Seattle Now & Then: The Swedish Club

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The first “permanent home for the Swedish Club at 1627 Eighth Avenue – between Pine and Olive Streets – was built in 1901-2. After a half-century in Seattle’s greater-retail neighborhood, the Club moved to its abiding home on Dexter Avenue overlooking Lake Union from Queen Anne Hill. (Courtesy, Stan Unger)
NOW: First replaced by another of the neighborhood’s many parking lots, the old home site of the Swedish Club is now reflecting the neighborhood from the glass curtain sides of a Hyatt Hotel.

Swedish Club, west side of 8th Avenue near Olive Street,

I’m pulled into this clutter of storefront commerce and small hotels that extend through about half of the west side of 8th Avenue between Pine and Olive Streets. Photographed in 1938, the year of my nativity, it offers attractions that I remember from my youth first in Grand Forks, North Dakota and then – beginning in 1946 – in Spokane.  Following Locksmith Snyder’s many keys and services, far left, are the 35 cent haircuts available from the Eighth Avenue Barber at 1619 8th Avenue, and Jackson C. Clifford’s Red Front Cigar Store, at 1621.  After that comes the modest front door to the Olive Court Apartments.   There Mrs. Sigrid Fales is in charge, equipped with a telephone.  Most likely, Sigrid was originally from Northern Europe, and as Scandinavian as her nearby neighbors directly across 8th Avenue, the Viking Tavern and Krono Coffee Shop, both at 1622 Eighth Ave.  And next door to Sigrid is her grandest neighbor, The Swedish Club.

The rear of the Swedish Club on July 6, 1924. Broadway High School is on the Capitol Hill horizon, far right. The rear of the Swedish Baptist Church at the northwest corner of Pine and 9th is also on the right but only two blocks distant. (CLICK to ENLARGE)
Looking south down the alley with the Swedish Club and one modern Ford from the 1950s.  A comparison with the earlier photo of the rear – the one sitting on top of this one – will confirm that they are the same although divided by about a quarter-century.   I once owned a Ford like this one – a used one.  
The front of the “old club” approaching its end on Eighth Avenue.  This too has its Ford.

“The Club,” as its many members called it, was the best evidence that downtown Seattle had its own “Snooze Junction” or corner, a variation on Ballard.  From the beginning the Swedish Club was an institutional reminder of the left homeland.  It was a profound and shared nostalgia that ran through its many banquets for fondly remembered traditional gatherings, and its choral concerts, dances, and opportunities for mixing and courting.  Also in a less secular line, neighborhood’s Gethsemane Lutheran, Swedish Baptist, First Covenant, Reformer Presbyterian, and others churches, were all Scandinavian  sourced congregations.

Looking north across Pine Street’s intersection with 8th Avenue. The Swedish Club is down the block and hidden behind hotel on the left. We feature this photo in an earlier Pacific and will interrupted this feature with the clipping.

This detail from a 1925 map includes the Swedish Club on 8th Avenue and a number of other structures that have appears in past features. East is on the top.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

The club was first organized on August 12, 1892 by recently arrived Swedes.  They were young and living in Belltown’s Stockholm Hotel.  It was a name chosen to attract them.  In spite of the economic crash or panic of 1893 and following, the club flourished, largely because there were so many migrating Swedes.  (Migrating Norwegian’s and Danes had their own clubs.)  Using the often generous contributions from members of the burgeoning Swedish community, the Club built its home here on 8th Avenue on its own terms.  Andrew Chilberg, the Seattle-based vice consul for both Sweden and Norway was a charter member and the Club’s first president.  He was also founder of the Scandinavian-American Bank: Seattle’s Scandinavian godfather.  Chilberg bought the property for the Club’s construction and half-century of use.  N.D. Nelson the partner in Frederick and Nelson Department Store, also helped with the club’s financing and first construction, as did Otto Roselead, the contractor for both the Swedish Club and the Swedish Hospital.  The dark brick façade with its ornamental banding and spiral scrolls or volutes, both seen in the feature photo, were soon added to the original frame structure when the neighborhood was regraded.

The Swedish Club in the 1950s.
Looking north on Eighth Avenue through its intersection with Olive Way. A municipal photographer standing on a roof directly across 8th Avenue from the Club recorded this in 1932 for some official reason.

The diverse flips in needs and interests that have understandably followed through the club’s now century and a quarter of service are typical for cultural institutions that have their origins in other hemisphere’s.  It has been long since members were more likely to join classes to learn Swedish than English.  Now sponsored group flights to the homeland are fast and for many affordable.   (Thanks to Club president Christine Leander for lots of help with this.)

The Swedish Club’s new home on Dexter Avenue in 1961. With the lights on and overlooking Lake Union it was designed to perform like a glowing ornament for those across the lake on Capitol Hill.

WEB EXTRAS

In the Hyatt’s glass curtains, from a slightly less oblique angle, we find a reflection of the lovely Camlin Hotel, recently featured in this column:

Camlin cubist reflection

Anything to add, fellahs?  Lots of past but not lost features Jean – all but two are from the neighborhood or near it but one of the two is named Anderson.  Let us hope that our readers CLICK TO ENLARGE.

THEN: The now century-old Norway Hall at the corner of Boren Avenue and Virginia Street opened in 1915, on May 17, Norwegian Independence Day. (Courtesy, Nordic Heritage Museum)

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)

THEN: The Ballard Public Library in 1903-4, and here the Swedish Baptist Church at 9th and Pine, 1904-5, were architect Henderson Ryan’s first large contracts after the 20 year old southerner first reached Seattle in 1898. Later he would also design both the Liberty and Neptune Theatres, the latter still projecting films in the University District. (Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Built in 1910, Ballard’s big brick church on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street lost the top of its soaring tower following the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.

THEN: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.

THEN: Built in the mid-1880s at 1522 7th Avenue, the Anthony family home was part of a building boom developing this north end neighborhood then into a community of clapboards. Here 70 years later it is the lone survivor. (Photo by Robert O. Shaw)

THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill. Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Lawton Gowey looks north through the tail of the 1957 Independence Day Parade on Fourth Avenue as it proceeds south through the intersection with Pike Street. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)

THEN:

THEN: Built quickly in the winter of 1906-07, the Prince Rupert Hotel faced Boren Avenue from the third lot north of Pike Street. About fifty-five years later it was razed for the I-5 Freeway. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: The city’s north end skyline in 1923 looking northwest from the roof of the then new Cambridge Apartments at 9th Avenue and Union Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: The scene looks north through a skyline of steeples toward the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.

Then: Photographed from an upper story of the Ford Factory at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street, the evidence of Seattle's explosive boom years can be seen on every shore of Lake Union, ca. 1920. Courtesy of MOHAI

THEN: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

MINOR-&-THOMAS-P-patch-THEN-mr

9th-&-Union-1937-tax-pix-THEN-mr

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: Named for a lumberman, and still home for the UW’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the upper floor’s high-ceilinged halls, including the Forest Club Room behind Anderson Hall’s grand Gothic windows, were described for us by the department’s gregarious telephone operator as “very popular and Harry Potterish.” (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Tied momentarily to the end of the Union Oil Co dock off Bay Street, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s ship Maud prepares to cast-off for the Arctic Ocean on June 3, 1922. (Courtesy, Ron Edge)

THEN: Through its two decades — 1892 to 1913 — at the northeast corner of Cherry Street and Third Avenue, the Seattle Theatre was one of the classiest Seattle venues for legitimate theater as well as variety/vaudeville

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Around the corner from the club, a flatiron where Howell Street originates out of Olive just east of 8th Avenue. (We did a feature on this long ago but have misplaced the clip. It happens.)

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Nearby El Goucho in 1961 in preparation, flexing its beef for Century 21.

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: The Swedish Club”

  1. Hey, DSL Blogfolk, I’ve really enjoyed your work since John LaMont at Seattle Public Library suggested I try to contact Paul about how I might locate images of the couple of items of mine that appeared in the Helix pages, as well as other activities I was part of back then.

    John also sent me, this week, the first link to the project he and I have been working on over the past four years. I don’t, technically, have the standing, maybe, to say go ahead and download and use anything that you might find relevant to what you’re doing, but since you’re not doing it for money, I doubt that Seattle Public Library would object. The quality of the images, because they were shot on film already “out of date”, and have traveled thousands of hard miles with me over the fifty years since I shot them, isn’t very good. They’ve lost a lot. Some weren’t good to start with. I liked to get stoned and shoot pictures.

    I hope you enjoy some of them as much as I’ve like what you’ve been doing.

    Jack Large Seoul

    Anyway, if you want to download and use something in the blog, give John a call in Special Collections. He’s a fine fellow; he’s also an ace researcher.

    On Sun, Nov 19, 2017 at 5:17 AM, DorpatSherrardLomont wrote:

    > jrsherrard posted: “(click to enlarge photos) I’m pulled into this clutter > of storefront commerce and small hotels that extend through about half of > the west side of 8th Avenue between Pine and Olive Streets. Photographed in > 1938, the year of my nativity, it offer” >

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