(click to enlarge photos)
Through the late 1880s this east side of First Avenue – its was still called Front Street then — was distinguished by George Frye’s Opera House (1884-85). This grand pioneer landmark filled the southern half of the block until June 6, 1889, when Seattle’s Great Fire reduced it to ashes. While these were still cooling, Frye hired John Nestor, an Irish-born architect who had designed his Opera House, to prepare drawings for the Stevens Hotel, which we see here also at the south end of the block, which is the northeast corner of First Avenue and Marion Street.
Next door to the north, the Palace Hotel, with 125 guest rooms, opened on the Fourteenth of April, 1903. The owners announced that it was “Artistically decorated and comfortably furnished, and equipped with every modern convenience.” They listed “elevators, electric lights, call bells and rooms with baths.” The owners boasted that their hotel had the “finest commercial sample rooms in the city, which makes it an ideal hotel for commercial travelers.” In the spring of 1905, the most northerly of the hotel’s three storefronts was taken by Burt and Packard’s “Korrect Shape” shoe store. For $3.50 one could purchase a pair of what the partnering cobblers advertised as “the only patent leather shoe that’s warranted.” Also that year, the New German Bakery moved in next door beneath the Star Theatre, which had recently changed its name from Alcazar to Star.
On February 21, 1905, The Seattle Times printed “Vaudeville at the Star,” a wonderfully revealing review of the Star’s opening. “Vaudeville as given at the 10-cent theatre may not be high art, but it is certainly popular art . . . The performance started exactly at the appointed time, but long before that a squad of policeman had to make passage ways through the crowd of people on Madison Street.”
The hour-and-a-half performance consisted of nine acts, and The Times named them all. “Claude Rampf led off with some juggling on the slack wire. Richard Burton followed with illustrated songs. Third came the Margesons in a comedy sketch, a little boy proving a clever dancer. Fourth were the dwarfs, Washer Brothers, who boxed four rounds. They were followed by Daisy Vernon, who sang in Japanese costume, followed by Handsen and Draw, a comedy sketch team, followed by Wilson and Wilson, consisting of a baritone singer and a negro comedian, and then by the lead liner, Mme Ziska, the fire dancer. The performance concluded with several sets of moving pictures.”
Until it went dark in 1967, the venue at the southeast corner of First and Madison had many names. In addition to the Alcazar and the Star, it had been called the State Ritz, the Gaiety, the Oak, the State, the Olympic, the Tivoli, and in its last incarnation as a home for burlesque and sometimes experimental films, the Rivoli.
Anything to add, Paul? Yup and again with help from Ron Edge who has attached the links below for readers’ ready clicking. The four chosen are, for the most part, from the neighborhood. Following those we will put up three or four other relevant features and conclude with a small array of other state landmarks or “icons” (and how I dislike using that by now tired term, but I’m in a hurry) including James Stevens, the wit who revived and put to good order the Paul Bunyan tales. We like him so much, we have put Stevens next above, on top of Ron’s links.
We might have begun this little photo essay with a portrait of the namesake, Washington Territory’s first governor, Isaac Stevens, but chose instead a landmark on Stevens Pass (named for the Gov), the Wayside Chapel. Lawton Gowey, again, took this slide. We do not know if the chapel has survived the wages of sin and elements.
ABOVE, Pickett’s record of the Stevens Pass summit with Cowboy Mountain on the horizon, and BELOW, Jean Sherrard’s repeat, which appeared first in our book WASHINGTON THEN AND NOW.
ABOVE and BELOW: Stevens School in Wenatchee. In the “now” the school has been replaced by a federal building. (This too appears in WASHINGTON THEN and NOW)
On Alki Point, we’ve been told, across Stevens Street from what is now the Log Cabin Museum, a fitted tent for summer recreations at the beach, and now a street of modest homes.