(click to enlarge photos)
This row of strapping residences on Broadway stands near the summit of the long ridge that locals first referred to as “the first hill.” By the time these roosts were constructed in the early twentieth century, the “the” was increasingly dropped, but not the “first.” Broadway, along with Denny Way and Yesler Way, was so named to mark it as a border for the Central Business District. And it was platted broad too, eighty feet wide rather than the common sixty feet of other streets and avenues on the hill.
The size of the five big residences on show in this 1937 tax photo is a tribute to the late nineteenth century ambition of First Hill to distinguish itself as Seattle’s exclusive neighborhood of mansions. Usually raised above big double lots, these are exceptions, as each occupies a single lot. With the turn of the century, any exclusivity in this neighborhood was soon overwhelmed by Seattle’s muscular growth, and its needs for workers’ housing “within walking distance” or quick trolley rides to their employers beckoning. In addition to apartments, institutions such as schools, hospitals, and churches crowded First Hill in the early 1900s, so that its luxuriance was more in human stories than family wealth. The pan shown just above reveals the early diversity of housing on First Hill. It shows a mix of mansions, row-houses and apartments, but not institutions as yet.
On the featured photo of the Marion Street end of the block we have kept the tax record’s address, 832 Broadway, that has been scribbled by the assessor’s staff on the grass. It is a “family dwelling” with eight rooms built by Jennie and Frederick Hope in 1900. After her husband’s early demise, she continued to live in the home until her death in 1938. The surely zestful Jennie Hope liked to host all-French parties with no English speaking allowed. She also hosted a salon in her living room for Seattle’s Progressive Thought Club. The Times reported that for the gathering on January 23, 1910, Rev. J.D.O. Powers, a Unitarian minister, addressed the club on “The Purpose of Life.” On March 12, 1912, the Club’s question was equally big: “Why Are We On Earth?” (Regrettably, in neither instance did this newspaper publish any of the Club’s answers.) Jennie Hope also liked to take extensive trips, long enough to offer a few of her rooms for subletting during her absence.
Although it cannot easily be deciphered in the featured photo at the top, even in the original, there is just left of the Maple tree a neon sign attached to the roof of the porch at 824 Broadway, two doors south of the Hope home. The sign reads F. V. Rasmusson Funeral Home. The mortuary was easily the most reported and promoted of addresses on this east side of the 800 block. In 1942 John Kalin, its new owner-mortician, spread his hegemony by first purchasing the
larger residence north of his and then the Hope home a few years after Jennie’s death. Kalin advertised his funeral home as Catholic, and his final paid listing in the Times was a “last rosary” for Marcelino Ubaldo Lyco, a WWII veteran. The service was held in the John Kalin Chapel on November 22, 1965. A requiem mass was to follow the next day at St. Mary’s and finally a burial at Washelli Cemetery.
THE OTHER TAXED HOLDINGS ON THIS BROADWAY BLOCK – ONE ONE CHURCH
THE LAST TENANT AT 808 BROADWAY – and on it.
Anything to add, lads? A few mostly neighborhood features, which promises that some of these will repeat others of these this week and earlier and so be familiar to some readers of this blog. But let us be considerate of those for whom this is somewhat new, also remembering that for our seasoned selves “repetition is the mother of all learning.”
Below: THE 800 BLOCK ON BROADWAY FOOTPRINTS in both the 1908 & 1912 BAIST REAL ESTATE MAPS. [click to enlarge]
5 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Row of Houses on Broadway”
Surely it must be “eighty feet wide” not “eight”. Or perhaps they had microhousing back then?
Thanks, Richard, typo noted and corrected!
The property record card with the caption: “808 Broadway with the northwest corner of the former home of Westminster Methodist” is incorrect. This was actually the Westminster Presbyterian church.
Thanks so much for posting this–my father lived at 808 Broadway growing up and appears on the 1950 census there, along with his mother and grandmother, who was listed as the proprietor. It’s so neat to see the neighborhood as he might have known it. Much better than looking at the parking garage with Google Earth!
Now I see that my great grandmother’s name is on one of the cards for 808 Broadway as the purchaser, so cool, thank you again!