Seattle Now & Then: The Westlake Triangle (aka The Silverstone Block)

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)
THEN: This Webster and Stevens studio photo dates from either late 1917 or early 1918. The grand Frederick and Nelson Department store, rising above Fifth Avenue, has not yet reached its sumptuous Sept. 3. 1918 opening. In the foreground, the much smaller but also elegant flatiron building, bordered by Pine Street, in the foreground, and Westlake and Fifth Avenues to the sides, was razed and replaced also in 1918 by a three story retail block on the same flatiron footprint. Photos of that replacement will first be found two imagines down.  (Courtesy, the Museum of History & Industry)
NOW: The featured triangular block was ultimately covered over with the 1988 opening of Westlake Center.
NOW: The featured triangular block was ultimately covered over with the 1988 opening of Westlake Center.

In a note scribbled on the 1937 tax card for this modest block, it is named the “triangle.”  Bordered by Pine Street, 5th Avenue, and Westlake Avenue, it is really one of about a dozen triangles attached to Westlake Avenue through its seven-block run between Fourth Avenue and Denny Way.   The triangles, and about seven more irregularly-shaped blocks, date from 1906-07 when Westlake Avenue was cut through the original city grid.  This eccentric

The "Triangle," an appropriate and descriptive name for the odd block bordered here by 5th Ave. on the Left, Westlake Ave. on the right, and Pine Street at the far end of the "Triangle." The photo comes from one of the thousands of "tax cards" produced by a depression-time Works Progress Administration documenting every (nearly) taxable structure and a few churches too in King County.
The “Triangle,” an appropriate and descriptive name for the odd block bordered here by 5th Ave. on the Left, Westlake Ave. on the right, and Pine Street at the far south end of the “Triangle.” The photo comes from one of the thousands of “tax cards” produced by a depression-time Works Progress Administration project documenting every (or almost every) taxable structure in King County and a few tax-free churches too.

regrade was meant to channel the increasing traffic to Denny Way, there to continue north through the “funnel,” as the South Lake Union retail neighborhood was then sometimes called, to the picturesque viaduct built in 1890 for pedestrians, wagons and trolleys along the west shore of Lake Union all the way to Fremont.

Looking north on Westlake by the lake in the 1890s. The viaduct continued along the west shore of Lake Union to the Fremont Bridge at Lake Union's Ross Creek outlet.
Looking north on Westlake by the lake in the 1890s. The viaduct continued along the west shore of Lake Union to the Fremont Bridge at Lake Union’s Ross Creek outlet.

The featured photo at the top  is one of three Webster and Stevens Studio photographs of the original charming flatiron with its waving cornice.  It sights north over Pine Street along the east side of Westlake.  Another of the three photos is printed directly below.  It looks in the opposite direction, and shows the same single motorcar parked on Westlake (perhaps the photographer’s) and the produce stand with its fruit and customers protected by an awning opened over the sidewalk.  The Pearl Oyster and Chop House is the

The second of three looks at the "Tirangle" looking south-southeast over Westalke Avenue with 5th Avenue on the left and the brand new Frederick and Nelson Department store on its far side.
The second of three looks at the “Tirangle” looking south-southeast over Westalke Avenue with 5th Avenue on the left and the brand new Frederick and Nelson Department store on its far side.  

next storefront south of the produce stand.  Taped to it windows are more than one poster promoting the week-long visit to the Metropolitan Theatre, beginning Monday January 7, of the Shakespearean troupe led by the “eminent” Shakespearian John E. Kellerd.  It is by this bit of advertising that we can easily figure that the three photos were taken sometime either in late 1917 or early 1918.  Frankly, this discovery saddened me because I prefer this little triangle with its curvilinear cresting and large basket-handle windows to its several successors, the first of which is shown on the tax photo printed above, three images back or above .  (The third of the three Webster and Stevens photos follows, all are used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.)

Another of the first of the "Triangle Buildings," this one looking northwest through the intersection of Pine Street and Fifth Avenue. Frederick and Nelson is just out-of-trams to the right. The Seattle Times building on Westlake between Olive and Stewart is on the far right.
Another of the first of the “Triangle Buildings,” this one looking northwest through the intersection of Pine Street and Fifth Avenue.  Frederick and Nelson is just out-of-frame to the right. The Seattle Times building on Westlake between Olive and Stewart is on the far right.
Jean's "repeat" from late August 1916.
Jean’s “repeat” from late August 2016.
A 1949 look at the somewhat modernized Triangle Building.
A 1949 tax-card look at the somewhat modernized Triangle Building.

An 1891  Birdseye and Three Maps – 1893, 1908 & 1912 – of Location

The intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street may be identified in this detail from the 1891 Birdseye by the number "95" that is written on it.
The intersection of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street may be identified in this detail in the 1891 Seattle Birdseye by the number “95” that is written below the scene’s center.  The number is the birdseye’s key to the electric trolley garage or barn that crowds the northeast corner of the intersection with its red brick construction.   The larger red brick building at the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and Stewart Street also belonged to the Seattle Electric Company that ran the trolleys.  The Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church holds the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, bottom-left.  The church is featured in the “Extras” below.  It is the second one down from the top.  The birdseye was published fifteen years previous to the public work of regrading Westlake between Fourth and Pike and Denny Way, and so that cut does not show in it, nor in the 1893 Sanbord real estate (and fire insurance) map directly below.  It does, however, show in both the 1908 and 1912 maps that fulfill this quartet.   It was, of course, the Westlake Regarde of 1906/7 that created the triangular and other odd-shaped blocks that sided it. 
With a little patient searching a few of the buildings that appear in the detail above from the 1891 Seattle Birdseye also show in this 1893 Sanborn Real Estate Map.
With a little patient searching a few of the buildings that appear in the detail above pulled from the 1891 Seattle Birdseye also show in this 1893 Sanborn Real Estate Map.  The car barn is upper-right at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street; the Norwegian-Danish Lutherans are upper left, and the intersection of Fourth Ave. and Pike Street, that thirteen years later was the southern point of origin for the Westlake Ave. Regrade, is at the bottom-left.  This point was studies in its own feature and can be found in the Extras stacked below.  It is next-to-the-last: twenty-four of twenty-five.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
Here is the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, Westalke Avenue has freshly cut its way through the block and the triangle block bordered by Pine Street, at the bottom, and the new Westlake and 5th Avenue
Here in the 1908 Baist Real Estate Map, Westalke Avenue has freshly cut its way through the block and the triangle block bordered by Pine Street, at the bottom, and the new Westlake and “old” Fifth Avenues share the center of the detail.   Note the electric company’s red brick constructions on the right.  These may be studied as well in the 14th Extra stacked below. 
A detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, including the triangle block, upper-left, identified as home for the Everret Interurban RR.
A detail from the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, including the triangle block, upper-left, identified as home for the Everett Interurban Station.  The Westake Market has taken most of the Seattle Electric block, top-center.  Remember: CLICK to ENLARGE

In the 1908 Baist Real Estate map [two illustrations up] only a small wooden shed is foot-printed in the triangle block, bottom-center.  By four years later, in the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, the block has been tightly fitted for the little retail center captured at the top of this feature.   Through its few years  it was also home for the Seattle station of the Everett Interurban, which started running in 1910.

A clipping from the December 26, 1916 Seattle Times.
A clipping from the December 26, 1916 Seattle Times.
A steady eye will find the florid roof-line of the triangle block on the far left. The corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street is bottom right.
A steady eye will find the florid roof-line of the triangle block on the far left. The corner of Third Ave. and Pine Street is bottom right.  CLICK TO ENLARGE
AND SEEN AGAIN in this look east on Pine Street. The curving cornice of the Triangle block is left-of-center -
AND SEEN AGAIN in this look east on Pine Street. The curving cornice of the Triangle block is left-of-center, and seems to be crowned by the Westlake Market sign, but is not.  That’s across Fifth Avenue, a new use for the old trolley car barn on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Pine Street.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

Sometime in 1918 this attractive triangle was razed and replaced with a three-story structure that bordered the block with a foundation sturdy enough to support a twelve-story high-rise that was never constructed. Through its more than half-century of service and two remodels (the tax card tells us in 1949 and 1959),

The Triangle block's south facade facing Pine Street appears here on the far left, with the new Frederick and Nelson beyond it. The view looks east on Pine Street with its back to Fourth Avenue.
The Triangle block’s south facade facing Pine Street appears here on the far left with the new Frederick and Nelson beyond it. The view looks east on Pine Street with its back to Fourth Avenue.  A similar photo looking east on Pine thru its intersection with Fourth Avenue is at the top of the stack for the Extras shown soon below. 
The 1959 tax card for the then latest removed of the Triangle aka Silverstone Building.
The 1959 tax card for the then latest removed of the Triangle aka Silverstone Building.
An interruped Westlake Ave. sided in 1966 by a temporary Seafair-related
Westlake Ave. sided in 1966 looking north across Pine Street with the Silverstone Building on the right with its Weisfield’s brick face.  Westlake is interrupted by a temporary Seafair-related construction.  The photo was taken on June 6, 1966 by Frank Shaw. 

the three-story triangle serviced many retailers. The tax-photo (two above) illustrating the last of these changes reveals a nearly windowless brick mass impressively filling the block with “Weisfield’s Credit Jewelers” signed in big neon letters on its south façade facing Pine Street. (I remember this and I suspect many of you do as well.)

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Judging by the tenants’ advertisements sample above and published in this paper through the first weeks of 1919, the quickly-built three-story replacement was completed sometime in late 1918.  Among the first tenants were The Silk Shop, Violet Tatus’ New Hat Shop and the New Owl Drug Company. The building was named the Silverstone

The Triangle block appears at the center-bottom of this detail from the 1923 map by Kroll of Seattle's "business section."
The Triangle block appears at the center-bottom  (below the Frederick and Nelson block) of this detail from the 1923 map by Kroll of Seattle’s “business section.”

after Jay C. Silverstone, a Kansas City native who moved to Seattle with his family to found the Boston Drug Company.  Silverstone became a super-promoter for properties in this nearly new retail neighborhood.  When he added the little flatiron to his neighborhood holdings, the headline for the Seattle Times for Sept. 2, 1917, read “New Retail /District Sets Record Price for Seattle Realty.”  Silverstone and his brother Hiram, a physician practicing in Kansas City, purchased the block from Seattle architect John Graham, paying “$56 Per Square Foot for the Westlake Triangle,” which figured to $250,000, most of it in cash. 

The Times Sept. 2, 1917 report on Jay C. Silverstone's record-breaking purchase of the featured little triangle.
The Times Sept. 2, 1917 report on Jay C. Silverstone’s record-breaking purchase of the featured little triangle.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

BELOW: TWO STRESSFUL SILVERSTONE CLIPS from the TIMES

THE SEATTLE TIMES from April 4, 1916
THE SEATTLE TIMES from April 4, 1916
March 27, 1920
March 27, 1920
An undated look north on Westlake thru Pine Street with the southwest corner of the Silverstone Building showing on the far right.
An undated look north on Westlake to Pine Street with the southwest corner of the Silverstone Building showing on the far right.  The Plaza Hotel on the left holds the larger triangle at 5th and Westlake and Pine made by Westlake Regrade in 1906/7. 

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lads?  Surely Jean.  As is his way, Ron Edge has pulled up several neighborhood shots and stacked them below.  Held in each are more, some of which will be repeated many times through the selection.  Which is our way.

THEN: Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill. Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner. (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

THEN: Sometime between early December 1906 and mid-February 1907 an unnamed photographer with her or his back about two lots north of Pike Street recorded landmarks on the east side of Third Avenue including, in part, the Washington Bar stables, on the right; the Union Stables at the center, a church converted for theatre at Pine Street, and north of Pine up a snow-dusted Denny Hill, the Washington Hotel. (Used courtesy of Ron Edge)

Great railroad signs, theatre signs and ranks of neon were still the greatest contributors to night light at 4th and Westlake in 1949. (Photo by Robert Bradley compliment of Lawton and Jean Gowey)

THEN: Thanks to Pacific reader John Thomas for sharing this photograph recorded by his father in 1927. It looks north across Times Square to the almost completed Orpheum Theatre. Fifth Avenue is on the left, and Westlake on the right.

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THEN: A motorcycle courier for Bartell Drugs poses before the chain’s Store No. 14, located in the Seaboard Building at the northwest corner of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street, circa 1929. (Courtesy Bartell Drugs)

THEN: Looking west on Pike Street from Fourth Avenue, the variety in the first block of this retail district includes the Rhodes Bros. Ten Cent Store, Mendenhall’s Kodaks, Fountain Pens and Photo Supplies, Remick’s Song and Gift Shop, the Lotus Confectionary, Fahey-Brockman’s Clothiers, where, one may “buy upstairs and save $10.00”. (Courtesy, MOHAI)

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THEN: With her or his back to the Medical-Dental Building an unidentified photographer took this look northeast through the intersection of 6th and Olive Way about five years after the Olive Way Garage first opened in 1925. (Courtesy, Mark Ambler)

 

THEN:The early evening dazzle of the Roosevelt Theatre at 515 Pike Street, probably in 1941. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: We are not told but perhaps it is Dora and Otto Ranke and their four children posing with their home at 5th and Pike for the pioneer photographer Theo. E. Peiser ca. 1884. In the haze behind them looms Denny Hill. (Courtesy Ron Edge)

THEN: While visiting Seattle for some promoting, silent film star Wallace Reid shares the sidewalk at 4th and Olive with a borrowed Stutz Bearcat. (Courtesy, Museum of History & Industry)

THEN: A float for the 1911 Potlatch parade carries piggyback a smaller 1897 version of a Polk City Directory on a much bigger 1911 copy. The fourteen years between them is meant to symbolize the growth of the city since the Alaskan/Yukon gold rush of 1897 that the Golden Potlatch of 1911 was created to commemorate. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Thanks again and again to Lawton Gowey for another contribution to this feature, this ca. 1917 look into a fresh Denny Regrade and nearly new “office-factory” at 1921 Fifth Avenue. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey.)

THEN: Looking south from Pine Street down the wide Second Avenue in 1911, then Seattle’s growing retail strip and parade promenade. (courtesy of Jim Westall)

THEN: The row house at the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Pine Street in its last months, ca. 1922-23. (Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: This rare early record of the Fourth and Pike intersection was first found by Robert McDonald, both a state senator and history buff with a special interest in historical photography. He then donated this photograph - with the rest of his collection - to the Museum of History and Industry, whom we thank for its use. (Courtesy MOHAI)

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ALSO NEARBY (Chapter – or feature – NO. 20 from Seattle Now and Then Volume One, which can be read from cover to cover on this blog, and it found in the front page bug ”

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