In line and alert, members of the Fremont Historical Society stand for Jean Sherrard’s “repeat” on the southbound lanes of the Fremont Bascule Bridge. The FHS members have just adjourned from their April meeting (the second Saturday) in the nearby conference room of the Fremont Public Library. The historians met in part to consider where to stand for the “repeat” of this week’s featured “then” and together study the inviting jumble of meanings included in the older photograph. The leading goals are, of course, to discover or uncover the “where” and “when” of the photograph, which, judging from the shadows, was recorded around noon. Although it came with no caption, the members easily knew, and in unison, that his was Fremont Avenue. They were less secure regarding its uncertain elevation. That will take more time.
Early during the members joint research someone noticed the sign exhibited, upper-left, in the second floor corner window of the clapboard business block. It reads “Mabel Canney, Piano”. Searches of city directories revealed that Mabel, and probably her piano, were located here in 1908 and 1909 but were then followed in 1910 by her younger sister Ella Mae. This, of course, strongly suggests that the Canneys were a musical family, but also that this subject looking north on Fremont Avenue was photographed sometime when one, or both, of the sisters was in residence there.
With the help and confirmation of other photographs, plus city maps – especially the real estate maps of 1908 and 1912 (as seen for inspection eleven photographs above) – and directories, the deliberating FHS membership could eventually calm the uncanny feeling that something was a kilter here. Through the years of building the Lake Washington Ship Canal, 1911-1917, there were big grade changes here.
In the featured photograph at the top in this first block south of the intersection of Fremont Avenue and Ewing Street, now 34th Street, Fremont Avenue was cut off and dropped below a retaining wall. In the process, both the mercantile building with the Canney piano on the left, and the mill warehouse on the far right, were settled to rest below the deck of the new but short-lived Fremont Bridge constructed in 1911-12. That was not the bascule bridge, which opened in 1917, but its penultimate span that reached N. 34th Street and the Fremont Business district at the new and still holding elevation. The investigating Society also discovered that the railroad track, which curves across the bottom of the subject, was kept to pass below the new Fremont Bridge. It was the Seattle and International Railroad spur that reached Fremont’s main employer, the Bryant Lumber Mill, to the right and behind the unnamed photographer.
Anything to add, lads? Yes Jean, those directly below that Ron Edge put up earlier this evening, and eventually a few more relevant features that I’ll pull from the archive after breakfast. It is 5:19 AM Saturday morning now, and I’m going to bed. Remembering now and in honor of Bill Burden its parent the kind good night “Nighty-Bears.” I climb the stairs.