Seattle Now & Then: Mayor Brown’s Garage in Redmond

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: From studying both aerial and tax photos, Redmond historian Tom Hitzroth figures that the bell tower on the roof of Brown’s Garage was removed between 1936 and 1938. (Most likely it was used to alert the town’s volunteer fire department.) By then Mayor Bill Brown had sold his garage while keeping his mayoral chair. (Courtesy, Redmond Historical Society)
THEN: From studying both aerial and tax photos, Redmond historian Tom Hitzroth figures that the bell tower on the roof of Brown’s Garage was removed between 1936 and 1938. (Most likely it was used to alert the town’s volunteer fire department.) By then Mayor Bill Brown had sold his garage while keeping his mayoral chair. (Courtesy, Redmond Historical Society)
NOW: Redmond’s brick landmark that began as its mayor’s auto repair garage has been used through its first ninety-five years variously as a furniture store, a sports store, and more recently a liquor store. In his 1998 historylink history of this now ‘high technology town,’ historian Alan J. Stein concludes, “Chances are, if you own or use a computer anywhere in the world, you’ve heard of Redmond.” Microsoft began developing its Redmond campus in 1985.
NOW: Redmond’s brick landmark that began as its mayor’s auto repair garage has been used through its first ninety-five years variously as a furniture store, a sports store, and more recently a liquor store. In his 1998 historylink history of this now ‘high technology town,’ historian Alan J. Stein concludes, “Chances are, if you own or use a computer anywhere in the world, you’ve heard of Redmond.” Microsoft began developing its Redmond campus in 1985.

I confess that I know neither who took this photo nor when, nor do I know whose fleet of trucks this is, nor the names of any of the, I presume, drivers posing with them.  (Hopefully, a Times reader will know and enlighten us all with a letter to the editor.)  With the combined help of Sherry Stilin, heritage activist, Tom Hitzroth, the Chair of Redmond’s City Landmark Commission, and Nancy Way, the author of Our Town, Redmond, I do know who built this sturdy brick business and when. Bill Brown was serving his first term as Redmond’s mayor when he began construction on what is now an official landmark, located in what high-tech Redmond is calling its Old Town Historic Core.  Both the date, 1920, and the name, Brown’s Garage, are posted above the front door, and another sign swinging above the sidewalk, lets one know that Good Year tires are included among the motorcar services that Brown is selling.

Mayor Bill Brown

Earlier, before building his garage here at the southwest corner of Redmond Way and 164th Ave NE.,  Brown had operated a popular saloon in the neighborhood.  It survives as another Redmond landmark: the Brown Building. When new in 1913, the two-story brick bar was the tallest commercial structure in town.  It may have also been the most companionable.  There was drinking on the main floor, while upstairs there was dancing in the big room, and, it seems, some hooking in the smaller ones. With national prohibition closing the legal taps in 1919, Brown turned his saloon into a drug store.  He then jumped from fixing sorrow through alcohol to mending motorcars in his garage with twenty mechanics’ stalls – plus a gas station.  Sherry Stilin explains that Brown’s motto was “All Roads Lead to Redmond.”

Looking
Looking east on Cleveland Street toward Redmond’s historic crossroads of Leary Way and Cleveland.  We’ll print a now-then of this – with text – below.

Conveniently, Snoqualmie Pass opened to adventurous motorists in 1915.  The improved Yellowstone Trail (aka the Sunset Highway) reached the pass through Redmond, but not yet as easily through Renton or the strawberry fields of bridgeless Bellevue.  Also a

The Snoqualmie pass "highway" in 1914/15.
The Snoqualmie pass “highway” in 1914/15.
Early road work on Snoqualmie Pass.
Early road work on Snoqualmie Pass.
We propose or suspect that this is an early record of the Kirkland-Redmond highway. Wrong or right, we will probably know which by next week when we put up another Redmond feature.
We propose or suspect that this is an early record of the Kirkland-Redmond highway. Wrong or right, we will probably know which by next week when we put up another Redmond feature.

graded road between Kirkland and Redmond had been completed in 1911. The astute Brown purchased an open omnibus to carry passengers between them. By author Way’s reckoning, Mayor Brown’s “biggest accomplishment” was the building and paving of the West Lake Sammamish Parkway between Redmond and Issaquah.  That Brown then also developed commercial home sites along the way would not be considered cricket today, although he was surely industrious.  This convivial and boomer mayor was widely appreciated and kept his title for three decades, until beat in the 1949 election in which 332 Redmond citizens cast their votes.  Now, a mere sixty-sixty years later, Redmond employs around six-hundred workers to serve its citizens.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, fellahs?  Just a few relevant links from the east side.  On the whole, however, for the now 34 yeasrs of this Sunday Times feature we have not ventured across the lake that much.  We had a few eastern county runs when we were preparing the book “Washington Then and Now”  – it was published in 2007 – but since then not so much.  Next week when we feature Redmond’s pioneer bank, we will pull up a few more, including some aerials from Ron Edge’s scans.

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AS FROM ABOVE

First appeared in Pacific, march 19, 2006

clip Cleveland redmond-now-COLOR-mr.WEB

First appeared in Pacific March 19, 2006.
First appeared in Pacific March 19, 2006.

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First appeared in Pacific Sept. 20, 1998.
First appeared in Pacific Sept. 20, 1998.

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First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 21, 1986.
First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 21, 1986.

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Sammamish-Slough-Log-Jam-web

First appeared in Pacific November 19, 1995.
First appeared in Pacific November 19, 1995.

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The City of Bothell with its stack still folded having passed below the bridge showing behind it.
The Sammamish Slough steamer  City of Bothell with its stack still folded having passed below the bridge showing behind it.
First appeared in Pacific July 14, 1985.
First appeared in Pacific July 14, 1985.

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First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 19, 1989.
First appeared in Pacific, Feb. 19, 1989.

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clip Index-Pan-THEN-WEB

clip INDEX-PAN-NOW--WEB

First appeared in Pacific December 13, 2007.
First appeared in Pacific December 13, 2007.  CLICK to ENLARGE

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LONG BEFORE THE GILDED AGE

Title page from THE NEW WASHINGTON, a guide thru highway tours of the state originally published in 1941 when, you will find below, the biggest news from Redmond was a bear stuck in a tree.
Title page from THE NEW WASHINGTON, a guide thru highway tours of the state originally published in 1941 when, you will find below, the biggest news from Redmond was a bear stuck in a tree.
Redmond slipped onto page 321.
Redmond slipped onto page 321, about half way down..   Tour 1 reached Seattle from Spokane via the north route through Wenatchee and from there over Blewett and Snoqaulmie passes.

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KNOWN AND YET UNKNOWN

The pastoral and picturesque scene below I identifies itself as on Squak – aka Sammamish – Slough.  But where?  The bridge on the far right is surely a clew.   Again, we hope for readers’ help.

Squak-Slough-barn-MYSTERY-web

 

 

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Mayor Brown’s Garage in Redmond”

  1. RE Brown’s Garage, the trucks are a nice matching fleet of nine Fageols, 1929-1931. They appear to have tanks mounted so I guess we could suppose that Brown was also in the fuel delivery business. The tow chains slung around the bumpers testify to the conditions they met. They probably got into some murky stuff on farms in the area. The license plates are 1929 or 1931. Both years had white on black colors. I’m guessing the latter because the numbers were a bit blockier in 1931.

  2. Hello. We met you at the Redmond Historical Society. I was wondering if you would have any interest in photos from my father’s Space Needle scrapbook. He did the wiring for the original torch on the Space Needle. He passed on in 2006, but I wrote his life story, so his memories live on. Cheryl Magnuson

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