We will concentrate first on Jean Sherrard’s ‘repeat’ that looks into the face of Songbird, by sculptor John Henry. The Chattanooga artist visited Seattle twice to study this northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Yesler Way. He determined what we, perhaps, have not considered. “The work would have to interact with the sight lines available, yield to the physical demands of the Yesler overpass and still compliment the architectural design of the building. It would be an exercise of creating a piece with enough strength to command the site yet subtle enough not to overpower its surroundings.”
The historical photo featured at the top, one of several taken by a public works photographer in the summer of 1911, documents the troubles the regraders were having here at Fifth Avenue and Yesler Way. The clipping directly below form the Times for February 28, 1899 reveals that the slipping here was an old worry.
The featured subject looks north over the regrade mess on Fifth from the work-in-progress on the Yesler Way overpass. Beginning with the Frances Hotel, seen here at the northeast corner, there are two more structures between Yesler and Terrace, the next street north. All three are in trouble. When the responsibilities were at last resolved in the courts, twenty-four structures on Yesler, Terrace, Fifth, and Sixth, were counted as damaged by slides triggered by the Fifth Avenue regrade.
Real estate speculator, C.P.Dose, the owner of The Frances, described himself and his neighbors as victims of City Engineer R.H. Thomson’s “cutting off the toe off First Hill,” similar to the little Dutch boy pulling his finger from the hole in the dike. Like others, Dose understood the hill’s abundant fluid dynamics. Those dynamics were high on the list of reasons that most of the original pioneers on Alki Point soon left that dry prominence to build a city on and beside this wet hill. After the cutting off of its toe, Dose concluded that most of the “so-called First Hill” should be carefully removed; otherwise, he advised, “It will all come sliding down.”
If I have read the clues correctly, Dose built his Fifth Avenue Hotel, its first name, for $6,000 in the summer of 1900, soon after relocating his prospering real estate business from Chicago to Seattle. With his son, C.C. Dose, he opened his real estate office in the clapboard hotel and soon became a leader among his neighbors in plotting what to do about their slippery situation. A solution arrived on the 23rd of August, 1911, when all the windows in The Frances cracked as, The Seattle Times reported, it moved “one foot closer to the brink.” The three hotels on Fifth Avenue were abruptly abandoned and soon razed. Dose was comforted in the Mt. Baker Neighborhood. He had been holding onto ten acres there since 1870, when he purchased the lakeside land sight unseen while still in Chicago. In 1904 and 1907 he platted his “Dose’s Lake Washington Addition to the City of Seattle” and in 1912 built his home there, a colonial-style mansion with grand Corinthian columns at the front. It still stands tall at 3211 S. Dose Terrace.
Anything to add, lads? A few more Edge Clips from the neighborhood and then some more old features from the same. We will get as far as we can, but then surrender at 2am for the latest climb to nighty bears. (How should we spell it? Bill.)
RETURNING to OUR LADY OF GOOD HELP – Looking Southeast across the intersection of 5th and Jefferson.