Seattle Now & Then: Swedish Hospital, 1929

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Looking southwest from Marion Street along Summit Avenue into the campus of the Swedish Hospital in the late 1920s. (Courtesy, The Swedish Club).
NOW: The well-packed central cluster of Swedish Hospital’s additions as recorded looking southwest from the fifth floor of the Nordstrom Medical Tower near the northeast corner of Marion Street and Summit Avenue.

I sparked when first shown the left half of this ca. 1929 panorama of the Swedish Hospital campus.  Although not placed side-by-side, both parts are included in an album of about 100 photographs taken by Seattle/Ballard professional Klaes Nordquist.  Most of the photos are from the 1920s and have Swedish subjects.  Kristine Leander, the current Executive Director of the thriving Swedish Club, introduced me to the album.  She has recently donated the collection to the stewardship of the Museum of History and Industry both for safe-keeping and public access.

Swedish Hospital looking northwest across Columbia Street towards its intersection with Summit Avenue.

It was only recently that I recognized that the Nordquist album also held the right half of the panorama printed here. The combined view looks south-southwest from Nordquist’s prospect near the northeast corner of Summit Avenue and Marion Street. The original three-story hospital sits one block south at the northwest corner of Summit and Columbia.  Both in the featured panorama and in the photograph printed directly above, it is the ornate structure below the water tank, which is half-hiding behind the chimney at the pan’s center.   (Jean and I first featured this “Summit Avenue Hospital” in PacificNW’s November 8, 2014, issue.  It is repeated below as the first link among those placed by Ron Edge for the week’s’ feature.) Far right in the panorama stands the hospital’s first over-sized addition, planned in 1925 and completed to seven floors in 1929.

ABOVE: The drawing above, first published in the June 28, 1925 issue of The Seattle Times, includes a planned addition on the right that was changed before construction. To the left, the original hospital holds on. The changes for the new addition are revealed in The Seattle Times rotogravure page below that groups eight new Seattle structures. The built hospital addition appears at the bottom-left corner of the montage and can be compared to the featured panorama.  The rotogravure dates from August 7, 1927.   (Quiz – What is Seattle’s Chief Coal Supply?  Or was, in 1927.)
A Seattle Times rotogravure photomontage from 1927 includes Swedish Hospital and its new addition as built. (CLICK to ENLARGE)

A Seattle Times clip from March 12, 1929.  [Question/Quiz:  What makes “one of the latest achievements in the cinema field”  (in 1929) possible?)
When compared to Nordquist’s pan, the formidable jumble of walls stacked in Jean Sherrard’s recent “repeat” is a concrete metaphor for the relentless adjustments needed by Swedish Hospital through its first-century-plus of often manic growth.  One can easily ponder the extent of that growth by visiting the hospital’s own webpage.  While sometimes slippery with public-relations prose, it is packed with this grand health service’s accomplishments.  For an independent narrative of the Swedes on First Hill, Jean and I recommend Historylink, the on-line encyclopedia of Washington State history. (One can link to it at  The essay was authored by Jennifer Ott, Historylink’s Assistant Director.  With David B. Williams, Ott is also co-author of Historylink’s timely new book Waterway, the Story of Seattle’s Locks and Ship Canal.)

First published in Pacific on March 28, 2001  (CLICK to ENLARGE)
The Otis hotel line of additions fills the right half of this joined panorama taken from the southeast corner of Summit and Columbia. This pan is described in the first of the Edge Links added below. (You cannot miss it.)
Looking east to the Otis Hotel row from a prospect near Boren Ave. and Marion Street. Second Hill is on the horizon.

Finally, we will note two nearby landmarks in Nordquist’s pan that in the late 1920s had not yet removed for expansion of the Swedish Hospital campus.  The north façade of the nearly block-long Otis Hotel, far left in the featured panorama is described in a Times classified for June 24, 1928: “This popular residential hotel, 804 Summit, opposite Swedish Hospital is being thoroughly renovated … private phones, excellent meals, splendid location.”  Across Summit Avenue, at its southwest corner with Marion, nestles the

Swedish Hospital’s graduate nurses in the spring of 1928. A Times clip form May 14.

professional home for six eye, ear, nose and throat specialists.  W. Marbury Somervell, at the time one of Seattle’s best-known architects, designed this two-story red brick jewel that opened in 1906. Thirty years later, the clinic was moved on rollers down Marion Street to make room for the expanding Swedish Hospital. For this discovery I wish to thank Ron Edge, already noted above, a friend with both zest and talent for eleventh hour research.

From The Seattle Times for January 27, 1936


Here’s a little mystery I found just after snapping the ‘Now’ shot for this feature. Just below the Nordstrom Tower, there is an obstructed view from the sidewalk of a trio of old Corinthian (so they appear to me) pillars, just below the skyway. There are no plaques identifying them and no indication of their former use and location. Dear readers, we invite you to solve the mystery…

Hidden pillars – note the skyway above right…
Close up…

Anything to add, boys?  Yes Jean, and most relevant is the first link, our earlier feature on Swedish Hospital..  May the dear readers open it first.

THEN: This detail from the prolific local photographer Asahel Curtis’s photograph of the Smith/Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue dates from the early twentieth century when motorcars, rolling or parked, were still very rare on the streets of Seattle, including these on First Hill. (Courtesy, Historic Seattle)


THEN: First Hill’s distinguished Old Colony Apartments at 615 Boren Avenue, 1910.

THEN: Faced, in part, with brick veneer and stucco, and opened in 191l, the Comet Apartments at 170 11th Avenue have made it nicely through their first century. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)


THEN: The Perry Apartments is nearly new in “postcard artist” M. L. Oakes look at them south on Boren to where it intersects with Madison Street. (Courtesy John Cooper)

THEN: Constructed in 1890 as the Seattle Fire Department’s first headquarters, these substantial four floors (counting the daylight basement) survived until replaced by Interstate Five in the 1960s. (photo by Frank Shaw)

THEN: Built in 1887, the Minor-Collins Home at the northeast corner of Minor Avenue and Cherry Street was one of the grandest and longest surviving pioneer mansions on First Hill. (Courtesy Historic Seattle)

THEN: Built in the early twentieth century at the northeast corner of Jefferson Street and Boren Avenue, Bertha and Frank Gardner’s residence was large but not a mansion, as were many big homes on First Hill. (Courtesy Washington State Museum, Tacoma)

THEN: At the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Boren Avenue, two of the more ordinary housing stock on First Hill in the 1890s. (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: Sometime around 1890, George Moore, one of Seattle’s most prolific early photographers, recorded this portrait of the home of the architect (and Daniel Boone descendent) William E. Boone. In the recently published second edition of Shaping Seattle Architecture, the book’s editor, UW Professor of Architecture Jeffry Karl Ochsner, sketches William E. Boone’s life and career. Ochsner adds, “Boone was virtually the only pre-1889 Fire Seattle architect who continued to practice at a significant level through the 1890s and into the twentieth-century.” (Courtesy MOHAI)

THEN: A circa 1923 view looks south on Eighth Avenue over Pike Street, at bottom left.


THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.

THEN: The brand new N&K Packard dealership at Belmont and Pike in 1909. Thanks to both antique car expert Fred Cruger for identifying as Packards the cars on show here, and to collector Ron Edge for finding them listed at this corner in a 1909 Post-Intelligencer. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry.)


THEN: Looking west on Madison Street from Seventh Avenue circa 1909. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)

THEN: On his visit to the Smith Tower around 1960, Wade Stevenson recorded the western slope of First Hill showing Harborview Hospital and part of Yesler Terrace at the top between 7th and 9th Avenue but still little development in the two blocks between 7th and 5th Avenues. Soon the Seattle Freeway would create a concrete ditch between 7th and 6th (the curving Avenue that runs left-to-right through the middle of the subject.) Much of the wild and spring fed landscape between 6th and 5th near the bottom of the revealing subject was cleared for parking. (Photo by Wade Stevenson, courtesy of Noel Holley)


THEN: Of the three largest Seattle roofs – the Alki Point Natatorium, a grandstand section of the U.W.’s Denny Field, and the St. James Cathedral dome - that crashed under the weight of the “Northwest Blizzard” in February 1916, the last was the grandest and probably loudest. It fell “with a crashing roar that was heard many blocks distant.” (Courtesy Catholic Archdiocese.)

THEN: Looking across Capitol Hill’s Broadway Avenue during its 1931adjustments. (Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: A half-century after they reached the top of First Hill, electric streets cars and cable cars prepare to leave it. (Courtesy, The Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Revelers pose on the Masonic Temple stage for “A Night in Old Alexandria,” the Seattle Fine Art Societies annual costume ball for 1921. (Pic courtesy of Arthur “Link” Lingenbrink)



















The city from Harborview Hosp.  on May 7, 1956. (This was scanned – with a struggle 0 from one of the three Seattle Now and Then books. (We will look it up later.)




First Hill skyline from Front St. (First Ave.) and Cherry Street in mid-to-late 1870s.   

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s