Most likely the first “now and then” treatment this charming pioneer home received was in these pages seventy years ago on Sunday, November 10, 1944. The author, Margaret Pitcairn Strachan, chose the Charles and Mary Terry home as the fifteenth weekly subject of her yearlong series on “Early Day Mansions.” Strachan’s fifty-two well-packed and illustrated essays must be counted as one our richest resources for understanding Seattle’s history. In 1944 many of the mansions built by the community’s nabobs were still standing, and sometimes the original families were still living in them and willing to talk with the reporter. (We will attach the Strachan feature below. Click TWICE to enlarge for reading.)
In the Strachan feature the Terry home faced Third Avenue near its northeast corner with James Street. We can learn something about the family’s history – especially about Charles – from the journalist’s reveries that came upon her as she stepped into the “now” after opening the door to a café near the northeast corner of Third Avenue and James Street. She writes, “The Columbian Café is probably the place which is on the exact spot where the house stood. Sitting at the maroon-colored counter, facing the huge mirror which runs the length of the room and reflects the booths in the background, I listened to the clatter coming from the kitchen and watched the waitresses in their spotless white dresses, as they hurried back and forth over the red tile floor, serving busy Seattle citizens who were unaware that this spot was once the home of the man who named Alki Point, owned its first store, was the instigator of the University of Washington, foresaw a great future for this ‘town of Seattle’ and drafted its first ordinances.” (Next, we have attached an earlier photo of the Terry home before it was pivoted off of Third Avenue to face James Street. Below the home we have added a snap of the 3rd Avenue front door to the Public Safety Building, and below that two photo that include the Columbian Cafe that Strachan visited for her research and/or edification or nutrition. The two cafe photos are public works subjects and have their own captions with dates.)
By purchases and trades with pioneers Carson Boren and Doc David Maynard, the Terrys owned most of the business district and were the wealthiest couple in town. On the sweet side of their pioneer life, they opened Seattle’s first bakery in 1864, the year they also built this jolly home, the “ornament of the town.” In 1867 the couple ran a large advertisement in the Pacific Coast Directory, which read, in part, “C. C. TERRY, Seattle, W.T. wholesale and retail dealer in Groceries, Provisions, Cigars, etc., manufacturer of crackers and cakes of all kinds. Unlimited supply of Ship Bread constantly on hand at San Francisco prices.” Tragically, Charles died of tuberculosis, a mere thirty-nine years old, in 1867. On the day of his death his third daughter was born.
Sometime between the 1878 birdseye view drawing of Seattle and the 1883 Sanborn real estate map, the Terry home was pivoted 90-degrees counter-clockwise to face James Street. At the same time the house was moved one lot east of its corner with Second Avenue, which is where we see it in the featured photo at the top. The home’s second footprint holds on in the 1904 Sanborn but not in 1908. It was demolished in 1907.
Anything to add, boys? Ron Edge begins by putting down a few links – often to the neighborhood. We’ll conclude with the oft-used couples portrait of Charles and Mary, and another full-page feature on their home by Lucille McDonald, once-upon-a-time, The Seattle Times principle reporter on regional heritage. Finally we will drop in a hide-and-seek in which the reader is encouraged to find the Terry home.