Seattle Now & Then: An Elks Carnival, 1902

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: An unidentified photographer looks southeast through the intersection of Third Avenue and Union Street during Seattle’s first-ever multi-day summer festival, the Elks 1902 Seattle Street Fair and Carnival. (Courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
NOW: In 1903, a year following the Elks’ fair, the southeast corner of Third Avenue and Union Street was given to the Beaux-Arts construction of Seattle’s Central Post Office. It was demolished in 1958 and replaced with the glass-curtain facility still used today.

The arch standing here at the southeast corner of Union Street and Third Avenue was short-lived, like every other ceremonial ornament contrived for the Seattle Street Fair and Carnival, assembled and produced by the Seattle Elks Lodge for thirteen sunny days in August 1902.  This arch, the only rustic one, was the odd one of four built for the fair. It was a vernacular showpiece with a somewhat exotic shape, covered overall with cedar shakes, making it regional, while wrapping it with electric lights made it modern.

Elks Carnival ticket booth on Union Street, west of 3rd Avenue.

The other three arches, by contrast, were all-white, reminders of the also temporary Beaux Arts architecture of Chicago’s 1893 Columbia Exposition.  The two largest spanned First and Second Avenues widely enough to permit electric trolleys to pass through. With their ornamental splendor, the three classical arches were also unwitting

1902 Elks arch at the intersection James Street and Second Avenue – looking north on Second. Seattle Hotel is on the left and the Collins Building (still standing) is on the right.

premonitions of Seattle’s own World’s Fair, its 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.  One of the three crossed Union Street about a half-block behind – west – of the unnamed photographer.  With two booths asking for the ten-cent admission, it served the fair as the main ticket gate to the fenced celebration.

Elks arch on First Avenue looking south on First..
1902 Elks carnival arch at First Avenue and Columbia, looking east on Columbia.

The dime paid for everything that was spread about on the acres selected from the former University of Washington campus. The off-campus Third Avenue block between Union and University Streets was also lined with booths, and Union Street as well, from

1902 Elks on Third too – looking south on Third Ave. with Union to the back.

the ticket booth east into the old campus that was covered with tents such as the one seen on the far right of this week’s ‘then’ photograph.  And nearly everything was enveloped in strings of electric lights.  The Elks promised that the grounds at night would be “almost as light as day.”  Some of the exotic thrills inside the fenced tents were an “Arabian trainer in a den of lions,” a “cage of leopards,” “Jabour’s Oriental Carnival and Menageries Company,” and “a troupe of 160 Orientals, Turks, Assyrians, Egyptians, East Indians, Japanese,” in addition to “dozens of unusual things.” The Elks fair was also distinguished and promoted by daily parades through the city streets.  One of the attractions was a “ladies band with eighteen pieces.”

Looking east on Union from Third Avenue during the 1902 Elks fair. The Armory stands mid-block, left-of-center.

Although exceptionally civic-minded, the Plymouth Congregational Church, on the far right at University Street, was not inside the fenced fair grounds.  The Armory, the structure with the long roof half-hidden behind the arch, was.  Among its many well-promoted events was a contest in the “pretty booth” with prizes for the prettiest girl and the handsomest boy and also “the largest and fattest baby 16 months old.”  The judge was a local doctor who prudently fled the Armory following the contests.

This particular chubby baby is a laughing hoax and not the prize-winner noted in the text. We known nothing at all about this baby but that we hope its parents fed him both well and less.

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, lodge members?  Yes Jean, and we remain faithful to your designs.  Before putting forward Ron’s links we will add three more illustrations of the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Union Street: from top-to-bottom, the corner cleared, building the Post Office, the modern class-curtain post office proposed by its architects.   Their rendering looks considerably better than the thing itself, however, we recall the Latin aphorism on taste (that we may have misspelled).    “De gustibus non desputandum est. ” or “taste is not debatable” except that is surely is debated.

=====THEN: Looking north from Seneca Street on Third Avenue during its regrade in 1906. (Photo by Lewis Whittelsey, Courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

THEN: Plymouth Congregational Church barely reached maturity – twenty-one years – when it was torn down in 1913 for construction of the equally grand but less prayerful Pantages Theatre, also at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and University Street. (Museum of History & Industry)

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)

THEN: The “then” photo looks southeast across Union Street to the old territorial university campus. It was recorded in the Fall of 1907, briefly before the old park-like campus was transformed into a grand commercial property, whose rents still support the running of the University of Washington. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: A mix of workers, friends and guests pose together on the front porch of Sarah Frances Baker’s hotel at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Marion Street in 1895. Built ten years earlier by Martin and Elisabeth Stacy as their first mansion, the warring couple never lived in it. Used in the early 1890s by the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, followed by Baker and her hotel, the Second Empire styled mansion’s last tenant was the Maison Blanc Restaurant, which was closed by fire in 1960. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry)

THEN: Seattle’s new – in 1910-11 – cluster-ball street lighting standards stand tall in this ca. 191l look north on Third Avenue from Seneca Street. (Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry.)

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Elks parading through Pioneer Square, 1902

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STATE-WIDE ELKS

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