(click to enlarge photos)
Drivers and riders who continue to be confused and/or delayed by the city’s “Mercer Mess” south of Lake Union may find some consolation by reflecting on the Central Business District’s public works schedule a century ago. This look north from Columbia Street, mid-block between Third and Fourth Avenues, is dated April 15, 1907. At the far left, Third Avenue, at its intersection with Marion Street, has been cut (lowered) about fifteen feet. All traffic on Third, Columbia, and Marion has, of course, been cut off as well.
Still, pedestrians could transcend the upheaval on Third by crossing the temporary, if spindly, viaduct, left-of-center. It passes high above the mess to reach a pre-regrade sidewalk that survives below the south façade of the Second Empire-styled Stacy Mansion, with both tower and roof-top pergola. This grand residence was, however,
hardly a home. It was built in 1885 by Elizabeth and Martin Van Buren Stacy, an often-warring couple who did not move in until 1887. Following the migration up First Hill of Seattle’s most affluent families, the land-rich Stacys soon built another mansion at the northeast corner of Madison Street and Boren Avenue. Martin, however, hardly moved. Preferring the acquisitive culture of the business district to the high society on the Hill, he lived mostly in hotels and clubs.
The Stacy mansion, sitting at the center of the featured photograph, at the top, might be considered the intended subject. It is not. Rather, it’s the private work of cutting and hauling for the Trustee Company’s Central Building excavation site. In the pit a steam shovel feeds a circle of horse teams waiting their turns and pulling high-centered dump-wagons. Far right, in the alley, the company’s sign stands above its construction office.
A half year earlier in The Seattle Sunday Times of October 7, 1906, the Trustee Company shared its intentions with a full-page advertisement. The Central Building promised to be “the most impressive and commodious office building in the Pacific Northwest. Including the offices in the tower section, this building is to be twenty stories in height.”
With its tower centered high above Third Avenue, hand-colored postcards of the completed Central Building are still common and can be readily acquired, often cheaply, in stores selling historical ephemera. Parts of the Central’s first four floors show to the left of the alley in Jean Sherrard’s repeat at the top. The completed Central continues with four stories more to its full height of eight floors, and not twenty. While not so grand as the Trustee Company had planned, the Central is still a cherished survivor of what through the first third of the twentieth century was Seattle’s affection for elegantly clad terra-cotta buildings.
Anything to add, Paul? Ron? Jean? Well . . . Ron Edge has put up five apts links directly below. There is lots more on the neighborhood, some of it seen from the waterfront. For instance, the first link below looks south on Third Avenue from near Spring Street and so through Madison Street and beyond to the Marion Street intersection, where right-of-center the Gothic Revival First Methodist Church stands with its spire at what would soon be the northwest corner of the Central Building at the southeast corner of Marion and Third. But now we confess that we are almost broken down. This computer or the program for running the blog is gummed. We will return tomorrow to find, we hope, that it has recovered some speed. Meanwhile please explore the links below.