Seattle Now & Then: The Boone Home

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Sometime around 1890, George Moore, one of Seattle’s most prolific early photographers, recorded this portrait of the home of the architect (and Daniel Boone descendent) William E. Boone.  In the recently published second edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture, the book’s editor, UW Professor of Architecture Jeffry Karl Ochsner, sketches William E. Boone’s life and career.  Ochsner adds, “Boone was virtually the only pre-1889 Fire Seattle architect who continued to practice at a significant level through the 1890s and into the twentieth-century.”   (Courtesy MOHAI)
THEN: Sometime around 1890, George Moore, one of Seattle’s most prolific early photographers, recorded this portrait of the home of the architect (and Daniel Boone descendent) William E. Boone. In the recently published second edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture, the book’s editor, UW Professor of Architecture Jeffry Karl Ochsner, sketches William E. Boone’s life and career. Ochsner adds, “Boone was virtually the only pre-1889 Fire Seattle architect who continued to practice at a significant level through the 1890s and into the twentieth-century.” (Courtesy MOHAI)
NOW: During its construction of Interstate-5, the state’s Department of Highways set free the springs of First Hill, a fluid dynamics that required more pumping, concrete and time than expected.
NOW: During its construction of Interstate-5, the state’s Department of Highways set free the springs of First Hill, a fluid dynamics that required more pumping, concrete and time than expected.

For Jean Sherrard to record his repeat of George Moore’s historical portrait of Mercy and William Boone’s big home required both prudence and pluck.  The latter took Jean to the edge of the concrete retaining wall that rises at least forty feet above the north-bound lanes of the Interstate Five Freeway.  But it was prudence that kept him from leaning over the edge to reach closer to the prospect that George Moore took in the early 1890s.  Both the home site and Moore’s position on Alder are now up in the air.

The Boone home is found in this early-1890s Sanborn map
The Boone home is found in this early-1890s Sanborn map at the center, to the right of the block number 325, and the footprint for the King Country Court House is across Seventh Avenue in block 326.   (Courtesy MOHAI)  [To read the map – try CLICKING it. ]

The Boone home was constructed at the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Alder Street in 1885.  Boone was almost certainly the architect.  During the summer of 1886, The Post-Intelligencer reports in its popular “Brevities” section that the fifty-four year old architect, “while working on his residence yesterday, fell from a ladder and sustained severe bruises about the legs.  His injuries are not considered serious.”

The Boone home appears i this ca.1890 look east from the King Street Wharf to the First Hill horizon and the Construction there of the King County Court House.  The big home is in the half hidden in trees and its own dark covering at the lower-right (northwest) corner of the Court House.  The dark spreader leaning left from the mist on the right points directly at and on the Boone home.  The Terrace streets steps to the Court House seem to emerge from the smoke stack at the subject's center.
The Boone home appears in this ca.1890 detail, which looks east from the King Street Wharf to the First Hill horizon and the Construction there of the King County Court House. The big home is half hidden in the trees and its own dark covering at the lower-right (northwest) corner of the Court House. The dark spreader leaning left from the mast on the right points directly at and even on the Boone home. The Terrace streets steps to the Court House seem to emerge from the smoke stack at the subject’s center.  It was climbing those that in part inspired one of the most popular names for the first hill east of pioneer Seattle: Profanity Hill.
Another and only somewhat later of the Court House also from the King Street Wharf.  Here are the wide but long wooden steps up Terrace Street, on the left, another mast (but no pointing spreader) and the Boone home, also half-hidden in the landscape.
Another and only somewhat later detail of the Court House also from the King Street Wharf. Here too  are the wide but long wooden steps up Terrace Street, on the left, another mast (but no pointing spreader) and the Boone home, also half-hidden in the landscape.

Without committing itself to “First Hill,” the name with which we are accustomed, the January 29, 1886, issue of The Post-Intelligencer referred to the Boone residence as one of the “new buildings on the hill top.”  Well into the 1890s the more popular name for this most forward edge of the first hill behind the waterfront was Yesler Hill.  A name used in honor of Seattle’s pioneer industrialist – and employer – Henry Yesler.  From the time he built his first steam saw mill in 1852-3, it was assumed that he would eventually clear the hill of its timber.

King County Courthouse look northeast from the corner of Seventh Ave. and Alder Street.   The Boone home is out-of-frame to the left.
King County Courthouse look northeast from the corner of Seventh Ave. and Alder Street. The Boone home is out-of-frame to the left.

Sometime after the 1890-91 construction of the King County Courthouse, across 7th Avenue from the Boone home, a more playful place name, Profanity Hill, was inspired by the language used by lawyers and litigants who climbed the hill to deny and confess in the halls and chambers of the Courthouse.

The Yesler-Leary building design by Boone when he was new to Seattle.
The Yesler-Leary building designed by Boone when he was new to Seattle.
The Toklas and Singerman Department store at the southwest corner of Front Street (First Ave.) and Columbia Street, destroyed by the 1889 fire.
The Toklas and Singerman Department store at the southwest corner of Front Street (First Ave.) and Columbia Street, destroyed by the 1889 fire.
Henry and Sara Yesler's new mansion was one of the first of Boone's designs on settling in Seattle.  This view looks at it southeast across James Street (and its cable car tracks), and includes the new (in 1891) King County Court House on the  horizon.
Henry and Sara Yesler’s new mansion was one of the first of Boone’s designs on settling in Seattle. This view looks at it southeast across James Street (and its cable car tracks), and includes the new (in 1891) King County Court House on the horizon.   The Boone home is also on the First Hill horizon in the trees to the right of the Court House.  (Courtesy, MOHAI)

Married in California in 1871, William, a Pennsylvanian, and Mercie, originally from New York, came to Seattle for good in 1882.  That year he designed the landmark Yesler-Leary Building in Pioneer Square.  Like the Toklas and Singerman Department Store (Boone’s design from 1887), it did not survive the city’s Great Fire of 1889.  The mansion by Boone and partner then, the Californian George C. Meeker, was designed for Henry and Sara Yesler in the mid-80s just survived the greater fire ’89, but not its own on the morning of New Year’s Day, 1901.  A few of Boone’s landmarks that are still remembered, but lost, are Central School, Broadway High School, and the New York Block.

Central School, designed by Boone, seen looking southeast across the intersection of 6th Avenue and Madison Street.
Central School, designed by Boone, seen looking southeast across Madison Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  Note the Madison Street cable car tracks.
Broadway High School looking northwest over the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Pine Street, from the Odd Fellows Hall.
Broadway High School looking northwest over the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Pine Street, from the Odd Fellows Hall.
Boone's New York Block during its destruction, Nov. 15, 1923.
Boone’s New York Block during its destruction, Nov. 15, 1923.

William died in 1921 one year before his New York Block was razed for another and greater of the terra-cotta buildings that were then favored for the business district.  Mercie died in 1923. They were both ninety-one years old.  Although without children, Mercie was a leader in local charities, including the Seattle Children’s Home, whose first quarters her husband designed.

[We’ll add pictures of the first and second quarters for the Children’s Home.   Most likely it it the first of these that Boone designed – and  yet perhaps both.    The first was built on property at the southwest corner of Harrison and 4th Ave. N., that was given and chosen by David and Louisa Denny from their donation claim.  It is now part of Seattle Center.  The second and grander home is on Queen Anne Hill property that is still home for the charity, although now in a newer plant.   I worked there in 1966 as a house parent – the most demanding job I ever had.  It soon turned me to painting canvases – and  houses. ]

Seattle Childrens Home at 4th North and Harrison Street.
Seattle Children’s Home at 4th North and Harrison Street.
Seattle Children's Home on Queen Anne Hill.
Seattle Children’s Home on Queen Anne Hill.

WEB EXTRAS

Just paused for a bite in the I.D. and looked down King Street at our very own not-so-leaning tower with the Olympics looming behind.

And the spring rolls weren't bad either....
And the spring rolls weren’t bad either….

I had to include a detail from the clock tower – note the support struts in the windows below (for an interior, flip down through this post from the past).

Clock tower close-up
Clock tower close-up

Anything to add, lads?  Sure Jean but first such a luxurious recording or our tower.  It takes more than the right gear, light, atmosphere and mobility to record such a shot, it also requires meditation on that golden bar that mysteriously (we agreed) cuts through the tower and illuminates it’s golden clockworks, and so reminds us – some of us – that time is precious and we had better leave this scene and get with it.  Here at my desk I have a bowl of Narcissus Daffodils for sniffing the early Spring – while writing.

Again, here are a few relevant Edge-links (named for Ron Edge who pulled and grouped them).  Open these links and you will surely find other features with their own lists of relevant links and those links with theirs.   The lead photo for the top link looks from the west side of 7th Avenue (like Boone’s home) north across Jefferson Street, or almost two blocks north of the Boones.    The next link of the Sprague Hotel at Yesler and Spruce is about two blocks south of the Boones.   And, again, so on.

THEN: The Sprague Hotel at 706 Yesler Way was one of many large structures –hotels, apartments and duplexes, built on First Hill to accommodate the housing needs of the city’s manic years of grown between its Great Fire in 1889 and the First World War. Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey

THEN: On his visit to the Smith Tower around 1960, Wade Stevenson recorded the western slope of First Hill showing Harborview Hospital and part of Yesler Terrace at the top between 7th and 9th Avenue but still little development in the two blocks between 7th and 5th Avenues.  Soon the Seattle Freeway would create a concrete ditch between 7th and 6th (the curving Avenue that runs left-to-right through the middle of the subject.)  Much of the wild and spring fed landscape between 6th and 5th near the bottom of the revealing subject was cleared for parking.  (Photo by Wade Stevenson, courtesy of Noel Holley)

THEN: Harborview Hospital takes the horizon in this 1940 recording. That year, a hospital report noted that "the backwash of the depression" had overwhelmed the hospital's outpatient service for "the country's indigents who must return periodically for treatment." Built in 1931 to treat 100 cases a day, in 1939 the hospital "tries bravely to accommodate 700 to 800 visits a day."

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OTHER BOONE DESIGNS

The Marshall-Walker Block (built 1890-91) on the right at the southeast corner of Main Street and First Avenue South.   Long the home of the Elliott Bay Book Store, Allied Arts, and Jim Faber's office.  Jim wrote "The Irreverent Guide to Washington State, although he was himself a saint.
The Marshall-Walker Block (built 1890-91) on the right at the southeast corner of Main Street and First Avenue South. Long the home of the Elliott Bay Book Store, Allied Arts, and Jim Faber’s office. Jim wrote “The Irreverent Guide to Washington State,” although he was himself a saint.
Plymouth Congregational Church, northeast corner of University Street and Second Avenue.   You will find many stories that include it, if you key word them with this blog.
Plymouth Congregational Church, northeast corner of University Street and Second Avenue. You will find many stories that include it, if you key word them with this blog.
The Wa-Chong Building in the old Chinatown at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Washington Street, before the Second Ave. Extension.  Part of the building survives.  Here the Frye Hotel towers above and behind it.
The Wa-Chong Building in the old Chinatown at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Washington Street, before the Second Ave. Extension. Part of the building survives. Here the Frye Hotel towers above and behind it.
The Territorial Insane (they still called them in 1886-7 when it was bu ilt)) Asylum in Steilacoom.
The Territorial Insane (they still called them in 1886-7 when it was bu ilt)) Asylum in Steilacoom.

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BEFORE THE BOONES and AFTER

A panorama of Seattle seen from First Hill and painted in the 1870s.  It hangs in the New  York Public Library - either from the wall or in storage.
A panorama of Seattle seen from First Hill and painted in the 1870s. It hangs in the New York Public Library – either from the wall or in storage.  Church in the shows and near the center of the canvas is the First Baptist Church at the corner of James and 4th Avenue, now site of the Seattle City Hall.  Yes that’s the Olympics and not the Cascades, but how sweet it is to be so surrounded.
The First Hill Horizon in 1881 from Pioneer Place (Square) during the 1881 memorial service for the slain President Garfield.  In the past decade the hill was cleared of its forest and in the following decade it will be filled with homes, like the Boones, and institutions, like the Court House.  (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
The First Hill Horizon in 1881 from Pioneer Place (Square) during the 1881 memorial service for the slain President Garfield. In the past decade the hill was cleared of its forest and in the following decade it was filled with homes, like the Boones, and institutions, like the Court House. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
The encroaching 1-5 Freeway, upper-left, and Yesler Terrace Housing, upper right.   The corner of Yesler Way and 7th Avenue is bottom-right with the old City Light transfer station to the west (left) of it.
The encroaching 1-5 Freeway, upper-left, and Yesler Terrace Housing, upper right. The corner of Yesler Way and 7th Avenue is bottom-right with the old City Light transfer station to the west (left) of it.
Freeway Construction showing the construction of the retaining wall below what was 7th Avenue.
Freeway Construction showing the construction of the retaining wall below what was 7th Avenue.
Freeway construction, recorded by Frank Shaw on April 16, 1964.
Freeway construction, recorded by Frank Shaw on April 16, 1964.   Shaw looks south thru – or nearly thru – the former site of the Boone home at the northwest corner of Alder and Seventh.

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Now up the stairs to Nighty-bears – leaving proof-reading until tomorrow.  It’s nearly 3am.

Daffodiles and dessert, formerly on Julie Pashkiss' kitchen table.
Daffodils and dessert recently on artist Julie Paschkis’s’ kitchen table.   And those napkins are also of her design.

 

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