOME – 3rd & Columbia

(First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 1, 1987)

Before the rapid redevelopment of Third Avenue following its regrade of 1906-7, its sides were graced with old homes and churches. One home – the one shown here – belonged to William Meydenbauer, the town confectioner.

Meydenbauer was 18 when he headed for the United States in 1850 after an apprenticeship with a candy maker in Prussia. He made his way to San Francisco bu 1854, where after a nearly ruinous try at gold mining, and a short experiment with teamstering, he returned to the small but sweet rewards of confections.

The Meydenbauers, William and Thelka, moved to the Northwest in 1868 when Seattle had less than 1,000 cash-poor residents expecting growth for their 16-year-old village, but mostly waiting for it. Those post-civil-war years were sour, so the confectioner was welcome. The candy man built a home on Third Avenue at Columbia Street around 1880. Before that there may have been a crude shack on the property but little else. At the time, Seattle’s idea of refreshments for fancy public receptions was sliced apples and gingerbread.

The Meydenbauers bought the Eureka Bakery on Commercial Street (now

First Avenue South) and soon added to the town’s sweet offerings with a selection of well-dressed candies and sweets, including celebrated Yule cakes. Soon enough they and the town prospered and in the mid-188Os, the couple moved their business into a bigger bakery they had built behind the family home. The rear of that plant is pictured behind the tree and to the left of their home in this week’s “Then” photo.

By employing several helping hands and running two delivery wagons, Meydenbauer was efficient enough to sell wholesale. No doubt it helped that they raised eight children.  A son, Albert, continued in his father’s profession after the latter’s death in 19O6. After the 1007 regrading of Third Avenue, the Meydenbauer home, and much else on the block, was replaced by the Central Building, which is still , standing.

The Central Building, far left, facing Third Avenue on its east side between Columbia and Marion Streets.The Burnett home site is intact one block east on Columbia. To its left is the Rainier Club, and across Columbia Street to its right is the Colman home. St. James Cathedral on the east side of 9th Avenue between Columbia and Marion still shows its dome, so Otto Frasch recorded this view before the cupola's collapse under the Big Snow of 1916 - actually well before.

Long since this family is not remembered for its sweets but rather its waterway. In 1868 Meydenbauer rowed across Lake Washington and set a claim beside the Bellevue bay which still bears the family name.

Recorded from the Alaska Building, ca. 1905, the rare snap includes the Meydenbauer home and the Burnetts as well. Second Ave. is on the left.


North on Fourth Avenue from Cherry Street. The Colman home is on the right.


(First appeared in Pacific, May 8, 1983)

Every few decades with the help of earthquakes, fires, nervous engineers, and metropolitan dreamers, west coast cities like San Francisco, Vancouver, and Seattle are “made over.”  Seattle’s Fourth Avenue – the one in its Central Business District – has had four transformations.

Our historical photograph shows it passing into its third form, as Fourth Avenue is losing its residential emphasis. The sides of the street are being furnished with institutions, like the Carnegie Library and Rainier Club in the scene’s center, and hotels, like the Stander and Lincoln on the left.  This avenue have become Seattle’s deepest urban canyon with its sides of glass and polished metal.

A detail of the photograph above it.

The historical photograph was taken about 1905 by Arthur Warner a short time after the library, club, and hotels were built. By then the street had already lived through its first two forms. In the early 1860s Fourth Avenue was cut out of the virgin forest, some of which returned from Yes1er’s mill as planks for building the few modest homes that soon irregularly lined the sides of this stump-strewn path. Fourth ran from the tideflats on the south to as far north as Denny’s Knoll (not Hill) as Seneca Street. There it stopped at a white picket fence – a small swinging gate counterbalanced by horseshoes opened to the grounds of Washington Territory’s university, for years the city’s and Fourth Avenue’s most distinguished landmark.

Fourth Avenue looking south over Seneca Street from the Territorial University in 1874, the inscribed caption claims.

Fourth Avenue’s second form was also residential, but with more lavish homes that faced a street which although unpaved was given a regular width, curbed against sidewalks, lined with utility poles, and lit at the intersections. The duplex on the right of the view above counts as one of these classier second-stage residences. The tower behind it is attached to one of this street’s distinguished mansions, the home of pioneers Agnes and James Colman. Like the McNaught mansion, whose tower is seen in the distance beyond the library, the Colmans’ spacious Latinate-Victorian showpiece was built in 1883 and remained through the turn of the century, a symbol of Fourth Avenue’s domestic elegance.

Already on entering their third decade these grand homes became vestiges of an earlier urbanity. In 1903 the imposing McNaught mansion was moved across Spring Street to make room for the Carnegie Library.   And in 1907-08 a metamorphosis occurred to the street itself which dramatically fashioned it into its third form. The Fourth Avenue regrade resulted in some casualties and many alterations. Denny’s Knoll was cut through and the old landmark university first moved and then leveled. Practically every structure along the new grade required either new steps to the old front doors, as with the library, or new front doors into their old basements, as with the hotels.

The Fourth Avenue regrade looking south from Madison Street. The Stander Hotel at the northwest corner of Marion is on the right showing a new colonnaded main floor, a "gift" and necessity of the 1907-08 regrade. A trestle crosses 4th at Columbia Street and the front facade of the Burnett Flats can be found to the left of it.

The city engineer’s longing to make “the crooked straight and the rough places plane” resulted in some very deep cuts. For instance, a contemporary photograph at Cherry Street (We truly have more than one but cannot at this alarming moment find them.) would be taken some two stories below Arthur Warner’s location in the historical view. The 4th Ave. cut at this intersection was 24 feet. By 1911 a bricked-over avenue showed the same unruffled grade that made it the preferred course for the bed races of the 1970s.

Agnes Colman continued to live in her towering home until her death in 1934. By then her mansion, the last sign of the elegant eighties and alternately depressed and roaring nineties, was thoroughly surrounded by retailers and restaurants. Today that era of conservative cosmopolitan taste is recalled only by the Rainier Club, the single structure which survives from the “then.”  The five-story Rainier Club houses 57,000 square feet of plush sitting rooms, coat-and-tie dining rooms, and other elite areas only its restricted membership – and their guests –  know.

When the Columbia Center was completed as the crowning touch to Fourth Avenue’s fourth form, it filled the old Colman mansion site with more than a million and and a half square feet of office space stacked 76 stories high. In some future decade or century when the Columbia Center’s 954 feet are dismantled – or imploded – by God, man, or nature, Fourth Avenue Will be passing into its fifth form.


The Stander Hotel opened in 1905. Only six years later it was sold to its neighbor the YMCA and converted into that service organization’s Army and Navy Branch. In 1930 the not-so-old hotel was razed and replaced with the YMCA’s then new South Building. Although the elegant Collegiate Gothic exterior design of the building survives the interior was elaborately renovated, enlarged and stabilized during its 1999-2000 upgrade. Most likely this Potlatch Parade scene is from that summer festival's first 1911 parade, the last full year for the Standard before it became part of the enlarge Y.M.C.A.


(First appeared in Pacific, May 29, 2001)

[BEST to click the below TWICE]

This feature's clip cut from the Pacific for April 29, 2001.


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)  Little – if anything? –  has changed on the south side of Marion Street between 3rd and 4th Avenues in the about 80 years between this “now and then.” [I have a feeling that we included this feature with an earlier assembly of past essays.]


(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.”


Recorded from the then new Central Building on Third Avenue, the Colman Home stands in the embrace of the Oakland Inn at the southeast corner of 4th Ave. and Columbia Street. Trinity Episcopalian Church at 7th and James is on the left horizon and the Snoqualmie Power transfer station near 7th and Jefferson appears, in part, far right.


(First appeared in Pacific, August,28, 1994)

In 1915 a photographer from the Curtis and Miller studio recorded this view of the nearly new Oakland Inn from a rear window of the Central Building at Third and Marion. The scene may have been shot speculatively or at the request of the Oakland’s owners. Whichever, as seen from this prospect the Oakland appears as a platform or stage for the performance of the ornate Colman mansion. Agnes and James Colman built their Italianate Victorian home in 1883. They moved in soon after returning from a tour of Europe. This long vacation was the reward for years of prodigious pioneer labor. By then, the Colmans had created sawmills, machine shops, railroads, sailing vessels, coal mines and many buildings, including their stylish new mansion. The Colmans themselves, however, were never very stylish. When they returned, James Colman went back to work. As their granddaughter Isobel would recall, the Colmans were “never a society family. My father was too busy to become involved in leisure life.”

James Colman died in 1906. Five years later the wide front lawn in front of the family home was excavated for the Oakland Inn. Its sidewalk businesses here include, right to left, Imperial Coffee; Benjamin Rosenthal, tailor; the Cash Grocery (vacant); and, at the comer, the offices of the Pyreen Manufacturing Company. The entrance to the Oakland Inn was up Columbia Street.

Agnes Colman lived in her mansion behind the Oakland until 1936. As an elderly woman -she lived to be 94 – Agnes would come down from her home to hand out meal tickets to the audience of homeless or out-of-work indigents waiting for her on Fourth Avenue. There were, of course, many drunks among them and all were first required to listen to her familiar brief lecture on temperance.

A scene from one of the early Potlatch parades - 1911 thru 1913 - which looks southeast through the intersection of Fourth Ave. and Columbia Street. On the far left is the short cliff on the Burnett property, the gift of the 1907-08 regrade. The exposure can be judged by the size of the youths - teens it seems - sitting on the ledge. And note the broadside or post leaning again the cut bank, which appears to be rather sturdy. The Oakland Hotel appears behind the decorated teamster and a slice of the Colman Home too.


Duplexes on the north side of Columbia west of 5th Avenue. These structures appear often in the panoramas printed above.


Two more scenes from HISTORYLINK’S 2008 fund raiser lunch at the Rainier Club.   I recently had lunch with a precocious social media programmer who suggested that for the entertainment of this blog’s readers we should offer some prizes.  He mentioned leaving “blanks to be filled.”   So be it.  The first two readers who can identify the characters depicted in these two snaps will win . . .  something.   “We will make it worth your while.”  Jean especially is a fine gift-giver.

The speaker of the day is ______________.
These three Democratic pols are, left to right ________, ________, and ________.




Seattle Now & Then: Ballard's Bascule Bridge

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Ballard’s Railroad Depot and the Great Northern Railroad’s landmark lift bridge just west of the ship canal’s Chittenden Locks. (Courtesy, Warren Wing)
NOW: Ballard no longer has need of a railroad depot, but the Great Northern main line still passes here through the old mill town.

Hopefully a few trainloads of Pacific readers will remember Warren Wing, our recently deceased rail fan extraordinaire who after retiring as a postman started chasing trains and the pictorial history of Northwest rails full time.  Long ago Warren shared with the Ballard News Tribune this prized photo of a Great Northern passenger train nearly completing its crossing of the GN’s bascule bridge over the tidewater western end of Chittenden Locks.  The subject appears on page 82 the Tribute’s 1988 centennial history of their community, “Passport to Ballard.” Warren Wing has captioned it, “Great Northern Morning train to Vancouver B.C. passing Ballard Station.”  This carrier would have also stopped in Everett, Mt. Vernon, Bellingham and at the border but not, apparently, at the little Ballard Station obscured here in the shadow of the engine’s exhaust.

An early look to the northwest from Queen Anne across Salmon Bay into Ballard. The trestle showing is either for the first trolleys or the Great Northern's first bridge to Interbay. Some reader, surely, will know and make her or his point about it.
Looking north from interbay into Ballard - later. The sprawling bridge that runs through the center of the scene is roughly in line with 14th Avenue (not 15th) and services the street cars and wagons. The bridge on the left is for the Great Northern Railroad.

Rails first reach Ballard in 1890 with West Street Electric Company’s trolley service from downtown Seattle.  Three years later the Great Northern completed its transcontinental service to Seattle directly along the Ballard waterfront and beside the many mills that made it then the “shingle capitol of the world.”  This new route over the GN’s lift bridge was made necessary by the construction of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and the flooding of Salmon Bay behind its locks.  On June 29, 1913 this paper reported on the progress of the canal and the “spectacular form” of this “mammoth bridge,” which it measured at 1,140 long and 26 feet wide “to accommodate a double-track system.”

A profile of mid-term construction on the Great Northern bridge looking northeast from the Magnolia side.
Nearly the same point of view as the recording above it, but later.

In the pursuit of his “repeat” Jean Sherrard was soon inhibited by decades of changes. He recounts, “The overpass on 57th Street that we had hopes for was too distant from our subject, and the corrected prospect was both too steep and covered with foliage.  This left me in the rail bed just left of the tracks. To approximate the elevation of the original photographer, I hoisted my camera atop my ten-foot pole.  Walking back to my car, however, I did make one discovery. The original depot had been moved a hundred feet or so west, providing a spectacular view of the water – it had also been converted into a home, while retaining its distinctive gables. A neighbor confirmed that the former depot was now a residence.”  It would have been ideal Ballard home for Warren Wing.


Paul, I’m adding a couple of thumbnails of the old Ballard depot in its new location, transformed into a home:

Anything else to add, Paul?

A few related features Jean, beginning with two details of the once charming Ballard station followed by an early look north through the bridge from the Magnolia side..



(First appeared in Pacific, Oct. 26, 1986)

James A. Turner, who shot these pleasing views of the Salmon Bay Bridge, was one amateur who managed to put his photographic passion – railroads – on track with his vocation. During the 1930s, before the city got rid of its trolleys, Turner was a motorman on the Ballard line of the city’s transit system. During the weekdays he rode above the municipal rails, and then, judging from the size of his production, James Turner spent a good many evenings and weekends chasing trains or waiting for them.

For these subjects, Turner set himself off-shore on a Shilshole Bay dock below the Great Northern’s Salmon Bay Bascule Bridge, and so just west of the Chittenden Locks.

The Great Northern’s popu­larity among rail fans is a combination of its magnificent mainline through the Cascades and the Rockies, its safe and sturdy construction, its long Cascade tunnel, and the dashing green and black color scheme of its locomotives. And, perhaps, most of all the line is respected for its symbol, the mountain goat. Its dignity was totemic. A monumental rendering of this goat logo was painted on the Ballard end of the bridge’s massive counterweight.

As noted above with illustrations illustrating this week’s primary feature, the old mainline of the G.N. used to cross from Interbay into Ballard on a long curving bridge which spanned Salmon Bay near where the 15th Avenue auto bridge now crosses the ship canal. The bascule bridge was built in 1913-14 in part to avoid that trip along the shingle mill-congested Ballard waterfront. But it was also constructed to meet the inevitable demands of the Hiram S. Chittenden Government Locks. This was a bridge you could quickly open to let the big ships in and out of the new, in 1916, fresh water harbor behind the locks.  The bridge was left open for the convenience of shipping, for it could be quickly closed for any train.

Turner’s photographs are but two of his many picturesque records of this Salmon Bay passage. He lived in Ballard nearby the locks on 24th Ave­nue NW.  If I remember correctly (close enough) these and three other James A. Turner perspectives on the Salmon Bay bridge appeared originally in Warren Wing’s book, A Northwest Rail Pictorial.


A contemporary photograph of the Chittenden Locks taken from the same prospect as the historical would have required a roost in one of the upper limbs of the trees that landscape the terraced hill that ascends from the locks to the English Gardens. (Historical photo courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers)


(First appeared in Pacific, June 27, 2004))

In the descriptive and yet homely parlance of hydraulics the historical photograph reveals what Army Corp of Engineers called the “dewatered pit” of the ship canal locks at Ballard. In the six years required to build the locks – from breaking the ground in 1911 to the dedication in 1917 – this photograph was taken near the end of the first year, in the fall of 1912.

That the historical photographer from the Curtis and Miller studio stood on higher ground than I did for the “now” is evident from the elevation of the Magnolia side on the right. The “then” looks both across and down on the locks, the “now” merely across it. Why?

The dry pit is considerably wider than the combined big and small locks because the excavation cut well into the bank on the north side of the locks. Much of the mechanicals for opening the big lock’s gates are hidden in the hill that was reconstituted and shaped with terraces in the summer of 1915 once the concrete forms for the locks took their now familiar shape at what is by someone’s calculation the second most popular tourist destination in Seattle. (What then is first?)

Looking south from the English Gardens to, from bottom to top, the western entrance to the big lock, the end of the same for the small lock and the waters stirred from the nine foot drop over the Lock's dam. The terraced grass covers much of the dam's mechanicals - its hydraulics.

Most of the temporary dirt cofferdam, upper-right, that separated the construction site from the temporary channel was removed in the fall of 1915 after the greats gates to the locks were closed. Next, on the second of February 1916 the locks were deliberately flooded and the doors opened to permit commuters to make emergency commutes to downtown Seattle by boat when the “Big Snow” (the second deepest in the history of the city) shut down the trolleys.

Three of the big lock - left-to-right, as dewatered pit, on the "Big Snow" day the big lock was first flooded in Feb. 1916, and sometime later with the Army Corps snag boat.

The locks were left open for tides and traffic while the damn was constructed to join the locks to the Magnolia side. With the link completed the doors were again shut and Salmon Bay was allowed to fill with fresh water to the level of Lake Union in July 1916. The small lock began working later in the month and on Aug 3, 1916 the first vessels (both from the Army Corp fleet) were lifted in the big lock. The formal opening followed months later on July 4, 1917.

Asahel Curtis' early look west from the open locks to the raised Great Northern bridge.

In preparation for the 1916 flooding of Salmon Bay behind the locks Ballard’s waterfront of mostly mills and boat works was measured for the changes.


Above and below: After considering Shilsholia, which sounds similar to the native name for this waterway and means “threading the bead,” Lawtonwood got its name by vote of its residents in 1925. (Historical view courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry) In order to see over the well-packed “East Lawtonwood” Jean Sherrard took his “now” from near the north end of 42nd Ave. Northwest, about 100 feet above the waterway.  Behind him in “West Lawtonwood” the homes are often much larger and the lawns too.

“Threading the Bead” Between Magnolia and Ballard

(First appeared in Pacific, Dec.19, 2010)

Carolyn Marr, the librarian at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) and an authority of the photographer Anders Wilse’s years in Seattle, thinks that this his look east through the entrance to Salmon Bay – from Shilshole Bay – was probably taken in 1900.  That was Wilse’s last busy year in Seattle before he returned to Norway.  During his few years here Wilse received many commissions from businesses and the City of Seattle to do photographic surveys.  But why did he record this bucolic view over a Lawtonwood pasture with seven cows?

It was not long after Wilse recorded this view of the channel that the Army Corps started dredging it in preparation for the ship canal.  Throughout the 1890s smaller “lightening ships” hauled cut lumber from the many Ballard mills on Salmon Bay to the schooners anchored in deep water off of Shilshole Bay.  No vessels here, however.  The channel is near low tide.  You can make out the sand bars.

The home of Salmon Bay Charlie, a half-century resident here, can be found to the far right.  With irregular roof boards it may be mistaken for part of the shoreline.  Charley was one of the principal suppliers of salmon and clams to the resident pioneers on both sides of this channel.  Wilse gives us a good look across the tidewaters into a west Ballard that while clear-cut is still sparsely developed.  The Bryggers settled and developed that part of Ballard, and the few structures seen there may belong to them.

Librarian Marr finds two other related views in MOHAI’s Wilse collection. One looks in the opposite direction across the channel from Ballard, and the other is a close-up of Salmon Bay Charlie’s cedar-plank home.  Marr adds, “Wilse was interested in boats and waterways, as well as Indians.”

One last note: those may be Scheuerman cows.  The German immigrant Christian Scheuerman and his native wife Rebecca were Lawtonwood pioneers.  Settling here in 1870 they multiplied with 10 children.



'The Elephant and the Owl' by Pineola

Whether or not you attended our (Another) Rogues’ Christmas show, there’s still time to grab a wonderful stocking stuffer for the music lover in your life.

Yep, it’s Pineola’s latest CD, The Elephant and the Owl, comprised of songs written for and inspired by the stories told at Short Stories Live at Town Hall this past Sunday. A truly remarkable collection we most highly recommend. Available for purchase or download at the Pineola website.

HELIX Vol. 4 No. 1 July 3, 1968

While Bill White is studying hard for the mid-term – already – in his Spanish language class there in his new hometown of Lima, Peru – he did manage to take this break to discuss with me the July 3, 1968 offering of our 24 page tabloid.  Every week I am surprised by what we find including, so far, the fact that we had not yet turned into a weekly.  I thought it was long before this.   The attentive repeater will have noticed that we have not been keeping up with our weekly pledge, but then no one asked for promises and we have had extraordinary distractions like moving to Peru.  By his every description Bill is loving it.

[We will here attach a Spanish translation of the above as supplied by Google.  As Kel has instructed Bill these Google translations are often mistaken.  This, then, gives Bill another lesson with the chance to correct Google – with Kel’s help.]

Mientras Bill White está estudiando duro para el mediano plazo – ya – en su clase de español hay en su nueva ciudad de Lima, Perú – se las arregló para tomar este descanso para discutir conmigo el 03 de julio 1968 ofrenda de nuestra página 24 tabloide. Cada semana me sorprende lo que encontramos incluso, hasta el momento, el hecho de que no se había convertido aún en una semana. Me pareció que era mucho antes de esto. El repetidor atento se habrá dado cuenta de que no hemos estado al tanto de nuestro compromiso semanal, pero nadie le preguntó por las promesas y hemos tenido distracciones extraordinarias como mudarse a Perú. Por cada uno de sus Bill descripción le encanta.

[Estamos aquí adjuntar una traducción al español de lo anterior según lo provisto por Google. Como Kel ha dado instrucciones a Bill estas traducciones de Google a menudo se confunden. Esto, entonces, Bill da otra lección con la oportunidad de corregir Google -. Con la ayuda de Kel]

B.White and P. Dorpat

[audio:http://edge-archive.com/audio/04-01.mp3|titles=HelixVol 4 No 1]

Paris chronicle #45 Christmas Fathers in Paris

Christmas Fathers have landed rue de La Montagne Sainte Geneviève Paris 5th on Saturday evening,

what a joy in the street !!!

We all send our best wishes to Christmas Fathers and friends in Town Hall …


Les pères Noel ont débarqué rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève Paris 5eme samedi en fin d’après-midi , quelle joie dans la rue !!!

Nous souhaitons tous bonne chance aux pères Noel et leurs amis à Town Hall…



Dear Berangere, while Jean’s 2012 rendition of a Rogue’s Christmas at Town Hall was by all measures a happy and sometimes profound occasion, neither of us – Jean nor I – thought to take pictures of the event BB.  (Unless Jean did and he has not, as yet, shared them.)  This only snap of mine was a “mistake.”  I meant to press the video button to record the first of Pineola’s five performances – in their themes all imbricating with the stories Jean chose to be read by his players – but pressed the still shot button instead with this result.

I will make a quick critical review of the band’s performance.  It was damn tender and touching.  Pineola also cut a cd of these songs, which was available to those attending.  They did for last years Rogue’s Christmas as well.  Pineola is, left to right, Josh Woods, Bass; John Owen, Guitar; and Leslie Braly, vocals and guitar.  Leslie also wrote the songs.

I did manage to follow my button fumble and got the video going before they strummed the first chord.

PINEOLA on stage, TOWN HALL Dec. 16, 2012, for ROGUE'S CHRISTMAS

I must hasten to add to Paul’s comment about Pineola that their amazing CD, The Elephant and the Owl, comprised of songs played at the Town Hall concert is STILL available at the Pineola website.