Seattle Now & Then: First Hill Row Houses

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: At the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Boren Avenue, two of the more ordinary housing stock on First Hill in the 1890s.  (Courtesy  MOHAI)
THEN: At the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Boren Avenue, two of the more ordinary housing stock on First Hill in the 1890s. (Courtesy MOHAI)
NOW: The parking lot that replaced the razed homes is linked here, in part, with the familiarly-colored red and yellow-orange busses of O’Dea, the high school on the west (out of frame to the left) side of the block.
NOW: The parking lot that replaced the razed homes is linked here, in part, with the familiarly-colored red and yellow-orange busses of O’Dea, the high school on the west (out of frame to the left) side of the block.

When I first saw this pioneer print pulled from its MOHAI files, I recognized none of it and yet sensed all of it.  By the qualities of its housing stock, a hilltop topography that is kind to construction, and the street work, this, I thought, is First Hill.  For judging my hunch, I quickly went to the top of Coppin’s water tower where the photographer Arthur Churchill Warner recorded a few clear impressions of that then adolescent neighborhood in 1890 or 91. Of course, I did not actually climb the tower but rather studied the Warner panorama that looks east northeast from high above the intersection of Terry Avenue and Columbia Street. 

A merging of two of Warren's recordings from the Coppins Water Tower.  The view looks north, with good parts of northwest and northeast to the left and right, respectively.  We used this comparison in our, with Berangere Lomont, Repeat Photography exhibit in MOHAI for their last production in their previous Montlake home.  Jean's repeat is below.
A merging of two of Warner’s photos from the Coppins Water Tower. The view looks north, with good parts of northwest and northeast to the left and right, respectively.  With Beranger Lomont, we used this comparison in our Repeat Photography exhibit in MOHAI for the now venerable museum’s  last production in their previous Montlake home. Jean’s repeat is below. CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE

Jean's-coppins-pan-n-northeast-WEB

Warner’s revealing photograph can be found on page 142 of Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill, Historic Seattle’s still new book on the Propriety, Profanity, Pills and Preservation of what we think of as Seattle’s first exclusive neighborhood.  However, First Hill was not really so restrictive, and these two residences are proof of its equitable side.  While trim and even pleasing, they are still not fancy. In the Warner pan, they can be easily found side-by-side at the northwest corner of Columbia and Boren.

The part of the pan I first used as a Pacific Magazine feature early - March 6, 1988.
The part of the pan I first used as a Pacific Magazine feature, March 6, 1988.  CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE

On the left at 1016 Columbia Street is a typical box house of the time, with some trimmings.  There were many more examples of modest residences like this in every Seattle neighborhood.  Next door at 1020, the three stairways to the three front doors make this row house appear bigger than it is.  Its central tower gestures at the grandeur of its neighbors, many of the city’s biggest homes.  Within

The King County Tax Card for the row at 1020 Columbia with a photo of the row in 1937.  Courtesy Washington State Archive
The King County Tax Card for the row at 1020 Columbia with a photo of it fromt 1937. Courtesy Washington State Archive

two blocks are the Lowman, Hanford, Carkeek, Stacy, Lippy and Ranke mansions, and many more were under construction.  Of these just noted, only the Stacy mansion at the northeast corner of Boren and Madison survives, as the University Club.  By the authority of a King County tax card, the corner row house was razed in 1952, and probably its smaller neighbor, too.   The card’s construction date for the row house, 1875 (see above), is almost certainly too early by years.  

About a century ago a worker named N.G.Tormo took up the Seattle Times offer to contributed some "creative writing" for publicaition in the paper, and the paper did it.   Tormo lived in our  - or rather his row house at 1020 Columbia.
About a century ago a worker named N.G.Tormo took up the Seattle Times request that readers contributed some “creative writing” for publication in the paper, and the paper like Tormo’s impression of the  “chromatic symphony” one might her on their way up First Hill after work.. Tormo lived in our – or rather his –  row house at 1020 Columbia.

“Pacific Northwest” readers are encouraged to find a copy of Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill.  Well-wrought and well-illustrated (with Jean’s panorama from the Smith Tower on the cover), it is Historic Seattle’s admired study of the diverse history of this neighborhood, which includes among its preserved mansions the Dearborn House, home since 1997 for Historic Seattle.  

FrontCover-web

WEB EXTRAS

And here’s a look just around the corner at O’Dea High School:

O'Dea on a winter's day...
O’Dea on a winter’s day…

Anything to add on this beautiful Spring weekend?

Sure Jean, a sight tan on the top of my bald head, and your repeat looking north-northeast from the Coppins Water Tower,  which we may decide to insert into the text “proper” above, side by side or following the historical view.  And the tower ascends again near the bottom with two more Times clips from former Pacific features.  But now we begin with more links pulled by Ron Edge from the archive of those now-then features which we have hither-too scanned, and often used for other of this blog’s Sunday sets.

THEN: Built in the early twentieth century at the northeast  corner of Jefferson Street and Boren Avenue, Bertha and Frank Gardner’s residence was large but not a mansion, as were many big homes on First Hill.   (Courtesy Washington State Museum, Tacoma)

BOREN-&-University-Denny-&-Ainsworth-Homes-THEN-mr

THEN:  This detail from the prolific local photographer Asahel Curtis’s photograph of the Smith/Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue dates from the early twentieth century when motorcars, rolling or parked, were still very rare on the streets of Seattle, including these on First Hill.  (Courtesy, Historic Seattle)

THEN:

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MORE OF THE COPPINS WATER TOWER

A September 14, 1986 clipping from Pacific.
A September 14, 1986 clipping from Pacific. CLICK TWICE TO ENLARGE
CENTRAL SCHOOL from Coppins Water Tower - a clip from Pacific for July 28, 1996.
CENTRAL SCHOOL from Coppins Water Tower – a clip from Pacific for July 28, 1996.

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The Coppins Water Tower seen from the tower of the Haller Mansion at the northeast corner of James Street and Terry Avenue.   The towering Central School at Sixth and Madison and the Olympic Mountains, across Puget Sound appear beyond the water tower.
The Coppins Water Tower seen from the tower of the Haller Mansion at the northeast corner of James Street and Terry Avenue. The also towering Central School at Sixth and Madison and the Olympic Mountains, across Puget Sound, appear beyond the water tower.
The Granville Haller big home at the northeast corner of James Street and Terry Avenue as seen form the back lawn of the Campbell home.
The Granville Haller big home at the northeast corner of James Street and Terry Avenue as seen form the back lawn of the Campbell home.
Our last look down from the Coppins tower.  This view looks to the southeast.  The markings were made with the help of Carrie Campbell Coe, my primary informant on life on First Hill as the end of the 19th Century when she lived kitty-korner to the Haller Mansion.  Included among Carrie's marks are the Haller home on the far left.
Our last look down from the Coppins tower. This looks to the southeast. The markings were made with the help of Carrie Campbell Coe, my primary informant on life on First Hill at the end of the 19th Century when she lived kitty-corner to the Haller Mansion. Included among Carrie’s marks are the Haller home on the far left and her family home nearer the center.
Tea with Carrie Campbell Coe in her Washington Park home nearly thirty years ago.
Looking at historical photos and having some tea with Carrie Campbell Coe in her Washington Park home nearly thirty years ago.

 

 

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