Seattle Now & Then: Ye Olde Totem Place

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Totem Place, at 1750 Palm Ave. S.W., was home for Joseph Standley proprietor of Ye Old Curiosity Shop on Colman Dock. His death notice in The Seattle Times for Oct. 25, 1940 described the 86-year-old “Daddy” Standley as “almost as much a part of Seattle’s waterfront as the waves that dash again the seaweall.”
THEN: Totem Place, at 1750 Palm Ave. S.W., was home for Joseph Standley proprietor of Ye Old Curiosity Shop on Colman Dock. His death notice in The Seattle Times for Oct. 25, 1940 described the 86-year-old “Daddy” Standley as “almost as much a part of Seattle’s waterfront as the waves that dash against the seaweall.”
Joseph James, “Daddy” Standley’s grandson, will welcome visitors next Sunday to Totem Place for “If These Walls Could Talk” Southwest Seattle Histoircal Society’s popular yearly program of opening homes for inspection and story-telling.  The homes present owners Katy and Erik Walum will do some welcoming as well.
Joseph James, “Daddy” Standley’s grandson, will welcome visitors next Sunday to Totem Place for “If These Walls Could Talk” Southwest Seattle Histoircal Society’s popular yearly program of opening homes for inspection and story-telling. The homes present owners Katy and Erik Walum will do some welcoming as well.
A turned alternative photographed on the same sitting, it seems.
A turned alternative photographed AT the same sitting, it seems.

Here sits Joseph ”Daddy” Standley, one of the best-known self-promoters in Seattle history, relaxing in a real photo postcard beside his West Seattle home.  The caption pasted to the print on the right names the home Totem Place. The name also appears on the column to the left of the stairs decorated with potted plants and two large shells. 

Bill Speidel: reporter, promoter, publisher - before the Underground Tour.  (S. Times)
Bill Speidel: reporter, promoter, publisher – years before the Seattle Underground Tour. (S. Times)
A Presbyterian pastor and a Knights Templar too, ca. 1925.
A Presbyterian pastor and a Knights Templar too, ca. 1925
Ivar Haglund, the orientalist keeping cool.
Ivar Haglund, the orientalist keeping both clam and cool.
Daddy Standley standing with two of his totems and never once thinking "icons."
Daddy Standley standing with two of his totems and never once thinking “icons.”

Standley might be compared to three other local promotional players: Bill Speidel of the Underground Tours, Mark Mathews of First Presbyterian Church, and Ivar Haglund on Pier 54.  All were accomplished storytellers and created most of their own publicity, largely by making themselves the news.  “Daddy” Standley’s main stage, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, was on the waterfront, where it remains in Ivar’s Pier 54 (soon to reopen, with a remodel and new seawall.)

On Colman Dock (Courtesy Waterfront Awareness)
On Colman Dock (Courtesy Waterfront Awareness)
Daddy Standley somewhat earlier, known as "Curio Joe."
Daddy Standley somewhat earlier, known as “Curio Joe.”

The curio merchant’s life-long passion for collecting aboriginal artifacts is testimony to the importance of children’s literature.  For having the “neatest desk” in his third grade class, young Joseph won a book about Indian life, lore, and crafts.  The tome enchanted him so that ultimately the youthful anthropologist, to quote his namesake grandson, Joseph James, “turned his hobby into his business.” 

I found this among prints left to me by an old friend, the sign painter Arthur Link Lingenbrink.  Link had other photos of his "girl friend" - some "figure studies included."  Here, accompanying Link on one of his celebrity searches, she posed with Daddy in the late 1930s.
I found this among prints left to me by an old friend, the sign painter Arthur Link Lingenbrink. Link had other photos of his “girl friend” – some arty figure studies included.  Here, accompanying Link on one of his celebrity searches, she posed with Daddy in the late 1930s outside his Shop.

In 1899, the 45-year-old curio collector arrived in Seattle from Colorado with his wife and four children. In Denver he had operated a grocery store, with as much shelf space given to collectibles as to fruits and vegetables.  After a few moves and name changes, Standley’s curious collections found a home on Colman Dock. In 1906 the family built a home in West Seattle on Duwamish Head with a clear view across Elliott Bay to Colman Dock with their shop, steamers and ferries. 

Daddy's grandson, Joseph James, posing at the former site of the  Shop's first home  on Madison Street, near Western Ave. (see below)
Daddy’s grandson, Joseph James, posing at the former site of the
Shop’s first home on Madison Street, near Western Ave. (see below)
The first location for Ye Old Curiosity, on Madison near Western, ca. 1899.  (Courtesy, the Shop and Joe James.)
The first location for Ye Old Curiosity, on Madison near Western, ca. 1899. (Courtesy, the Shop and Joe James.)

Joseph James has taken his grandfather’s place for Jean Sherrard’s repeat and also for the upkeep of Ye Old Curiosity Shop’s traditions, both commercial and cultural.  Joe grew up in Totem Place and remembers fondly how the house became a second museum for Standley’s collections.  Its wide lawn was a sanctuary for his second passion, gardening.  A sculpture garden for about fifteen large totem poles and a “six-foot high mound built with shells from the seven seas” were an attraction for both the children of the neighborhood and sight-seeing busses. 

The Rubydeaux, one of the attractions for his children and their friends, which Daddy built on the big lot of Totem Place.
The Rubydeaux, one of the attractions for his children and their friends, which Daddy built on the big lot of Totem Place.   The contemporary repeat (from 2006) is below.

TOTEM-PLACE-TEAHOUSE-NOW-9_28_6-web

Next Sunday, June 28, Totem Place again becomes an attraction when the Southwest Seattle Historical Society assembles there its experts, exhibits – including “totems on loan” – for “Ye Olde Home of Joseph “Daddy” Standley. It is this year’s offering for the Society’s annual event, “If These Walls Could Talk.”  For details, call the Log House Museum at (206) 938-5293, or visit loghousemuseum.info.

We have superimposed Sylvester, one of the Shop s ancient stars,onto its stationary crom about 1940.  Note the list of services on the left.
We have superimposed Sylvester, one of the Shop’s ancient stars, onto Shop stationary from about 1940. Note the list of services/attractions on the left.   [CLICK to ENLARGE]
A wider view of Totem Place.  Although blasted by back light both Daddy Standley, near the center, and his tall sculpture made of shells, far right, are apparent.  (Courtesy John Cooper)
A wider view of Totem Place. Although blasted by back light both Daddy Standley, near the center, and his tall sculpture made of shells, far left, are apparent. (Courtesy John Cooper)

WEB EXTRAS

 Anything to add, boys (and that includes Clay Eals)?  BY GOLLY YES Jean, but not so timely, except if my excuse for being behind time might be found also in our subject: history.  No way that we can fill  in this blog by 3AM this Sunday morning.  I must  write the next Pacific feature for the Times by  then as well.  The research notes are abundant – too abundant, but what a delight to gather them.   So hopefully tomorrow I will return and add to this many neighborly features  that can be manufactured  with a little scanning of clips.

THEN: The Gatewood Craftsman Lodge was built on a road, in a neighborhood, and near a public school all named for the developer Carlisle Gatewood, who also lived in the neighborhood.  The three women posing in the third floor’s open windows are the Clark sisters, Jean, Dorothy and Peggy, members of the family that moved into the home in the late 1930s.

THEN: The Seattle Times in its lengthy coverage of the then new Seattle Steel in the paper’s Magazine Section for Sept. 10, 1905 – the year this photograph was recorded – noted that “the plant itself is a series of strong, substantial, cavernous sheds, built for use, not for beauty.”  (Courtesy, MOHAI, the Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: In 1852 many of Seattle’s first pioneers removed from Alki Point by dugout canoe for the deeper and safer harbor along the east shore of Elliott Bay (our central waterfront).  About a half-century later any hope or expectation that the few survivors among these pioneers could readily visit Alki Beach and Point by land were fulfilled with the timber quays and bridges along Spokane Street. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

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Scanned clips to follow – sooner than later, we hope.

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