Seattle Now & Then: Cornish School Construction, 1921

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Cornish School under construction in 1921 at its new campus at Harvard Avenue and E. Roy Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: The arts academy’s “purpose-built” home is named Kerry Hall for the philanthropist Mrs. A.S. Kerry, who co-founded the Music and Art Foundation that ran Cornish School as a non-profit.
Cornish, a few years later aka “in the 1920s.”

11th Hour investing in Cornish construction. An adver clip from The Times for March 14, 1921.
Advers from June 30, 1921 include the announcement that the Cornish move off Broadway to Harvard would be delayed but for only a few days.
A clip from The Times for July 10, 1921
Another Times clip from July 10, 1921.
The Times summary of some of the events connected with the school’s dedication.  A Times clip from July 24,1921.
Nellie Cornish

Construction for the new campus of ‘The Cornish School for Drama, Music, Dance’ began on the first day of 1921.  The work was rushed forward so that the school could open early in September, on time for the still young institution’s eighth season.  Perhaps predictably, in late summer agents with homes to sell or apartments to rent in the neighborhood enhanced with this new landmark, began running classifieds for their properties with the message “near Cornish School” in both The Times and The Post-Intelligencer.  That enticing landmark is under construction in this week’s “then,” although its bricks are not yet adorned with the ornamental tiles and stucco skin that still define its Spanish Colonial lines.

Cornish was founded in 1914 on Capitol Hill in the Booth Building at the SE corner of E. Pine and Broadway, less than a mile south of its new campus. (see below)  After a year, in the summer of 1915, it featured two studios, five teachers and eighty pupils.  The growth was impressive. Five years later when the enlarged and relocated academy was being planned and the cash to build it first pursued, the school held twenty-seven studios serving 1,154 pupils, led by twenty-six teachers.  These halls of ivy then sometimes surely resonated with the reflecting sounds of rehearsing students.  (I remember well that joyful, on the whole, noise in the early 1970s when I taught filmmaking to Cornish students, most of whom, like myself, could not afford to make films.)

This school of “allied arts” was founded by its namesake, the confident pedagogue-pianist Nellie Cornish.  As late as the 1970s the often-convivial tone of her directions were still remembered by some as sometimes comedic.  For instance, at one of the Sunset Club’s Masquerades Nellie proved her sense of humor when she won the “funniest costume” award.  Cornish also frequently gave lectures, many of them before the city’s applauded Ladies Musical Club.  (Would that there then had been smart phones with digital recorders.)

The Roy Street entrance to the Women’s Century Club served for about a quarter century as the  popular door into Jim Osteen and Art Bernsstein’s (respectively, left and right), Harvard Exit Theatre.

For the featured photographs at the top both photographers aimed northwest from the fortunately irregular Capitol Hill intersection of E. Roy Street and Harvard Avenue.  Following the Cornish example, this part of the Capitol Hill neighborhood became sophisticatedly snug when joined by the Woman’s Century Club and the Rainier Chapter of the D.A.R. (both built in 1925), and architect Arthur Loveless’s charming Studio Building.  Historylink’s principal founder, Walter Crowley, describes the last in his National Trust Guide to Seattle (1998), as a “delightful mimic” of England’s Cotswold villages.  Crowley notes that to the north and west of this prospect are the admired homes that make this Seattle’s only residential preserve, the Harvard-Belmont Landmark District.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, boys?  For sure Jean, and Ron will start again with some recent* features  and I’ll follow with some scans from older clippings. (*Since we started the blog about  ten  years ago.  Jean will know, but he sleeps.)

 

THEN: The Volunteer Park water tower was completed in 1907 on Capitol Hill’s highest point in aid the water pressure of its service to the often grand homes of its many nearly new neighbors. The jogging corner of E. Prospect Street and 15th Avenue E. is near the bottom of the Oakes postcard. (Historical Photo courtesy Mike Fairley)

THEN: Both the grading on Belmont Avenue and the homes beside it are new in this “gift” to Capitol Hill taken from the family album of Major John Millis. (Courtesy of the Major’s grandchild Walter Millis and his son, a Seattle musician, Robert Millis.)

broadway-widening-1blog

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

Holy Names THEN

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

THEN: Most likely in 1902 Marcus M. Lyter either built or bought his box-style home at the northwest corner of 15th Avenue and Aloha Street. Like many other Capitol Hill addition residences, Lyter's home was somewhat large for its lot.

yesler-way-umpire-day

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)

THEN: We have by three years or four missed the centenary for this distinguished brick pile, the Littlefield Apartments on Capitol Hill. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

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: An early portrait, circa 1911, of The Silvian Apartments, one of Capitol Hill’s abiding architectural jewels. (Courtesy, Bill Burden)

THEN: A carpenter’s jewel with Victorian ornaments recorded by a tax assessor’s photographer in 1936, nestles at 615 Eastlake beside the surviving Jensen Apartments, aka the O’Donnell Building, on the left. (Courtesy Stan Unger)

THEN: The ‘Seattle showplace’ Rhodes mansion on Capitol Hill, ca. 1916. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

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First appeared in Pacific on March 31, 2002

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First printed in The Times on March 3, 2002

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First appeared in Pacific on Sunday January 21, 1990.

One thought on “Seattle Now & Then: Cornish School Construction, 1921”

  1. Nostalgia. Our Daughter Lelia started her ballet career at age 6 (i963) as a student of Karen Irvin at Cornish… While still a teen she went on two European tours, dancing with Lottie Gossler’s Pantomime circus. At age 20 she was a principal dancer with the Dyna Soar Dance Company in Boston. She later taught dance at Hartford Ballet and Yale.

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