Seattle Now & Then: Poetry and Prose at 1st and Madison

(click to enlarge photos) 

THEN: Looking south on First Avenue from its northwest corner with Madison Street, circa 1905.  (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
THEN: Looking south on First Avenue from its northwest corner with Madison Street, circa 1905. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The entire block bordered by First and Second Avenues and Marion and Madison Streets was cleared in the late 1960s for the construction of architect Fred Bassetti’s Henry M. Jackson Federal Office Building, which opened in 1974.
NOW: The entire block bordered by First and Second Avenues and Marion and Madison Streets was cleared in the late 1960s for the construction of architect Fred Bassetti’s Henry M. Jackson Federal Office Building, which opened in 1974.

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.

Frye's Opera House is about to be engulfed by the Great First of June 6, 1889 in this look south on First Ave. (then still Front Street) from Spring Street.  The opera house, the tallest building on Front,  is left-of-center.
Frye’s Opera House is about to be engulfed by the Great First of June 6, 1889 in this look south on First Ave. (then still Front Street) from Spring Street. The opera house, the tallest building on First/Front, is left-of-center.
The Northern Pacific Railroad's official photographer, F. Jay Haynes, most likely 1890 visit to Seattle.  Hayes climbed to the trestle built across Railroad Ave. to carry to coal to the waterfront bunkers build where Ivar's Pier 3 now stands on new steel pilings.
The above was most likely recorded during the Northern Pacific Railroad’s official photographer, F. Jay Haynes, 1890 visit to Seattle. Hayes climbed to the trestle built across Railroad Ave. to carry coal to the waterfront bunkers built where Ivar’s Pier 3 now stands on its brand new steel pilings.  Center-right in the block below the temporary tents, vestiges of the commercial needs following the fire of 1889, a single story structure at the southeast corner of First and Madison will be short-lived.  The changes made there for a long life of stage performances required much higher ceilings and added floors for the show girls to robe to disrobe.  Central School on the south side of Madison between Sixth and Seventh Avenues tops the horizon at the center.
With the Burke Building behind it at Second and Marion, the Stevens Hotel fills half of the block on First Ave., between Marion and Madison, far-left.
With the Burke Building behind it at Second and Marion, the Stevens Hotel fills half of the block on First Ave., between Marion and Madison, far-left.
Like the Wesbster and Stevens studio subject above it, Lawton Gowey's record looks thru the intersection of First and Marion and the ruins of both the Stevens Hotel and the Burke Building.  Less than ten years old, the SeaFirst tower
Like the Wesbster and Stevens studio subject above it, Lawton Gowey’s record looks thru the intersection of First and Marion and the ruins of both the Stevens Hotel and the Burke Building. Less than ten years old, the SeaFirst tower ascends above the Empire Building with its rooftop Olympic National Life neon sign.   The Empire/Olympic later provided Seattle’s first great thrill of implosion.

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.

Early construction on the Henry Jackson "Federal" Building that replaced everything on the block except for a few ornaments saved from the Burke Building.  The older Federal Building appears here across First Avenue, and sits there still.
Early construction on the Henry Jackson “Federal” Building that replaced everything on the block except for a few ornaments saved from the Burke Building. The older Federal Building appears here across First Avenue, and sits there still.
The Seattle Times Feb. 26, 1905 review of the Star Theatre.
(Above) The Seattle Times Feb. 26, 1905 review of the Star Theatre.

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 Star Theatre with the Palace Hotel beside it.
The Star Theatre with the Palace Hotel beside it.

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.”

Lawton Gowey's recording of the end - and rear end - of the Rivoli, recorded on January 21, 1971.
Lawton Gowey’s recording of the end – and rear end – of the Rivoli, recorded on January 21, 1971.

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.

James Stevens standing by his tales.
James Stevens standing by his tales.

WEB EXTRAS

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.

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Looking north on First thru Madison Street with a cable car intersecting on the right.  Note the sidewalk awning of the German Bakery, far right.  The Globe Building is on the left at the northwest corner.
Looking north on First thru Madison Street with a cable car intersecting on the right. Note the sidewalk awning of the German Bakery, far right. The Globe Building is on the left at the northwest corner.   DOUBLE CLICK the text BELOW
FIRST APPEARED in PACIFIC, JUNE 22, 1986.   CLICK TWICE - PLEASE
FIRST APPEARED in PACIFIC, JUNE 22, 1986.
CLICK TWICE – PLEASE

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Clock on the southwest corner of First Ave. and Madison Street.
Clock on the southwest corner of First Ave. and Madison Street.
First Appeared in PACIFIC , SEPT. 17, 1995.
First Appeared in PACIFIC , SEPT. 17, 1995.
The Globe when nearly new.
The Globe when nearly new.
Lawton Gowey's capture of the Globe on Sept. 16, 2981 preparing for its restoration as a swank hotel.
Lawton Gowey’s capture of the Globe on Sept. 16, 1981 preparing for its restoration as a swank hotel.

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Post Alley, looking north from Marion Street.  The buildings on the right face the west side of First Avenue between Marion and Madison and so look across First Avenue and the featured block.
Post Alley, looking north from Marion Street. The buildings on the right face the west side of First Avenue between Marion and Madison and so look across First Avenue at or into the featured block.
CLICK to ENLARGE.  First appeared in Pacific, December 6, 1987.
CLICK to ENLARGE. First appeared in Pacific, December 6, 1987.
The west side of First Avenue between Madison Street (in the foreground) and Marion.  The dark-brick Rainier-Grand Hotel holds the center of the block.
The west side of First Avenue between Madison Street (in the foreground) and Marion. The dark-brick Rainier-Grand Hotel holds the center of the block.

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OTHER STEVENS

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.

z-Stevens-pass-HS-Wayside-Chapel-WEB

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Z Pickett-Stevens-Pass-GasX--THEN-WEB

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.

z Stevens-Pass-gas-ski-NOW-WEB

Another Stevens Pass ski lodge.   Photo by Ellis
Another Stevens Pass ski lodge. Photo by Ellis

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Z  Lake-Stevens,-maslan-WEB

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z Stevens-School-Wenatchee-THEN-WEB

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)

z Wenathee-Stevens-School-NOW-2-WEB

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Z  Alki-Cabin-Tent-across-Stevens-fm-Museum-WEB

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.

Z  ALKI-sw-Stevens-Alki-Point-ca1999-WEB

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A rail-fan's CASEY  JONES SPECIAL heading east on the future Burke Gilman Recreation trail and over the Stevens Way overpass.   It was under this little bridge that those attending the 1909 Alaksa Yukon Pacific Exposition on the U.W. Campus entered the Pay Streak, the carnival side of the AYP.   Pacific Street runs by here, and it just out frame at the bottom.  Photo - again - by Lawton Gowey.  Lawton was one of the area's most learned Rail Fans.
A rail-fan’s CASEY JONES SPECIAL heading east on the future Burke Gilman Recreation trail and over the Stevens Way overpass. It was under this little bridge that those attending the 1909 Alaksa Yukon Pacific Exposition on the U.W. Campus entered the Pay Streak, the carnival side of the AYP. Pacific Street runs by here  just out frame at the bottom. Photo – again – by Lawton Gowey. Lawton was one of the area’s most learned Rail Fans.

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BY REMINDER

x Stevens-Hotel-WEB

 

 

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Poetry and Prose at 1st and Madison”

  1. The Wayside Chapel in Highway 2 is still standing, and in great condition. That is a staple for anyone heading to or from the pass.

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