(click to enlarge photos)
At its core, this two-story box shows off some of the architectural style covered with the term Italianate, and surely this humble Italian could look quite spiffy with some fresh paint, perhaps of several colors in the ‘painted lady’ way. The low-pitch hip roof extends with wide eaves supported by large brackets. The windows are longish, and the bay that climbs nearly the entire front façade is, appropriate to the style, rectangular.
This photograph includes within its borders two captions. The short one, “43,” is either stapled to the side of the impressively thick power pole standing right-of-center, or it is supported by its own narrow pole temporarily stuck into the unkempt parking strip. The longer caption, written directly on the original negative, records some clerical necessities for this Seattle Housing Authority property. For our interests, most important are the date, the eighth of January, 1940, and the address, 723 Yesler. Except this is not
Yesler Way. Rather, this is E. Washington Street, the part of it that is now either directly under the outer northbound lane of Interstate-5, or in the grass lawn that borders it, one block south of Yesler Way. Whichever, its surrounds will for the next few months look much like the flattened neighborhood that Jean Sherrard recorded south across Yesler Way.
Jean’s and my eleventh hour one-block correction (at our desks) was first abetted by the photograph’s third “caption,” the house number attached to the top of the dark front door: 717. A clue also canters from the foreground of this 1940 snapshot. There are no trolley tracks in the street. Cable cars first started climbing Mill Street, as Yesler Way was then named, in 1888. They made their final ascent here (or rather there) on Friday, August 9, 1940, six months and one day after the photographer for or from the Seattle Housing Authority made this record of 717 Washington Street, as well as many other doomed residences in the neighborhood. All, including some on Yesler Way, were tagged for destruction. We know the name neither of the prolific photographer nor of the confused scribe. Possibly they were one and the same.
A final clue for our correction is a gift from the turreted home on the far left (of the featured photo at the top), which I recognized from another photograph (the one just above). It stood one block north of Main Street near the northeast corner of 8th Avenue. It too was razed for Yesler Terrace, the first public housing developed in Washington State, and the first federally funded low-income housing built in the U.S. that was racially integrated. The first 150 of the old houses started coming down in the fall of 1940. One year later the first 200 families were moving in, 58 of these families into the two-room flats that rented for $9.75 a month. The Seattle Times of November 7, 1941, noted that the rent would stay the same as long as “papa doesn’t get too big a raise.” The annual income limit for such affordable smaller quarters was $525.
Before I ask my eternal question, I’m going to add some snaps I took last week of the bus station demolition. How many of us climbed aboard a greyhound bus at 9th and Stewart, headed for distant places?
Anything to add, boys? My oh my how my heart is skipping like a youngster boarding the bus. How many cheap adventures, beginning in my teens, started off from this corner. Here Jean and Ron is a not so old interior from the 1970s.
Yup, and again with help from Ron Edge and all his links we’ll put up some relevant past features. Here’s also our bi-weekly reminder. There will be some repeats of these repeats. That is, a peculiarly or especially relevant feature may well appear linked to several features. Here we again appeal to mom – my mom, Ida Gerina Christiansen-Dorpat – and her homily. “Paul, remember that the mother of instruction is repeitition” (She may have said “all learning” rather an instruction.) I don’t remember, which is evidence that I did not follow her advice well enough to remember the wording, although I have often kept to the spirit.
WE CLOSE WITH A QUIZ – WHERE IS THIS? I do not remember, Although I stopped my car to snap it, the negatives to either side of this one do not help place it – sometime in the 70’s, it seems. I think it nifty.
2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Yesler (No sir!)”
Hello, I believe this house is still there – on 1st Ave. North, 2nd block off Denny on the way up to Seattle Center/lower QA.
Thank-you for the excellent images, information and memories.
By Jove, I think you’ve got it!