(click to enlarge photos)
During the last year of World War Two, Margaret Pitcairn Strachan, a Seattle Times contributor, made a wise choice for a weekly serial subject. She named it “Seattle’s Pioneer Mansions and some of the events they saw.” It was an illustrated weekly feature with copy inches about five times longer than this one. The author interviewed many of the surviving pioneers – most often their children – and the families often held cherishes photographs, which they shared with Strachan.
One of my earliest mentors; Lawton Gowey, the Seattle organist, historian, and collector of Seattle historical ephemera, first introduced me to Strachan’s series letting me take his perfectly preserved collection home to my copy stand. Thru my now 37 years of writing this feature for PacificNW Magazine, I have used many of the 52 features Strachan researched, wrote, and illustrated for The Times. The series began on September 3, 1944. The Times’ front-page headline that Sunday was encouraging. It reads “Germans In Disorderly Retreat as 2 Yank Forces Enter Belgium.”
Strachan’s last feature on mansions appeared on August 26, 1945. By her study of the then surviving array of Seattle’s historic homes – and their stories – Margaret Pitcairn Strachan (“Peg”) has made a profound and lasting contribution to our understanding of Seattle History. Our readers would be correct to conclude that both Jean and I strongly urge them to seek-out the Strachan originals (all 52 of them) with the help of the Seattle Public Library’s copy of The Seattle Times Archives. (If you have a library card, a Seattle Public Librarian can lead you in its use both on line and over the phone. If you have no card now is a good time to get one.)
The small mansion nestled here in a copse of its own maples was built in the early 1870s at the northwest corner of James Street and Third Avenue by one of Seattle’s truly powerful pioneer couples: Bailey and Barbetta Gatzert. The couple’s plan to follow the move of Seattle’s more affluent citizens up First Hill to newer and larger mansions was abandoned. By the year this photograph was taken shortly before the Third Avenue regrade in 1906 Bailey had died in1893. Babetta then built a retreat on the east shore of Lake Washington and called it Lucerne after the Swiss lake that she and Bailey admired (In this Alpine line they also raised Seattle’s first Saint Bernard). At the turn of the century the Gatzert home was converted into shops. A row of them running north on Third Avenue from the corner with James Street is easily seen here. (The print has a metropolitan French name “Bloc de Lyon,” lower-left corner, because the major investors in the Gatzert block were French citizens.)
The accomplishments, businesses and charities, of the Gatzerts were so extensive that we will list a share of them here over the next day or so.
Anything to add, fellas?
Potpourri of past N&T features