(click to enlarge photos)
With this week’s “Now and Then” Jean and I have conspired, perhaps, to confuse you, although not for long. On first glimpse it is evident that in the 76 years that separate our “then” from our “now,” their shared subject, an adobe hut at the corner of Main Street and the Second Ave. S. Extension, has endured. However, on second glimpse, it is also certain that the hut’s milieu has pivoted. We explain.
In 1928 the long, wide, and straight path of Seattle’s Second Avenue, between Stewart Street and Yesler Way, was cut through to Jackson Street as the Second Ave. S. Extension. Thereby, it was explained, “Seattle’s Market Street” (a little used nickname) might make a grand beeline to the railroad stations on the south side of Jackson. Of the fifteen buildings sliced into along the new route, three were entirely destroyed, including a fire station with tower that sat at the northwest corner of Main Street and Third Avenue. (Station No. 10’s own feature is attached below.) The Extension ran right through that station’s former location, except for its northeast and southwest corners, which became small triangular lots on either side of the Extension. (Here you may wish to find a map. There’s a good one on the blog listed at the bottom. We’ll make it easier and put both a detail below from the 1912 Baist Map and another from the sky: a detail of the corner and more in Seattle’s city-wide 1936 aerial.)
In our “then,” the Fiesta Coffee Shop stands on the triangle on the east side of Second. The buildings behind it are on Third Avenue. In our “now,” however, the adobe hut survives on the Extension’s west side as the Main Street Gyro, and the structures that surround it are mostly on Second Avenue and Main Street. To record his “repeat,” Jean stood just off the curb on Main.
Sometime during the warmer months of 1938, the small café was moved across the Second Ave. S. Extension as Betty’s Coffee Shop, in a trade of triangles between Harry Schneiderman and Betty. The small service station Schneiderman had built on the west triangle, he rebuilt on the east side as a modern Signal station with four pumps and two bays for repairs. Under his name, which he signed below the station’s roofline, the one time center for the UW football team added, “I Ain’t Mad at Nobody.”
With the help of Bob Masin, the hut’s owner since 1980, we have figured that since the small café’s 1938 move across the Extension, it has had six names with six cuisines. It began in 1938 as Betty’s Coffee Shop and continued so into the 1970s. Masin remembers sitting as a child with his father and grandfather at the small counter watching Betty, always in her apron, serve the policemen standing in the aisle drinking coffee. Following Betty’s came the Greek Villa, the Masada Café, the Penguin Café, the Main Street Teriyaki, and presently the Main Street Gyro.
Returning now to the hut’s origins, the earliest tax photo (above) from 1937 shows it as a log cabin for the short-lived sale of New England Baked Beans and Brown Bread, and the tax card accompanying the photo has it built in 1934. And so we may confidently make note that without leaving the corner, the café’s earliest move was from Massachusetts to Mexico when the logs were covered with adobe and the roof with red tiles for the also short-lived Fiesta Coffee-Shop.
Additions galore this week, lads? Jean, Ron has put up a healthy seven links, and the first one looks north and directly through the new intersection of Third Ave. S., the Second Ave. Extension and Main Street. Look close and you will find the Fiesta in the “east triangle” before it was moved to the other (west) side of the Second Ave. Extension. [If this triangle business is not clear by now, I’m wringing my hands!] The links will be followed by three or four other features that are not so recent as The Seven Below, but still are either of the neighborhood or one of the this feature’s subjects that being fast food, and want of food fast.
A FIVE BALL CLUSTER at THIRD AVE. S. AND MAIN STREET, CA. 1911
FIREHOUSE NO. 10
EAST ON MAIN FROM FIRST AVENUE