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(click to enlarge photos)
The first photograph of Lake Union recorded from Denny Hill was one of the many shots the famous itinerant Californian photographer Carlton Watkins made during his visit to Puget Sound in 1882. In spite of building an elevated platform on top of the hill to help him see and shoot the lake, only a glimpse of it is seen through a forest both selectively cut for the best lumber but also ravaged by a wind storm that flattened many of the trees on Denny Hill in 1879.
This Sunday’s feature (at the top) , was photographed in the early 1890s, looks north from Denny Hill to a Lake Union landscape dappled by a mix of virgin timber and pioneer construction. The Western Lumber Mill, the lake’s largest development, can be seen smoking at the south end of the lake. Built in the early 1880s, the mill escaped Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889 and overnight became the city’s principal supplier of the lumber that rebuilt what was already the largest town in Washington Territory.
In his caption on top at lower-left, photographer Frank LaRoche includes the name of his intended subject where he positioned his camera, and the address of his studio. With the help of other photographs, maps, and directories, it is possible to determine within a shout where LaRoche set up. The best clue to LaRoche’s location is the Gothic one, right-of-center: the Norwegian Danish Baptist Church
at the northeast corner of Virginia Street and 6th Ave. The city’s Sanborn Real Estate Map for 1893 gives footprints for the city’s structures, including the church and the homes to this side of the Baptists. From these footprints we may deduce that LaRoche was overlooking Fourth Avenue to the east. While behind him, gleaned from other sources, early construction proceeds on the 400-room grand Victorian hotel, The Denny named for the city’s principle pioneer founder Arthur Denny.
On the evidence of another photograph, taken about 1904 by Asahel Curtis from nearly the same spot, but higher, possibly from a ledge or window in the Denny Hotel looking east over Fourth Avenue, the considerably more developed neighborhood sits in a late afternoon shadow cast by the hotel. In three years the hotel
would be razed, along with much of Denny Hill. By the result of another regrade that straightened Westlake Avenue between the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Pike Street as far as Denny Way in 1906-7, the Baptist’s tidy sanctuary, threatened by public works pruning, was sold to George J. Hodge, a developer who razed the Gothic landmark. Hodge paid the congregation more than $7,000 for their exposed corner. Some of the largesse was used to build a new sanctuary near Denny Way and Yale Avenue, which I remember from the 1960s, in its last incarnation, as the BFD a pop music palace that sometimes featured psychedelic rock and roll.
Anything to add, lads? Because you asked.