Seattle Now & Then: West Seattle School

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Built in 1893, West Seattle School kept teaching until ruined by the region’s 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
THEN: Built in 1893, West Seattle School kept teaching until ruined by the region’s 1949 earthquake. (Courtesy Michael Maslan)
NOW: With the interruption of the 1949 earthquake students at Lafayette School – it’s name since 1918 – got a one week extension to their spring vacation, while the school looked for temporary classroom space, mostly in neighborhood churches.  A new and surviving Lafayette with Roman brick facing, was dedicated on the same corner on Dec. 11, 1950.
NOW: With the interruption of the 1949 earthquake students at Lafayette School – it’s name since 1918 – got a one week extension to their spring vacation, while the school looked for temporary classroom space, mostly in neighborhood churches. A new and surviving Lafayette with Roman brick facing, was dedicated on the same corner on Dec. 11, 1950.

Known popularly as “The Castle,” West Seattle School was built in 1893 with a bell tower but no bell, and eight classrooms for, that first year, twenty students.  For so few scholars and so many bricks the price of $40,000 seemed steep, especially after the national economy tanked with the 1893 financial panic.  Later Whitworth College proposed to take “The Brick School” (another popular name) off tax-payers hands for $20,000, but voters prudently determined to keep it, for West Seattle’s student population grew rapidly.

Soon after the 1902 introduction of the school district’s high school into the ornate structure, the West Seattle Improvement Club removed the bell from the neighborhood’s closed Haller School, a small fame precursor (1892) to this brick pile, and raised it to the Castle’s tower in 1903.  In 1909, or two years after West Seattle was incorporated into Seattle proper, eight classrooms were attached at the school’s north end.  That is the broad-shouldered landmark recorded here in 1910 by “real photo postcard” purveyor Otto Frasch. Still the facility was so packed that in January 1912 the district opened another three story brick primary, Jefferson School, one mile and a few blocks to the south.

The squeeze was also lightened in 1917 when West Seattle High School opened one long block to the south.  The Castle’s name was changed then to West Seattle Elementary School and one year later changed again to Lafayette, for Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French general who helped the colonists fight the British.  It is that somewhat exotic name that still holds today on the same northwest corner of California Avenue and Lander Street, although with a rambling one story plant, which when it opened in 1950 welcomed 775 pupils through the first six grades into nineteen classrooms.

Clipped from The Seattle Times, April 15, 1949.
Clipped from The Seattle Times, April 15, 1949.
From The Seattle Times for October 12, 1949.
From The Seattle Times for October 12, 1949.

The collapse of the Castle came in 1949, fortunately during spring vacation. The earthquake of April 13, also damaged beyond repair, Cascade School, another of the local academies built here in 1893. The falling bricks were foreseen here at Lafayette in 1923 when the bell tower was removed and the third floor – with the school’s gymnasium – closed forever for concerns of safety.

The Seattle Times, April 25, 1949
The Seattle Times, April 25, 1949

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  A sampler of West Seattle features from years past, Jean, beginning with Lafayette’s neighbor, West Seattle High School.

1. WSHigh-1937-WEB

Above and below – text from 2003:

That little has changed in its front façade facing Stevens Street in the 66 years covered in this week’s comparison is heartening evidence that the forces of preservation were standing guard during the recent renovation of West Seattle High School. Historical photo courtesy MUSEUM of HISTORY and INDUSTRY. Contemporary photo by Clay Eals.

1. West-Seattle-H.S-now-web

WEST SEATTLE HIGH

(Spring of 2003)

 

Here, appropriately, is a Seattle Sesquicentennial puzzle for “now-then” readers. What do the initials “SSHSBSLHM” mean to the historian in you?  

 

The answer will be revealed for those who continue (or jump) to the end of this feature on what – its graduates claim – is the high school with the largest alumni association in the country.   There are about 27,000 of them, and most of the 18,000 with confirmed addresses will be attending (or wanting to) this year’s All-School Reunion next Friday, June 6th.  A record turn out is expected because this is first reunion to be held since the reopening of the school.  

 

And this week’s comparison reveals that the two-year renovation of West Seattle High School was also a restoration.  Besides the landscaping there is little that is different between the 1937 scene and the “now” that West Seattle historian Clay Eals photographed 66 years later.   The observant reader might notice that the cupola has changed.  After a 1983 fire that burned a hole in the roof consumed the original cupola with it, renovation-restoration architect Marilyn Brockman prescribed that the new cupola be constructed to the full size – 6 feet taller — described in the original architect Edgar Blair’s blueprints but not followed in the first construction.   

 

West Seattle High School opened in the fall of 1917 to about 400 students most of whom were coeds because many of the boys were then recently involved either as enlistees or with other jobs in the mobilization connected with America’s entry into the First World War.  

 

The stories of the West Seattle Indians (this past April renamed the Wildcats) will continue to be told after next Friday’s All-School reunion with cherished artifacts, ephemera and photographs in the new exhibit “Rich Traditions” just mounted at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s Birthplace of Seattle Log House Museum.  And that is that SSHSBSLHM for short.   For those who have not visited the Log House as yet they may learn what those who have know that the shows put on there are worth the trip.  The corner address is 3003 61st Ave. S.W.  That is one long block off Alki Beach.  Call 206-938-5293

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2.-Hainsworth-Hs-WSeattleTHEN-WEB

Above and Below:

The older Hainsworth home (of the two treated here) in West Seattle on 46th Avenue SW north of Massachusetts Street is certainly one of the oldest residents in Seattle.  Although it has been added onto over the years the home is still distinguished and very fit.  Richard and Holly Grambihler, the present owners, are pleased to point out how the strange variation in the number of panes in the two front second floor bedroom windows survives.  On the left the pattern is four up and four wide.  On the right it is four up and three wide. Such are the pleasures of preservation.

Historical photo courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Log House Museum.

2. Hainswoth-home-early-NOW1625-46th-AveWEB

HOMES of MARY and WILLIAM HAINSWORTH on the WEST SEATTLE “PLATEAU”

         This week and next we’ll feature two William Hainsworth homes.  Here is William Henry Hainsworth II Victorian mans on 46th Avenue Northwest overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympics.  Next it will be “William the Third’s” home on S.W. Olga Street overlooking Elliott Bay and Seattle.   Both distinguished residences survive up on the West Seattle plateau although their neighborhoods are separated by one of the most enchanted and yet hidden natural features of Seattle, the deep and long Fairmount Ravine.  

         William and Mary Hainsworth, their daughter Betsy and two sons Will III and John moved to the West Seattle plateau in 1889 when, according to the recollection of Will III’s brother in law Arthur Stretch, it was still “covered with second-growth timber and brush.”   Both the Stretch and Hainsworth families lived on what the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company named Columbia Street — Arthur Stretch’s father Richard was the engineer who laid it out.   The name was changed to 46th when West Seattle was annexed into Seattle in 1907.  The fathers of both families – William II and Richard – were English immigrants and by Arthur’s accounting their’s were the first two families to settle there.  They and their families were very close with Will III marrying Arthur’s sister Florence.

         The 57-year-old Will II moved to West Seattle directly from Pittsburg where he had considerable success building a steel foundry when still in his late thirties.  Family tradition, at least, has Andrew Carnegie advising him to stay in Pennsylvania but Hainsworth declined and opened a new foundry in Ballard.  It might have taken a while then to get between Ballard and West Seattle but not forever.  The San Francisco based developers that promoted the West Seattle plateau outfitted it with cable cars and an 8-minute ferry ride to Seattle.

         This may not be the earliest photograph of that early Hainsworth home. Another appears in Chapter Three of the West Side Story (page 28) where there is much more about the two families and the early years of life on the plateau.

 

HAINSWORTH ENGLISH MANOR HOUSE on OLGA STREET

 

2.-Belvedere-Hs-WSeaMR

Apparently when the Hainsworth home on Olga Street was built in 1907 the streets were still only lines on the plat map.  The contemporary view looks southwest along 37th Avenue SW.  It was taken a stones throw (to the rear) from the Belvedere Viewpoint on SW Admiral Way. (Historical View Courtesy of West Seattle’s Log House Museum.)

2. HAINSWORTH-2-NOW-WEB3

 

Last week we featured an early view of William Hainsworth Senior’s West Seattle home on 46th Avenue S.W.  Built in 1889 it was one of the first two residences on the West Seattle plateau and it survives.  True to our promise then here is the English Manor Manse of William Jr and Florence Hainsworth.  Florence’s maiden name was Stretch, and with the Hainsworths the Stretches was the other of the first two families.  They also lived on 46th.  When the couple’s grand home was built in 1907 at the southwest corner of SW Olga Street and 37th Ave. SW it was still a different neighborhood from that of the older homes on 46th overlooking Alki Beach.  The new mansion was sited so that it could look directly over Elliott Bay to the Seattle waterfront.

The Hainsworth family motorcar posing with the family and their home on Olga.
The Hainsworth motorcar posing with the family and their home on Olga.

 

In visiting the old homes from the new the couple could not at first easily follow the crow for although there were probably plenty of crows in the deep Fairmount Ravine there was no substantial bridge over it.  The Hainsworths were leaders in getting the bridge built.

 

When Florence’s brother Arthur returned from the Yukon Gold Rush in 1899 he and his brother-in-law William Jr. opened the Coney Island Baths, one of the first on Alki Beach.  While Arthur had been digging in Alaska William had been playing it careful with real estate in West Seattle and obviously doing very well at it.   

2. Belvedere-House-recent-WEB

 

Arthur recalls their pleasant times together in the Hainsworth mansion. “Will and my sister were great ones for entertaining and my wife and I spent many happy times with them.  They would have community sings, dances and card parties and their tennis court and croquet field were popular.  Every year they held a fourth of July celebration for the whole community with games, picnic supper, and fireworks in the evening … It seems to me that Will Hainsworth always was involved in some civic project for the improvement of the district and he assumed that I would work with him.”  

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3. 1932-ca-Seattle-fm-West-Seattle-WEB

Above the bay, a key to comparing about 75-years of changes in the central business district is to find the Smith Tower.  It appears in both views roughly a third of the way in (or left) from the right border.  The northwest corner of Harbor Island protrudes into the bay directly beneath the tower.
In the foreground of the “then” but subtracted from the “now,” are the 1,150 foot long Colman Creosoting Wharf and the Nettleton Lumber Company just beyond it, both built above pilings and both long-time fixtures in this southwest corner of Elliott Bay.

3. West-Seattle-view-NOW-500x327

 

THE VIEW from BELVEDERE VIEWPOINT
(from June 12, 2010)

I will fudge some with this depression-time view of Seattle from West Seattle’s Belvedere Viewpoint, and date it circa 1934-35.   It includes at least one small structure (too small to point out) that was completed in 1933, and it shows Pier 48 near the foot of Main Street before it was widened and lengthened in 1935-36.  That’s my meager evidence.

Embracing the 1934 date may help explain why Elliott Bay is stirred here by but two spiffy white naval vessels, far left, and what I propose is the then nearly-new stern-wheeler Skagit Chief heading north, just above the scene’s center.  Perhaps this is a moment in the International Longshoremen’s Association coast-wide eighty-three day long Waterfront Strike that summer.  The strike inspired The Times to make this satiric account of its effects in the issue for July 8, 1934.

“Seattle exports of wheat, flour, salmon and lumber, produced by industries which give employment to many thousands in the Northwest, reached the same level in June they were when Capt. George Vancouver and his little band of explorers arrived on Puget Sound and began selecting names for mountains, bays and rivers.  They were nil . . . Twenty-five deep-sea vessels with a total net tonnage of 90,007 arrived in Seattle in June compared with 150 deep-sea vessels with a total net tonnage of 503,537 for the same month last year.”

For comparison, here a circa 1969 snap of Seattle's skyline across Elliott Bay, representative of the few months when the SeaFirst Bank Buildings black box stood up on its own.  Either Bob Bradley or Lawton Gowey took this.  Some of there slides got mixed - before they got to me, honest.
For comparison, here is a circa 1969 snap of Seattle’s skyline across Elliott Bay, representative of the few months when the SeaFirst Bank Building’s black box stood on its own. Either Bob Bradley or Lawton Gowey took this. Some of thier slides got mixed – before they got to me, honest.  [double click to enlarge – although the original is somewhat soft.]
Both the Federal Office Building and the Bank of California are underway although ultimately not a high a way at that set by the big black box in 1967-9.  The likely date is 1971/72.
Both the Federal Office Building and the Bank of California are underway although ultimately not as lofty a way as that set by the black box in 1967-9. The likely date is 1972.

Seattle Times veteran photograph Roy Scully took this aerial of the skyline in 1977 to show it additions since the SeaFirst Tower began making an impression.  Roy did a lot of the photography for Pacific Magazine in my early years of freelancing with "now and then."  Roy was known to us all as a real mensch.
Seattle Times veteran photograph Roy Scully took this aerial of the skyline in 1977 to show the additions made since the SeaFirst Tower began making an impression. Roy did a lot of the photography for Pacific Magazine in my early years of freelancing with “now and then.” Roy was known to all as a real mensch.  [click twice to enlarge]
Photographed from a ferry - perhaps by me or Lawton - on Feb. 28, 1984.  The Columbia Tower is underway - and not yet gone away.  The name, that is.  The Smith Tower, far right, is flying Ivar's Salmon Sock.  Ivar has a year to live and soon he will sell the tower, carrying a one million dollar check in his pocket - first payment - to show off.  It was almost as thrilling as opening his monthly social security check.
Photographed from a ferry – perhaps by me or more likely by Lawton – on Feb. 28, 1984. The Columbia Tower is underway – and not yet gone away. The name, that is. The Smith Tower, far right, is flying Ivar’s Salmon Sock. [CLICK TWICE] At the time this photo was recorded Ivar had a year to live and would soon sell the tower, carrying for show a one million dollar check in his pocket – first payment. Sharing the $$$million – to hold for the moment – was almost as thrilling as opening his monthly social security check.

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4,-Admiral-Way-Totem-Part-WEB

 

The Admiral Way totem on Oct. 13, 1960, and freshly painted, it seems. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
The Admiral Way totem on Oct. 13, 1960, and freshly painted, it seems. (Photo by Lawton Gowey)
The Admiral Way Totem ca. 1960.  Since 1939 the popular West Seattle prospect of Elliott Bay at Belvedere Viewpoint has been marked by its own Totem Pole—or two of them. The current and slightly broader pole replaced the rotting original in 1966. Now it, too, is scheduled for replacement.
The Admiral Way Totem ca. 1960. Since 1939 this popular West Seattle prospect of Elliott Bay has been marked by its own Totem Pole—or two of them. The current and slightly broader pole replaced the rotting original in 1966. Now it, too, is scheduled for replacement.

4. Totem-Admiral-Way-c03WEB

Bella Coola Pole at Belvedere Viewpoint

Like the “Seattle Totem” at Pioneer Square, the West Seattle totem that overlooks Elliott Bay from the top of Admiral Way is a copy of the pole that was first placed there. (Since this writing, the pole has been replaced again, although we have as yet no “now” photo for the pole now standing.) The two poles, however, were both carved and”shipped” with different motives.

The "Stolen Totem" at its 1899 Pioneer Place dedication.  A. Wilse took the photo, and the Seattle Good Willl Committee while on its cruise to and back from Alaska during the gold rush, took the totem pole off of Tongass Island.
The “Stolen Totem” at its 1899 Pioneer Place dedication. A.Wilse took the photo, and the Seattle Good Will Committee while on its cruise to Alaska during the gold rush, took the totem pole off of Tongass Island on its return to Seattle.

 

The older and taller pole (by twice) at Pioneer Square was cut in two and “lifted” in 1899 from Tongass Island by a “goodwill committee” of local dignitaries while they were on a kind of giddy celebratory cruise of southeast Alaska during the Gold Rush. Two years later, in 1901, on the coast of British Columbia the smaller 25-foot high pole, shown here in the ca. 1958 view at Belvedere Viewpoint, was built by Bella Coola Indians to be sold, not stolen. Consequently, according to James M. Rupp in his book “Art in Seattle’s Public Places,” the West Seattle pole with its stacked figures—from the top a beaver, frog, whale and bear – does not tell an ancestral story.

Standley with other Totems.  He had many.
“Daddy” Standley with other Totems. He had many.
Standley's Ye Olde Curiosity Shop when it was lodged at Colman Dock.
Standley’s Ye Olde Curiosity Shop when it was lodged at Colman Dock.
The curiosities keep on coming - now on Ivar's Pier 54.
The curiosities keep on coming – now on Ivar’s Pier 54.

 

To continue the comparison between the two poles, in 1939 when “Daddy” Standley, West Seattle resident and owner of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, gave the original Bella Coola pole to the city, the replacement pole at Pioneer Square was being prepared for installation. The original was both rotting and torched by an arsonist in 1938. By the mid-1960s the Bella Coola pole at Belvedere View Point was only rotting, but it was replaced by a near duplicate in 1966 carved for free by Michael Morgan and Robert Fleishman, two Boeing engineers.

Celebrated photographer Mary Randlett's portrait of historian Murray Morgan (author of Skid Road and other classics) posing with two other Pioneer Place (or Square) totems.
Celebrated photographer Mary Randlett’s portrait of historian Murray Morgan (author of Skid Road and other classics) standing with two other Pioneer Place (or Square) totems.

 

Now this cedar pole is being eaten at its center by carpenter ants. The Seattle Parks and Recreation Department holds funds for its replacement, although it has yet to be determined who will carve it or whether the new pole will be a copy of its two predecessors or of a different design. The pole it will replace – the one showing here in the “now” view – will most likely get a second and more protected life at West Seattle’s Log House Museum.

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Joseph “Daddy” Standley built this charming Japanese teahouse for his daughter Ruby in the back yard of Totem Place, the family’s West Seattle home.  The posing children are not identified – a “history’s mystery.”
Joseph “Daddy” Standley built this charming Japanese teahouse for his daughter Ruby in the back yard of Totem Place, the family’s West Seattle home. The posing children are not identified – a “history’s mystery.”
The “now” backyard prospect at Totem Place required a slight move up the bank from the historical photographer Otto T Frasch’s position.
The “now” backyard prospect at Totem Place required a slight move up the bank from the historical photographer Otto T Frasch’s position.  An old friend, on the right, led me there.

 

THE RUBYDEAUX

(Fall of 2006)

 

           One of the great “originals” in the history of this city was Joseph “Daddy” Standley, the founder in 1899 of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the Seattle Waterfront.   Beginning in 1906 the curio collector became a West Seattle commuter, taking the ferry from the foot of Marion Street to its West Seattle dock on Harbor Avenue and from there the trolley directly up Ferry Avenue to the then new family home overlooking Elliott Bay at 1750 Palm Avenue.  It was a quick commute.

           “Daddy” Standley called the new home Totem Place and soon appointed the grounds with a great variety of artifacts, including 12 totems, mixed in an exotic landscape of fruit trees and berries of many sorts.  Two other charmed parts of this Northwest Eden were a miniature log cabin chinked with moss and this teahouse made exactingly authentic with bamboo imported from Japan.

           The teahouse was built for Ruby, the collector’s teenage daughter, and it was playfully named for her “The Rubydeaux.”   (The rustic identifying sign can be seen hanging from the roof, left of center.)   In the mid-1930’s the Rubydeaux was “inherited” by Standley’s namesake grandson, Ruby’s boy Joseph.  Today Joe James recalls how the teahouse was “converted into a kind of den for me with a cowboy and Indians theme.  They redid it in white pine and I had the cutest little iron stove in there.”

           Joe’s play, however, was soon cut short when his mother contracted tuberculosis.  Rather than being committed into the local sanitarium at Firlands the family returned Ruby to her Rubydeaux.  She was kept in isolation, as was then the practice, and her meals were left at the door.   After only three years of this regime Ruby was cured.  Joe recalls, “Following that she kept her attachment to the little house and pretty much stayed out there.  She enjoyed the fresh air.”

           After “Daddy” Standley’s death in 1940 Totem Place was sold, and the teahouse survived for a few years more.  Recently, Totem Place was again charmed when Erik and Katie Wallen purchased the old Standley home.  Erik’s mother, Anne Barnes, was for twenty-five years a favorite employee at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, and the shop’s recent publication “A Curious Alphabet, Amazing Oddities from A to Z!” is dedicated to her.

One more of "Daddy Standley."  This photographed by Arthur Lingenbrinck, who visited the purveyor with his friend, on the right.  Art did not tell me her name.
One more of “Daddy Standley.” This photographed by Arthur Lingenbrinck, who visited the purveyor with his friend, on the right. Art did not tell me her name.

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The below appeared recently in Pacific. Sometime after the Alki Playfield Softball for 2012.

6. Schmitz-PARK-Arch-mr-THEN-WEB

THEN CAPTION:  The Schmitz Park arch straddled 59th Avenue Southwest facing Alki Beach from 1913 to 1953. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)  NOW CAPTION: Players in the annual “Old Ball Game” at Alki Field break from the diamond to pose for Jean Sherrard at the corner now nearly 60 years without its rustic arch.  (By Jean Sherrard)

6. Schmitz-Park-ARCH-NOW-WEB

 

SCHMITZ PARK ARCH

 

           In a Seattle Times Classified Ad for August 1913, C.W. Latham, a dealer of West Seattle real estate, asks “Don’t you think it is a good time to come over and select that home site by the seaside?”  Latham’s list of reasons for moving to Alki was its new “$200,000 bathing beach, $60,000 lighthouse, and $75,000 new school.”  And it was easy to reach the beach. Direct 5-cent trolley service from Seattle began in 1908.  The dealer gave no address for his office.  His instruction that it was “near the Schmitz Park Arch” was good enough.

 

           The arch may have been better named the Schmitz Boulevard Arch for it was not in the park but rather faced the beach.  In 1908, one year after West Seattle was incorporated into Seattle, the 2,700 foot long boulevard was graded to the park proper, which was then first described as a 40 acre “cathedral” of old growth forest.  In 1908 the German immigrant-philanthropists Emma and Henry Schmitz donated both the park and the boulevard to the city.

 

           A stripped log spans the arch’s columns made rustic with a facing of river rocks.  The construction is here still a work in progress, for the two additional posts to the sides have not yet been topped with their keg-sized stone flowerpots.  The new Alki School, seen here far left across Alki Field, is partially hidden behind one of these incomplete shorter columns.  The school’s primary classes opened in 1913, also the likely year for this pubic works photograph, which we first discovered in “West Side Story,” the 1987 history of West Seattle edited by author Clay Eals.

 

         Clay, by now an old friend, along with David Eskenazi, Seattle’s baseball historian, lured Jean Sherrard and I to their annual summer softball game at Alki Field.  Jean and I, in turn, lured their players off the baseball field and onto 59th Avenue West.  Jean explains.

 

         “Herding the two dozen or so cool cats that comprised Clay and David’s annual baseball game/gathering was an amiable chore. We ambled from the diamond to 59th and SW Lander during the seventh-inning stretch, following rousing choruses of “Take me out to the ballgame,” the National Anthem and unanimous sighs of regret at Ichiro’s loss. On this glorious July day, the amenable players, on command and between passing cars, spread themselves across the avenue with one caveat from the photographer: ‘If you can’t see me, I can’t see you’.”  Both David and Clay can be seen.

Later
Later

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