All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: West Seattle drawbridges, 1978

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THEN: Rerouted westbound traffic clogs the 1930 West Seattle drawbridge during the afternoon rush hour of Monday, June 12, 1978, some 36 hours after the freighter Antonio Chavez rammed its companion 1924 span (right) and stuck it upward and beyond repair. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald, courtesy Robinson Newspapers)
NOW: The West Seattle Bridge dwarfs the approach (right) to the low-level West Seattle swing bridge, which opened in 1991, replacing the 1930 drawbridge that had remained after the ramming of its companion. When closing the high bridge, the city reserved the low bridge for transit, freight, bicycles and emergency vehicles. The electronic sign on the bus reads, “Essential trips only.” (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 21, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 24, 2020)

For West Seattle’s bridge, if at first you don’t succeed, secede!
By Clay Eals

Sounds screwy, but having reported on it when it was built, I still call it the new bridge:

  • The busy West Seattle Bridge, until recently second in city traffic only to Interstate 5.
  • The span swooping 157 feet over the Duwamish Waterway that linked a massive peninsula with the rest of Seattle.
  • The arch that elevated West Seattle to hipness from relative obscurity, ensnaring the district in a citywide development boom.
  • The towering roadway that opened not that long ago – can it really be 36 years?

And now, to protect the public, it’s been closed since March 23 for incalculable, indeterminate repairs. Not to reopen until 2022, if at all.

Coping with the coronavirus and now possessing only a circuitous way out, West Seattle could be said to be on double lockdown. It’s a fine time to reflect on a dramatic juncture from 1978 that makes today’s bridge turmoil seem like Yogi Berra’s “déjà vu all over again.”

After years of scandals and broken city promises to build a high bridge to replace two run-down but frequently opening, traffic-clogging drawbridges built in 1924 and 1930, the peninsula’s civic leaders were fed up. On March 29, 1978, a who’s who of West Seattle launched a campaign to secede from Seattle.

Though some thought it a joke, it had a straight-faced rationale: A separate West Seattle would become the state’s fourth largest city, with stronger status to secure money for a high bridge to connect with top dog Seattle. Secession required citywide balloting, including by those outside of West Seattle not anxious to shed a hefty tax base. But the secession campaign, said chair Dick Kennedy, was “deadly serious.”

Quickly, petitions filled with signatures approaching half the number to force a secession vote, when at 2:58 a.m. Sunday, June 11, an enormous freighter rammed the east end of the opened 1924 drawbridge, freezing it upward and beyond repair. The culprit was the now-legendary three-minute “lack of concentration” of 80-year-old pilot Rolf Neslund, who, bizarrely, later was murdered by his wife.

The ramming produced the best pun in West Seattle history: “the night the ship hit the span.” The immediate result – eight lanes of traffic squashed into four on the remaining, functioning 1930 low bridge – is depicted in our “Then” photo.

Officials leapt into action. Warren Magnuson, our longtime U.S. senator, secured $110 million for a freeway-like high bridge. Other jurisdictions chipped in lesser amounts. Secession fizzled. Construction began in November 1980. Eastbound lanes opened in November 1983, westbound lanes in July 1984.

Fast living, however, takes a toll. The high span was to last 75 years but hasn’t made it halfway. How long before the city builds another new bridge?

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are two video links and four additional photos as well as 14 clippings, mostly from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge history, 15:19. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
VIDEO: “Bridging the Gap” panel discussion featuring former Mayor Charles Royer, Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen and others, July 14, 2014, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the opening of the high-level West Seattle Bridge, moderated by Clay Eals, 1:41:18. (Southwest Seattle Historical Society)
The first pour on footings for the new, high-level West Seattle Bridge, early 1980s. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
An ironworker climbs a pier of the high-level West Seattle Bridge under construction in the early 1980s. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
A fisheye view of removal of the the rammed, stuck-open 1924 span of the low-level Spokane Street Bridge, early 1980s. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
The 1924 span of the Spokane Street Bridge soon after the June 11, 1978, ramming stuck it open. The recently opened Kingdome is seen in the background. (Greg Carter, West Seattle Herald)
July 11, 1936, Seattle Times, page 21
March 29, 1978, Seattle Times, page 1
April 5, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
April 16, 1978, Seattle Times, page 27
April 18, 1978, Seattle Times, page 18
April 19, 1978, Seattle Times, page 51
April 22, 1978, Seattle Times, page 1
April 27, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
June 12, 1978, Seattle Times, page 1
June 12, 1978, Seattle Times, page 3
June 24, 1978, Seattle Times, page 13
July 6, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
Sept. 4, 1978, Seattle Times, page 15
Dec. 17, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14
April 20, 1983, West Seattle Herald/White Center News, photos by Peggy Peattie, story by Clay Eals, page 3
Clay Eals (left), reporting for West Seattle Herald and White Center News, and Bob Rudman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer, stand inside the east end of the under-construction, high-level West Seattle Bridge on April 7, 1983. The gap shown in the photo is 65 feet. It was joined on July 13, 1983. (Peggy Peattie, West Seattle Herald)
With reporting clipboard stuffed in his jacket, Clay Eals (right), then editor of the West Seattle Herald and White Center News, looks south with his dad, Henry Eals, in the gusty winds atop the high-level West Seattle Bridge on Nov. 10, 1983, the day its eastbound lanes opened. (Peggy Peattie, West Seattle Herald/White Center News)

 

 

Mount St. Helens erupts: The 40th anniversary!

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The cover of the May 17, 2020, PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times

We are fortunate that the editors of PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times asked us to prepare a cover-story package for the magazine’s print edition scheduled for Sunday, May 17, 2020, one day prior to the 40th anniversary of the mountain’s May 18, 1980, eruption.

Below are links to what we came up with. We hope you enjoy it all.

We also invite you to use the comment section to send us your own St. Helens stories and photos!

— Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

1. The Cover Story
  • “Love, Loss & a Lodge: Rob Smith and Kathy Paulson continue to feel the aftershocks — and the awe — of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens”
2. The Sidebar
  • “The Grateful Dead song ‘Fire on the Mountain’ shakes Rob Smith — and Portland”
3. The Backstory
  • “Forty years later, the stories of St. Helens unearth the wonder and dread of a lifetime”
4. Forty stories for the 40th
  • Most of these stories originated via the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, thanks to interpretive specialist Alysa Adams. They are edited by us and  are presented in alphabetical order.

Seattle Now & Then: Suess & Smith Art Glass, 1906

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THEN1: Smith descendant Curt Green photographed this immense Suess & Smith three-panel window in about 1980 when it hung at the Frye Hotel. Its whereabouts are elusive. When was it made? Does it depict a real-life scene? If you have clues, please enter them below! (Curt Green)
THEN2: Workers at Suess & Smith look eastward outside their storefront at 2421 Western Ave. in about 1906. The firm’s move to Virginia Street near Westlake Avenue in 1909 came none too soon, as an eight-block fire on June 10, 1910, destroyed this building, including next-door Wall Street House, causing a total of $500,000 in damage. No one died. (Courtesy Curt Green)
NOW: Grouped across Western Avenue from the Belltown Apartments, where Suess & Smith Co. once stood, are (from left) Suess descendants Gloria Elda Suess Abbenhouse, Martin Suess Abbenhouse, Susan Marks and Keetje Abbenhuis, and Smith descendants Sebastian Schaad, Barbara Schaad-Lamphere, Theo Schaad, Deborah Riedesel, Paula Green, Curt Green, Jessica Murphy and David Green. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 7, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 10, 2020)

Help us solve the mystery of this Suess & Smith masterwork
By Clay Eals

This week, we present a puzzle. It centers on a national innovator in aesthetic glass that brightened downtown Seattle more than a century ago.

The glitter of the Gold Rush lured members of two German families, named Suess and Smith, to Seattle from Chicago in the late 1890s. But physical gold was not their destiny. Their Klondike expedition produced meager earnings, so in boomtown Seattle they marched to a different shimmer.

During the height of the international Art Nouveau movement, Suess & Smith Co. opened in 1901 on Western Avenue near Wall Street (in today’s Belltown), specializing in leaded, cut and stained glass. Soon it branched into plate and window glass for major buildings as well as memorial windows, lampshades, mirrors and “glass of all descriptions.” The business morphed in October 1906 to Suess Art Glass Co. and moved to Virginia Street near Westlake Avenue in fall 1909.

The firm’s display at that year’s Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington campus drew acclaim from The Coast magazine as “one of the most attractive and interesting art exhibits upon the grounds, appealing to the truly artistic and demonstrating the high grade and excellence of the home product of a Seattle industry.”

Three years later, for the city’s second Golden Potlatch industrial parade, the company mounted an all-glass, award-winning float with an impact “never before seen in this country,” reported The Seattle Times. “Had the sun been shining as brilliantly as it did a few days before, it would have been almost impossible for anyone standing in the direct rays to withstand the brilliancy of the different prismatic effects from the reflection of lights on this float.”

Inspirational commissions abounded, from a triple window depicting recently slain President William McKinley for a Bremerton church in 1902 to the gleaming cupola for The Coliseum theater (today’s Banana Republic store) in 1916. The enterprise continued until at least 1951.

Cover of “Suess Ornamental Glass” by Deborah Suess Weaver, 2019.

Today, descendants have dug into the genealogical and commercial history of both families. This work produced a book, “Suess Ornamental Glass: Chicago~Seattle,” by Deborah Suess Weaver of Tonasket. On the Smith side, Theo Schaad of West Seattle also has written a lengthy narrative.

Here’s the puzzle: The families seek details about a Suess & Smith stained-glass masterwork they feel deserves public display. It’s a gold-hued, 7-by-10-foot, three-panel piece (see top of page) depicting a couple in what might be a Bavarian courtyard. It once hung at the Frye Hotel at Second and Yesler. Clues to its whereabouts lead to Skagway, Alaska, “Gateway to the Klondike,” but the coronavirus might limit access there for now.

Might you, kind readers, have information or insight to keep this inquiry aglow?

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column, when it is posted Thursday afternoon!

As a special treat courtesy of the Fall City Historical Society, we present a complete scan, in three parts, of the 80-page sales book “Ornamental Glass: Suess Ornamental Glass Company, Chicago, Illinois” (1904). You can access the three parts here:

Also, see this link to a Fall City Historical Society brief on that town’s Neighbor-Bennett House, which features Suess glasswork.

Below are nine additional photos as well as 31 clippings, mostly from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

To read more about Suess & Smith, click here. And to order Deborah Weaver’s, “Suess Ornamental Glass: Chicago~Seattle,” click here.

An alternate Suess & Smith exterior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Suess & Smith interior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Suess & Smith interior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Suess & Smith interior, 1906. (Courtesy Curt Green)
Feb. 7, 1902, Seattle Times, page 12
May 13, 1902, Seattle Times, page 7
June 15, 1902, Seattle Times, page 31
Aug. 7, 1903, Seattle Times, page 4
Sept. 5, 1904, Seattle Times, page 12
July 9, 1906, Seattle Times, page 13
Sept. 10, 1907, Seattle Times, page 14
Dec. 1, 1907, Seattle Times, page 35
Aug. 21, 1908, Seattle Times, page 3
March 11, 1909, Seattle Times, page 11
March 11, 1910, Seattle Times, page 27
April 28, 1910, Seattle Times, page 3

June 11, 1910, Seattle Times, page 8
June 11, 1910, Seattle Times, page 8
June 12, 1910, Seattle Times, page 1
Aug. 21, 1910, Seattle Times, page 39

 

Jan. 18, 1911, Seattle Times, page 19
Aug. 2, 1911, Seattle Times, page 9
July 1, 1912, Seattle Times, page 11
July 21, 1912, Seattle Times, page 20
Sept. 19, 1915, Seattle Times, page 11
Sept. 26, 1915, Seattle Times, page 9
Jan. 2, 1916, Seattle Times, page 23
May 6, 1917, Seattle Times, page 11
July 1, 1917, Seattle Times, page 10
Dec. 9, 1917, Seattle Times, page 59
Dec. 16, 1917, Seattle Times, page 63
October 1909, The Coast magazine, describing Suess & Smith exhibit at Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
From 1910 onward, Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver and Ron Edge)
1915, Suess Art Glass (Seattle Municipal Archives, courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
November 2015, Fall City Historical Society newsletter (Courtesy Fall City Historical Society, Deborah Suess Weaver)
Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)
Suess Art Glass (Courtesy Deborah Suess Weaver)

Seattle Now & Then: Jefferson School, 1985

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THEN: The pre-demolition photo event on June 1, 1985, at Jefferson Elementary School drew 175 students, three teachers and a secretary. After separate photos were taken for each decade of the school’s 1911-1979 existence, 130 former Jeffersonians – including Lisa McCandless Bernardez, Karen Arthur White and Myra Bowen Skubitz – stayed to assemble for this final image. (Brad Garrison, West Seattle Herald / Courtesy Robinson Newspapers)
NOW: Vehicles and shoppers clog the entry parking lot for Jefferson Square, opened in August 1987 on the former school site. Retail anchors are Safeway (right) and Bartell Drug. From Seattle Public Schools, the complex holds a 99-year lease that began in December 1982. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 30, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 3, 2020)

Jefferson school days echo in the May memories of its students
By Clay Eals

In our coronaviral days of school closures and social distancing and with May Day here, this week’s “Then” image might be poignant. It depicts 130 people posing for a group photo at West Seattle’s Jefferson Elementary School on Saturday, June 1, 1985, just 17 days before it fell victim to the wrecking ball.

As editor of the West Seattle Herald, I organized the gathering to document the passing of a building in which thousands of students spent formative years, from its opening in 1911 until 1979, when plummeting enrollment and soaring renovation costs sealed its fate.

The former Jefferson students and staff who turned out faced 42nd Avenue while our fearless photographer, Brad Garrison, perched atop an 8-foot wooden stepladder to capture the scene. The print’s upper edge is irregular because, for effect, the photo ran large on the front page, extending up into the newspaper’s nameplate.

The school, named for our third president, designed by Edgar Blair and built one block east of West Seattle’s Junction business district, had an enduring effect of its own – on its students.

“We bleed Jefferson,” says Lisa McCandless Bernardez, who attended in the mid-1970s. Every five years since, she has reunited with her best friend, Jefferson classmate Sue Haynie Craig, at the salad bar inside the Safeway anchoring the full-block complex that replaced the school and opened in August 1987.

“It was a great, mysterious, humongous school,” Bernardez says. “When they tore it down, it broke our hearts.”

Some recall the edifice’s crowded baby-boom classrooms (nearly 1,000 students in 1953-1954), wooden desks and worn stairs, along with the “old smell you never forget.” Others cite civil defense (atomic bomb) drills and sneaking into the basement to discover long-abandoned rations and body tags.

Students also exploited the neighborhood’s business milieu to create meandering walking routes. Wayne Hagler, who attended in the late 1960s, says, “We’d go through the showroom of Gene Fiedler Chevrolet, then Lucky’s grocery, then the auto-parts store to get STP stickers, so a 20-minute walk home took 45 minutes.”

Most wish Jefferson could have been preserved and repurposed as were schools in Queen Anne, Wallingford and elsewhere. But the latter-day impact of its 33-year-old substitute, Jefferson Square, is undeniable. The five-level structure serves thousands of customers, workers and residents via retail storefronts (80,000 square feet), offices (67,000 square feet) and residential space (78 apartments).

Nevertheless, lingering today in the memories of Myra Bowen Skubitz, who attended in the mid-1940s, and Karen Arthur White who attended 10 years later, is Jefferson’s annual spring jamboree. It brought every student in the school to its enormous asphalt playground for dancing with streamers around a maypole and other fun. One can still imagine.

WEB EXTRAS

Below are two more memories of former Jefferson Elementary School students, 11 Jefferson-related photos and 16 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

At the bottom is an official three-page history of the school from Seattle Public Schools Archives.

Also, here is where you can find the Facebook page for Jefferson Elementary School alumni.

Robert Terrana. uncle of Lisa McCandless Bernardez who attended in the 1940s during World War II, recalls air-raid drills. ” We had to go down to the basement floor under the first floor. We had to stay there until they rang the bells when it was safe to go upstairs.” He also recalls the “nice, big, wide playground.” He recalls walking to school in the snow. “We had some big snowstorms, more than we have now. Winter used to be winter.” A lifelong West Seattleite, he will be 85 in August. “I used to be in some of the little skits they used to put on for the children in the auditorium. … When they had the March of Dimes campaign in January, they had those tables at California Avenue and Alaska, and I used to volunteer with that, helping with the announcing: ‘Give to March of Dimes. Put your dimes on the table.’ That was probably in sixth grade.”

John Carlson, longtime talk-show host for KVI, attended kindergarten and first grade in the 1960s. “I brought my copy of the album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ to Show and Tell, but (kindergarten teacher) Mrs. Price said it was inappropriate. The following week I brought my collection of troll-sized Beatles dolls, pointing out that they were dolls, not Beatles toys. Mrs. Price was not impressed with my logic and said that if I brought any more Beatles memorabilia to class, it would be confiscated. Loved those days.”

April 24, 1949, Seattle Times, page 94
During the 1951-1952 school year, Jefferson students gather, looking south, with Gene Fiedler Chevrolet in the background. (Courtesy Les Bretthauer)
May 18, 1955, Seattle Times, page 36
An aerial photo from 1957 showing Jefferson Elementary School in the foreground. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
Feb. 22, 1961, Seattle Times, page 2, John J. Reddin column
Oct. 23, 1964, Seattle Times, page 14
June 11, 1969, Seattle Times, page 79, ad for Lucky’s across from Jefferson Elementary School
Dec. 31, 1969, Seattle Times, page 28, ad for Gene Fiedler Chevrolet across from Jefferson Elementary School
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 1 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 2 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 3 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
1971-1972 Jefferson Elementary School yearbook, page 4 (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
June 6, 1972, Jefferson Elementary School audio-visual certificate for Wayne Hagler (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
June 12, 1972, Jefferson Elementary School crossing-guard certificate for Wayne Hagler (Courtesy Wayne Hagler)
Aug. 10, 1972, Seattle Times, page 28
Oct. 1, 1972, Seattle Times, page 4
Feb. 15, 1973, Seattle Times, page 59
march 10, 1973, Seattle Times, page 5
March 22, 1973, Seattle Times, page 52
Sept. 6, 1978, Seattle Times, page 3
March 9, 1979, Seattle Times, page 9
March 22, 1979, Seattle Times, page 14
Aug. 14, 1979, Seattle Times, page 13
June 6, 1985, West Seattle Herald, listing of participants in final group photos (Photos by Brad Garrison)
In June 1985, when demolition of Jefferson Elementary School began. (Grace Fredeen)
In 1985, Lisa McCandless (left) and Sue Haynie stand in front of partially demolished Jefferson Elementary School. (Courtesy Lisa McCandless Bernardez)
In 1990, Lisa McCandless (left) and Sue Haynie reunite at Safeway on the site of former Jefferson Elementary School. (Courtesy Lisa McCandless Bernardez)
On May 2, 2020, former Jefferson students Lisa McCandless Bernardez(left) and Sue Haynie Craig display artifacts from Jefferson school while visiting Jefferson Square on May 2, 2020. (Courtesy Lisa McCandless Bernardez)
Jefferson Elementary School chapter of “Building for Learning / Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, page 1 (Courtesy Seattle Public Schools Archives)
Jefferson Elementary School chapter of “Building for Learning / Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, page 2 (Courtesy Seattle Public Schools Archives)
Jefferson Elementary School chapter of “Building for Learning / Seattle Public School Histories, 1862-2000, page 3 (Courtesy Seattle Public Schools Archives)

 

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle Yacht Club clubhouse, 1926

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THEN: Sixty women and three children, dressed in finery to greet Queen Marie of Romania, pose Nov. 4, 1926, along the west side of the then-six-year-old clubhouse of the Seattle Yacht Club. The hunch of our auto informant, Bob Carney, is that at left, the touring car in front is a 1924 or 1925 Cadillac, and the car behind it is a 1925 or 1926 Lincoln. For more info on the clubhouse and its centennial, visit the website of Seattle Yacht Club. (Museum of History & Industry, courtesy Seattle Yacht Club)
NOW: The Seattle Yacht Club high-school sailing team, representing the club of the future (and backed by staff who keep the club humming), approximate the pose of their 1926 predecessors. Major changes since 1920 to the clubhouse and grounds, officially landmarked by the city in 2006, include enlarged windows (1946) and an expanded dining room (1967) at right. The photo looks more directly east than the “Then” image because the tree at left would obscure a more accurate repeat. Here’s who is in the photo: The high-school sailing team (front, from left): Matteo Horvat, Alex Shemwell, Ryan Milne, Anna Lindberg, Blake Weld, Taylor Burck, Aurora Kreyche, Isabel Souza, Caroline Schmale, Andy Roedel, Filippa Cable, Alvaro De Lucas and Alden Arnold. Staff (back, from left): Jose Cadena, Devon Cannon, sailing coach Cameron Hoard, Lynn Lawrence, Jorge Vallejo, Annee King, Carlos Sagastume, Jody Tapsak, Chef Alex Garcia, Mason Pollock, Natalia Ruiz-Jiminez, Kevin Martinez-Jara, Coner Hannum, Jenne Lawrence, Alicia Kern, Geoffrey Moore, Quang-Ngoc Tran, Shyheem Mitchell, Ellen Beardsley, Anthony Navarro, Juan Abrego-Hernandez, D’Andre Miller, Tiffiney Jones, Benjamin St. Clair, Jade Lennstrom, Jeremy Witham, general manager Amy Shaftel, Josie Weiss, Mike Young and Penny Slade.

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 23, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on April 26, 2020)

Yacht club’s 1926 Montlake reception had a crowning touch
By Clay Eals

Royalty fueled the roar of the 1920s in Seattle on Nov. 4, 1926. That day, the city welcomed a woman whom The Seattle Times called the “most beautiful and gracious of all Europe’s feminine monarchs,” Queen Marie.

For the 51-year-old regal representative of Romania (then spelled Rumania), Seattle was but one destination on a cross-country tour. Accompanied in an open touring car by our first female mayor, Bertha Landes, the queen zipped through an afternoon of stops initially intended for a full day.

Queen Marie in 1926. (British Pathe)

She drew record crowds, and the city delighted her: “In all the towns I have visited, I have found none so beautiful as your Seattle. In each corner today, I have found a place where I should like to live.”

The fitting finale was the home of the Seattle Yacht Club. Its clubhouse, perched on Portage Bay, south of the University of Washington and north of today’s Highway 520, had opened six years earlier, on May 1, 1920. For a reception put on by “club women of the city” to honor the queen, the building burst with autumn blooms, its veranda rails draped in dahlias.

Only 200 of the 1,500 assembled women could greet Marie, however, because what was to be a one-hour stay lasted “scarcely more than 15 minutes.” This did not prevent 60 women – bonneted, like the queen – from posing outside with three youngsters, as our “Then” photo shows.

It’s no accident that a lighthouse-shaped cupola topped the clubhouse, which The Times called “the finest on the Coast and one of the finest in the United States.” Famed architect John Graham, Sr., certainly intended for the Colonial Revival/Shingle Style structure to complement the recently opened Lake Washington Ship Canal, including nearby Montlake Cut, which connected Portage Bay to the lake.

The parcel, formerly marshland and a landfill for the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at the UW campus, became available for the club’s purchase after a casino proposed for the site fizzled. The club deemed the calm, freshwater setting a buoyant change from the rough weather, railroad noise, oil dumping and swells of passing steamboats that its boaters and craft had endured at saltwater bases on Elliott Bay and along the West Seattle shore since its founding in 1892.

Today, with 2,800 member families and myriad programs for all ages, Seattle Yacht Club is the oldest and largest such local organization.

The coronavirus scuttled its traditionally sponsored early-May merriment for Opening Day, but the club optimistically has rescheduled an elaborate celebration of its clubhouse centennial for Sept. 26. Sailing and motor vessels from the 1920s are to be on display, including one that participated on Opening Day in 1920.

One might envision the pending party as fit for a queen.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column, when it is posted!

Below are a “Now” identifier photo and two other photos as well as 11 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

And at the bottom, see a book excerpt relating to Queen Marie’s visit to the Seattle Yacht Club clubhouse on Nov. 4, 1926!

Here is an identifier photo for the “Now” photo above.
Early clubhouse of Seattle Yacht Club at Duwamish Head in West Seattle, built in 1892. (Courtesy Seattle Yacht Club)
Early clubhouse of Seattle Yacht Club and Elliott Bay Yacht Club in West Seattle, 1909. (Courtesy Seattle Yacht Club)
April 25, 1920, Seattle Times, page 62
May 3, 1920, Seattle Times, page 13
Oct. 12, 1926, Seattle Times, page 13
Nov. 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 1
Nov. 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 7
Nov. 4, 1926, Seattle Times, page 1
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 11
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 12, mainbar excerpt
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 12, sidebar
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 12
Nov. 5, 1926, Seattle Times, page 13
Nov. 6, 1926, Seattle Times, page 5
Excerpt from “On Tour with Queen Marie” (Robert M. McBride & Co, New York, March 1927), by Constance Lily Rothschild Morris, who accompanied Queen Marie on her tour of the United States and Canada in 1926. It is not known if the tree referenced here is the tree shown at left in our “Now” photo above. (Courtesy Mike Young)

Seattle Now & Then: Kubota Garden, 1930s

THEN: In this view looking northwest in Fujitaro Kubota’s garden in the 1930s, Kubota stands at far left as four visitors are reflected in a pond while posing at the Heart Bridge. This is one of 175 vintage and contemporary images in the new book “Spirited Stone,” sponsored by the Kubota Garden Foundation. (Courtesy Kubota Garden Foundation)
NOW: Assembling on the Heart Bridge of Kubota Garden, for 33 years a city park, are (from left) Aubrey Unemori, book publisher Bruce Rutledge, Anna Carragee, Marjorie Lamarre and Jason Wirth, all representing the Kubota Garden Foundation, along with Renton’s Michelle Risinger and children Mari, Rylan and Charleston. To stay current on book and film events, visit the website of the Kubota Garden Foundation. (Jean Sherrard)

 

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 16, 2020)

Discovering a healing heart for nature at Kubota Garden
By Clay Eals

With Earth Day now seemingly every day, symbolism abounds in Kubota Garden. This 20-acre park near Seattle’s southern city limits showcases a calming mix of greenery, stone and water, all buoyed by an early enhancement, the Heart Bridge. And in this uncertain era, more than ever we need heart.

Soon after officials invoked social distancing to slow the coronavirus, I wandered the garden’s vast and meandering paths. Beckoning with bright red railings was the diminutive bridge.

The garden’s founder, Fujitaro Kubota (1880-1973), who left Japan for America in 1907, installed the span a few years after acquiring the tract’s first five acres in 1927. It bolsters the entire park’s role as a refuge for contemplation, healing and renewal.

Its range of trees, pools and meadows is complemented by a bronze entry gate, ornamental wall, hanging bell, stone lantern and interlaced waterfalls, blending Japanese and American styles of landscaping. One can instantly internalize the careful combination of art and nature.

The peace it engenders was no effortless ethos to create, given that Kubota, with thousands of other stateside Japanese during World War II, was shunted into three years of incarceration at Minidoka, Idaho. There, the headstrong horticulturalist coped by leading the camp’s beautification. Post-war, he wept for hours when encountering his overgrown Seattle garden and struggled with back taxes, but he pushed on.

Naturalized in 1955, Kubota shaped public spaces of the Rainier Club, Seattle University and Bainbridge Island’s Bloedel Preserve as well as the grounds of countless residences.

The garden in South Seattle, however, was Kubota’s magnum opus. He didn’t live to see its splendor triumph over a 480-unit condo development scheme to become an official city landmark (1980) and city park (1987). But he maintained vision and a desire to share.

“Every rock and every key plant have a meaning,” he told The Seattle Times in imperfect English at age 82 in 1962. “I wish to leave in this ‘beautiful’ and ‘artistic.’ ”

That’s evident in a new, 230-page coffee-table book, “Spirited Stone: Lessons from Kubota’s Garden,” with evocative essays and photos from 20 contributors. Infused with earthly humanity, the book is a stirring backgrounder for experienced visitors. For the uninitiated, it’s a lavish entree to Kubota’s story.

As expressed by Linda Kubota Byrd in a companion documentary, her grandfather embodied “an overarching spirit and a testament to the power of holding an intention.” In the same film, Bellevue landscape architect Don Shimono says Kubota devoted himself to working with nature, not against it.

“It seems like this whole planet is man trying to conquer nature,” Shimono adds, “and there’s no way nature is going to be conquered. Nature is going to have the last word.”

WEB EXTRAS

Seattle’s Jim Rupp, of the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild, observes that in our “Then” photo, “The fellow standing next to the seated woman (presumably his wife) is Dr. Henry Gowen, longtime UW professor for whom Gowen Hall is named.” That this is Gowen is bolstered by a photo of Gowen from the Museum of History and Industry, Rupp says.

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are the cover of “Spirited Stone,” a map of Kubota Garden and 18 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The cover of “Spirited Stone: Lessons from Kubota’s Garden”
The blue arrow on this map of Kubota Garden (upper center, #15) shows the location of the Heart Bridge.
June 24, 1924, Seattle Times, page 20
July 7, 1931, Seattle Times, page 22
Dec. 24, 1931, Seattle Times, page 18
March 6, 1955, Seattle Times, page 95
Sept. 23, 1956, Seattle Times, page 170
Nov. 4, 1962, Seattle Times, page 21
Dec. 6, 1968, Seattle Times, page 24
Nov. 12, 1972, Seattle Times, page 90
Feb. 7, 1973, Seattle Times, page 83
March 23, 1975, Seattle Times, page 12
Aug. 10, 1980, Seattle Times, page 126
Dec. 16, 1981, Seattle Times, page 45
Jan. 21, 1982, Seattle Times, page 74
March 30, 1983, Seattle Times, page 67
Nov. 18, 1986, Seattle Times, page E1
Sept. 3, 1987, Seattle Times, page 81
Oct. 20, 1989, Seattle Times, page C8
April 1, 2018, Seattle Times, pages 76-77

 

Seattle Now & Then: High Point in West Seattle, 1942

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: With the northern end of West Seattle and just a hint of downtown as a backdrop on a cloudy day, workers busily construct the High Point Defense Housing Project in March 1942. Visible at upper left are the Holy Rosary Church bell tower and Charlestown Street water tank. Be sure to double-click this photo to reveal a constellation of details. And see below for the makes and years of 15 vehicles depicted. (Museum of History and Industry)
NOW: From a vantage about a block north of our “Then” photo, the downtown skyline shines as the colorful dwellings of redeveloped High Point anchor this panorama. The fine details of both images can be best appreciated when enlarged online at seattletimes.com. For info on Tom Phillips’ book, click here. And same as with the “Then” photo, double-clicking this one will reveal incredible details. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 9, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on April 12, 2020)

Creating a new neighborhood with an old name: High Point
By Clay Eals

Seattle’s most elevated vista is not well-known Queen Anne, Magnolia or Capitol Hill. At 512 feet, it’s West Seattle’s High Point. The name bespeaks lofty aspirations.

It surfaced in the April 11, 1926, Seattle Times: “High Point, so named because of the commanding position it occupies, will be the next fine residence addition to go on the market here … and will be one of the most sightly subdivisions in that part of West Seattle.”

Indeed, the potential was high for the mid-peninsula plats just north of the “summit.” But ravages of the Great Depression soon intervened.

Prompted by late-1930s New Deal money, the state created the Seattle Housing Authority, which snapped up big parcels, including High Point, to aid the downtrodden. It wasn’t easy, as the agency’s charge drew flak from those viewing public housing and integration as “socialism.”

With war looming, however, the feds redirected funds to bolster defense, so the barracks-style housing built in 1942 at High Point became home to a surge of Boeing and shipyard workers.

High Point reverted to the original mission in 1953 and for the next 50 years served 15,000 racially diverse low-income families.

By the 1990s, wracked by civic inattention and growing crime, the deteriorated units merited federal help aimed at “severely distressed” areas, and in 2004 razing began on the High Point of old.

Rising in its place over the last 15 years has been a novel neighborhood. Its kaleidoscope of green features includes an unusual park, a bee garden and a large pond to go with a new library branch, health clinic, senior complex and community center. Moreover, the project intersperses 854 market-rate dwellings with 675 low-income rentals.

Tom Phillips, author of “High Point: The Inside Story of Seattle’s First Green Mixed-Income Neighborhood” To reach Tom, you can email him at tomjphillips@msn.com. (Clay Eals)

The transformation was so profound that Tom Phillips wrote a book. Phillips, who spent his childhood in Mount Baker, shepherded the redevelopment for the housing authority – a “dream job” after Peace Corps and VISTA stints and work in urban planning and community organizing,

“I was given 120 acres – to plan it and build it,” he says. “It’s a lifetime opportunity that nobody ever gets, and it’s not out in the suburbs. It’s in the city I grew up in.”

His book, “High Point: The Inside Story of Seattle’s First Green, Mixed-Income Neighborhood,” reveals the project’s sometimes bumpy ride to fruition, including missteps that cost the “food desert” of nearby 35th Avenue a supermarket. But it also celebrates renewed life and an invigorated reputation for a district whose name has proclaimed optimism for the past century.

WEB EXTRAS

Our automotive informant Bob Carney identifies 15 of the 21 vehicles in our “Then” photo: (from left) 1940 GMC panel truck, 1933-34 Plymouth, 1930-31 Ford Model A, 1937 Ford sedan, unknown, 1939 Chevrolet; in cluster of five: in back on right 1928-29 Ford Model A, in foreground 1941 Dodge sedan, the other three unknown; 1938-39 Ford pickup, 1936 Hudson, 1941 light-colored Ford coupe, 1928 Chevrolet, 1939 light-colored Plymouth sedan, the next three unknown, in foreground 1936-37 Hudson sedan.

Below are a book cover, an additional photo and two vintage maps, all relating to this week’s column.

Also, you will find 18 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The cover of Tom Phillips’ new book. Click here for more info.
Another view of High Point shortly after 1942. (Courtesy Tom Phillips)
A plat of the High Point housing development on Feb. 29, 1928, before it became a federally funded housing project. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
A fire-alarm plan for the High Point project from June 28, 1944. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
April 11, 1926, Seattle Times, page 77
Oct. 16, 1941, Seattle Times, page 37
Dec. 23, 1941, Seattle Times, page 16
Jan. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 9
Jan. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 20
March 20, 1942, Seattle Times, page 32
April 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 2
May 28, 1942, Seattle Times, page 8
July 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 10
Nov. 24, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4
May 11, 1943, Seattle Times, page 9
May 11, 1943, Seattle Times, page 16
Aug. 17, 1943, Seattle Times, page 4
Nov. 24, 1943, Seattle Times, page 7
Jan. 2, 1944, Seattle Times, page 9
Jan. 2, 1944, Seattle Times, page 10
June 14, 1944, Seattle Times, page 13
May 11, 1950, Seattle Times, page 15
March 25, 1979, Seattle Times, page 155
May 4, 1982, Seattle Times, page 56

Seattle Now & Then: The influenza pandemic, 1918

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Seattle bon vivant and amateur photographer Max Loudon took this photo featuring his beloved Indian Motorcycle during the 1918 pandemic. His sister Grace Loudon McAdams, second from the right, perches side saddle amidst masked friends on a Third Avenue sidewalk half a block south of Washington Street. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: A lone Seattleite walks her dog along a nearly-deserted Third Avenue. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on April 2, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on April 5, 2020)

A deadly flu kept Seattle indoors and in masks in 1918
By Jean Sherrard

“I had a little bird and its name was Enza.
I opened the window and in-flew-Enza.”

In the fall of 1918, this was not just a nursery rhyme. The worldwide influenza pandemic was quite real – and lethal.

It blew into Washington state on a perfect storm. Percolating in the wet, filthy trenches of World War 1, this mutated H1N1 strain infected weary soldiers, and in the war’s waning months, it circled the globe. At U.S. military bases, deaths from pneumonia multiplied, alarmingly within days, even hours, of the onset of symptoms. Unlike past flus, the most vulnerable were young and healthy.

In mid-September, Camp (now Fort) Lewis and Bremerton’s naval facilities reported their first cases of flu. So on Oct. 5, Seattle’s mayor, Ole Hanson, and commissioner of health, Dr. J. S. McBride, ordered the immediate closure of schools, churches, theaters, dance halls and “every place of indoor public assemblage … to check the spread of disease.”

Frank Cooper, school superintendent, pronounced the closures “hysterical” and “senseless,” while children applauded the unexpected vacation. Outside City Hall, a young boy demanded of Hanson, “Are you the guy that closed the schools?” Hanson admitted that he was. “Well,” said the lad, “I’m for you!”

To many, the closures seemed draconian. Deprived of entertainment, recreation and indoor religion (although St. James Cathedral and First Presbyterian Church held open-air services throughout rainy October), Seattleites derided the closures. “An awful day for husbands and wives,” the Post-Intelligencer huffed. “Both had to either remain at home or walk the streets.”

Druggists peddled a plethora of snake-oil cures, from Coronoleum and Septol Spray to Bark-la’s Gargle and Gude’s Pepto-Mangan (“the Red Blood Builder”).

The Red Cross distributed 250,000 six-ply linen masks, and public transit became off-limits to the open-faced. (“Wear the mask or walk,” proclaimed Hanson.) Taking advantage of the anonymity, a few masked crooks staged stickups and burglaries.

As contagion swelled, public complaints evaporated as newspapers listed sobering daily death tolls of men and women in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

On Nov. 11, Armistice Day, “perfectly sunny weather” was forecast. After five weeks of gloom and isolation, Seattle was primed for a celebration. “In [an] ecstasy of joy at ending the world’s worst war,” reported The Seattle Times, “it grew from nothing into cheering thousands.” Masks were shucked and “instead of handkerchiefs … waved from windows and doorways by cheering spectators.”

The next day, the closures were revoked. “All places of public assembly” reopened, though masks were still de rigueur.

Before the virus ran its course in 1919, a third of the world’s population had been infected, resulting in 50-100 million deaths, including nearly 5,000 Washingtonians.

By springtime, it could be said, out flew Enza.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Jean, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

And there’s more!

THEN: Max Loudon’s 2nd photo of his motorcycle posers unmasked!

Also below is an alternate “Now & Then” photo pair on the same topic. Enjoy!

THEN: On Oct 29, 1918, the noon shift of Police Chief J.F. Warren’s “Influenza Squad” emerges from police headquarters in the Public Safety Building (now the Yesler Building), in this easterly view up Terrace Street. The force was charged with cracking down on public spitting (a $5 fine), enforcing the wearing of masks and dispersing crowds. Warren himself was infected early on but recovered. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: Two mask-free Seattleites bravely cross the intersection of Terrace Street and Yesler Way. (Jean Sherrard)

March 25, 2007, Seattle Times, Paul Dorpat’s “Now & Then” column about the 1918 flu.

 

 

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: ASUW Shell House 1936

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Posing in front of the Shell House doors are “The Boys in the Boat” (from left): Don Hume, Joe Rantz, George “Shorty” Hunt, Jim “Stub” McMillin, John White, Gordy Adam, Chuck Day and Roger Morris, with (front) coxswain Bobby Moch. This image may become more iconic if, as forecast by MGM, a Hollywood film directed by George Clooney commemorates the “Boys” story. (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, UW2234)
NOW: (Also see identifier photo below.) Family of “The Boys in the Boat” and of famed shell-maker George Pocock and coach Al Ulbrickson pose Feb. 25, 2020, outside the ASUW Shell House. The ramp from the Shell House to Lake Washington extends only a handful of yards, so with the hardiness of an oarsman, Jean Sherrard shed his socks and shoes, rolled his pants to his knees and waded into near-freezing water to secure this wide shot depicting the full girth of the building. Descendants posing between the oars, approximating the positions of their ancestors in the “Then” photo, are (from left) Jennifer Huffman, Judy Willman and Fred Rantz, granddaughter, daughter and son, respectively, of rower Joe Rantz; Nicci Burrell, granddaughter of rower George Hunt; Colby White, John White, Loren White and Colby White Jr., son, great-grandson, great-grandson and grandson, respectively, of rower John White; Jeff Day, Kris Day, John Day, children of rower Chuck Day; Joseph and Susan Hanshaw, son-in-law and daughter of rower Roger Morris; (front, from left) Marilynn Moch, Maya Sackett and BJ Cummings, daughter, great-grandchild and granddaughter, respectively, of coxswain Bobby Moch. Other descendants are (far left) Lindsay and A.K. Ulbrickson, great-grandchildren of coach Al Ulbrickson; (right rear, from left) Alvin Ulbrickson III and Rinda Ulbrickson, grandchildren of coach Al Ulbrickson; Ray Willman, son-in-law of rower Joe Rantz; (right front, from left) Nathan Pocock, Jim and Beth Pocock, Sue Pocock-Saul, Dave and Katie Kusske, great-grand nephew, grand nephew and grand niece-in-law, granddaughter, grandson-in-law and granddaughter, respectively, of famed shell-builder George Pocock; and Chris Eckmann, grandson of athletic director Ray Eckmann. (Jean Sherrard)

 

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 26, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on March 29, 2020)

The rowing ‘home’ that launched a repudiation of pre-war Hitler

By Clay Eals

Imposing outside, cavernous inside, yet somehow out of sight – that’s the ASUW Shell House.

Tucked behind tall trees near Husky Stadium at the end of a secluded hairpin lane, it anchors a bucolic scene that faces Lake Washington’s shore. Bordering State Route 520, pell-mell traffic and frequent construction near the intersection of Montlake and Pacific, the Shell House is mainly hidden. The most likely way to notice it has been from the water.

That’s changing, given the publishing phenomenon of “The Boys in the Boat.” Since Daniel James Brown’s bestselling book burst on the national scene in 2013, the now-102-year-old barn-shaped structure, named for the University of Washington student government, has garnered acclaim for having launched a breathtakingly implausible feat.

From this ex-World War I naval seaplane hangar, an unassuming nine-member UW men’s crew from then-backwoods Seattle trained in 1936 on Montlake Cut, won a berth in the Summer Olympics in Berlin, overcame illness and intimidation and snared a gold medal, embarrassing an overconfident Adolf Hitler and uplifting a Depression-saddled, pre-war America.

In an era when speedy, synchronized rowers roused wide fascination, this true-life David and Goliath story became a race against the concept of a master race, providing potent symbolism for the ages.

Today, the Shell House is redolent with a legacy as intense as the swelter of its famous “Boys.” They’re all gone, but the senses of their descendants swell as they enter this local and national landmark.

Jeff Day, son of oarsman Chuck Day (in position #2 on the 1936 team), gets wide-eyed as he surveys the rafters, “I imagine these guys yelling and shouting and carrying the boats out with all the energy that they had. This building was hearing all of that energy. This is the building.”

Likewise, the Shell House makes the hair on Judy Willman’s neck stand on end. For her father, Joe Rantz (#7 in 1936), “this was a home, a place to come to, a place he could be, a place to be safe and a place where he could trust again.” Abandoned as a child in Sequim, her father found crew at the UW “and got the trust back.”

UW rowers now toil from newer headquarters to the north, so the Shell House is largely empty. But the university, represented by buoyant Nicole Klein, is mounting a drive to preserve and restore it as an inspiring waterfront venue to last, as the slogan goes, “the next 100 years.” The campaign is $2 million toward its $13 million goal.

Because of the descendants’ passion, not to mention Seattle’s affection for all things connected to the water, the Shell House soon may, so to speak, come out of its shell.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Below are several clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Also below is an identifier photo for our “Now” image plus other “Then” images, some with “Now” counterparts. There also is a trio of bonuses at the bottom — a photo of barefoot Jean Sherrard taking the “Now” photo, a 2002 Paul Dorpat column featuring the Shell House, and a link to a recent story indicating that George Clooney will direct a film version of “The Boys in the Boat” for MGM.

(10:30 p.m. Thursday, March 26, 2020: I’ve added one more “extra,” a photo collage courtesy of a good friend from my Mercer Island High School class of 1969, Bob Ewing, plus a related clipping mentioning Bob’s dad’s name. They’re at the very bottom. Enjoy! –Clay)

April 5, 1936, Seattle Times, page 20
July 26, 1936, Seattle Times, page 12
Aug. 13, 1936, Seattle Times, page 8
Aug. 14, 1936, Seattle Times, page 1
Aug. 14, 1936, Seattle Times, page 14
Identifier photo for the “Now” image at the top of the column. (Jean Sherrard)
Early planes are parked in late 1918 or early 1919 in the Shell House during the short time it served as a hangar. (Courtesy University of Washington)
Female rowers at the University of Washington pose with oars in the 1920s. (Courtesy of University of Washington)
Legendary shell maker George Pocock works in 1922 or 1923 in his upstairs shop in the Shell House. (Courtesy of University of Washington)
An unfinished shell rests in upstairs shop at the Shell House in 1924. (Courtesy University of Washington)
Shell maker George Pocock works on May 15, 1938, in his upstairs shop at the Shell House. (Seattle Times archives, courtesy of University of Washington)
Family of George Pocock pose Feb. 25, 2020, inside the Shell House (from left): Katie Kusske, grandaughter; Dave Kusske, grandson-in-law; Sue Pocock-Saul, granddaughter; Nathan Pocock, great-grandnephew; Beth Pocock, grandniece-in-law; and Jim Pocock, grandnephew. (Jean Sherrard)
Family of George Pocock pose Feb. 25, 2020, in Pocock’s upstairs shop at the Shell House (from left): Dave Kusske, grandson-in-law; Katie Kusske, grandaughter; Nathan Pocock, great-grandnephew; Beth Pocock, grandniece-in-law; and Jim Pocock, grandnephew. (Jean Sherrard)
Children of rower Chuck Day — (from left) Jeff Day, Kris Day and John Day — pose before a standee that shows 1936 rowers Chuck Day (left) and Roger Morris. (Jean Sherrard)
Sportswriter George Varnell walks the ribbed apron of the Shell House in the 1920s. (Courtesy University of Washington)
Katherine Varnell Dunn, great-granddaughter of George Varnell, approximates the pose and position of her sportswriter ancestor. (Jean Sherrard)
Aug. 20, 1936, Seattle Times, page 22
The Montlake Cut in 1936, the year the University of Washington crew won a gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games. (Seattle Municipal Archives, courtesy University of Washington)
Future coach Al Ulbrickson as a University of Washington student rower, 1924. Notice his name, “Al,” on the oar handle.(Courtesy University of Washington)
A.K. Ulbrickson, great-grandson of coach Al Ulbrickson, repeats his ancestor’s pose on Feb. 25, 2020. (Jean Sherrard)
A.K. Ulbrickson adds a smile to his pose. (Jean Sherrard)
Coach Al Ulbrickson on Feb. 19, 1941. (Courtesy University of Washington)
Lindsay Ulbrickson, great-granddaughter of coach Al Ulbrickson approximates the pose of her ancestor outside the Shell House on Montlake Cut on Feb. 25, 2020. (Jean Sherrard)
Lindsay Ulbrickson speaks into the megaphone toward Montlake Cut on Feb. 25, 2020. (Jean Sherrard)
Card commemorating the football career of Ray Eckmann, later University of Washington athletic director. (Courtesy University of Washington)
Plaque at ASUW Shell House (Clay Eals)
Shell House campaign poster. For more info, contact Nicole Klein. (Courtesy University of Washington)
Standing in near-freezing water on the ramp of the Shell House, barefoot Jean Sherrard photographs family of rowers and associates on Feb. 25, 2020. (Clay Eals)
July 7, 2002, “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat features the Shell House.
Click the photo of George Clooney to read about his plan to direct a film version of “The Boys in the Boat” for MGM.

Oct. 6, 1935, Seattle Times, page 25

 

Seattle Now & Then: National Archives and Records Administration on Sand Point Way, 1960

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Behind chain-link fence and west of Sand Point Way from an undeveloped bluff at Northeast 61st Street stands the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) building circa 1960, three years before its dedication. It was built in 1946 as an airplane-parts hangar for nearby Sand Point Naval Air Station. Rising above the structure is the Hawthorne Hills neighborhood. (Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration)
NOW: Standing on a deck across Sand Point Way from NARA Seattle are Peter Jackson (left), son of the late U.S. Sen. Henry Jackson, and KIRO Radio journalist and Columbia magazine editor Feliks Banel, who broke the news about the proposed property sale on Jan. 15. Jackson says, “Let’s hope there’s a happy coda to this story.” (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 12, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on March 15, 2020)

If our historical records aren’t here anymore, do they still exist?

“Public access to government records strengthens democracy by allowing Americans to claim their rights of citizenship, hold their government accountable and understand their history.” – from the mission statement of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

By Clay Eals

If we can’t readily put our hands on something, does it have a purpose?

The question fits the proposed demise of the 1946 federal warehouse that for 57 years has had a sole and distinguished use, as the NARA repository for the Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii and (starting in 2014) Alaska. Our revered former U.S. senators, Warren “Maggie” Magnuson and Henry “Scoop” Jackson, helped dedicate it in 1963.

With a rectangular footprint on 10 acres, the former airplane-parts hangar stands on the farmland of Japanese who were relocated and incarcerated during World War II. It’s tucked along abandoned rail track, now Burke-Gilman Trail, west of Sand Point Way, north of Children’s Hospital and south of the ex-naval air station that is Magnuson Park.

Executing a 2016 law enabling speedy land disposal, the Public Buildings Reform Board last fall targeted the Seattle archive (which is operated by the National Archives and Records Administration) and 11 other sites nationwide to sell off. Why? The parcels are high-value and “underutilized.” Nearly 1,000 people visited NARA Seattle to dig up info last year, which might belie such jargon.

The building is hardly charming, and its deferred maintenance is estimated in the millions of dollars.

What counts is inside – some 800,000 cubic feet of boxed records, 17% of which are permanent and stored in secured, climate-controlled chambers. More significant is what public and agency access to the records would look like if, as proposed, these boxes are shipped at no small expense to federal records centers in Kansas City or Riverside, California (near Los Angeles).

No wonder many historians, news outlets, genealogists, plus eight U.S. senators from four Northwest states, eight of our state’s House members and our state’s attorney general are aghast. Particularly egregious would be the effect on 272 native tribes as well as other non-white groups whose stories are captured in Bureau of Indian Affairs documents and immigration interrogation and photo files.

Notice of the plan was scant at best. It came to light nine days before a supposedly final decision on Jan. 24, but opposition is intensifying. Tellingly, none of the other 11 targeted sale sites is a NARA archive, and none, says Adam Bodner of the Public Buildings Reform Board, is generating dissent.

The situation triggers questions both practical and rhetorical: How many could travel 1,200 or 1,900 miles from Seattle to research their past? Would the NARA sale have gained traction in the days of Scoop and Maggie? Will protests alter the outcome? Is there a question that history cannot answer?

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard‘s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect and compare it with the “Then” photo, and to hear this column read aloud by Clay Eals, check out our Seattle Now & Then 360 version of the column!

Our automotive informant Bob Carney provides us with the years and makes of the cars in our “Then” photo: In the foreground is a 1956 Ford Fairlane. In the background are (from left) a 1956 Chevrolet, a 1949-1952 Chevrolet sedan delivery, a 1959 Ford station wagon and a 1948-1953 Chevrolet pickup.

Below are 10 links to related articles, an additional photo plus seven clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column. There’s also a bonus as the bottom. Enjoy!

Advisory panel recommends putting 12 high-value federal properties up for sale

Federal panel recommends closure and sale of Seattle National Archives facility

The latest from the Public Buildings Reform Board

Seattle Times column by Trish Hackett Nicola, Jan. 24, 2020

Seattle Times story by Eric Lacitis, Jan. 25, 2020

Seattle Times follow-up story by Eric Lacitis, Feb. 12, 2020

Seattle Times follow-up story by Eric Lacitis, Feb. 26, 2020

Seattle Times editorial, Jan. 31, 2020

Seattle Times editorial, March 8, 2020

International Examiner story by Chetanya Robinson, Feb. 4, 2020

Here’s an alternate “Now”: Peter Jackson (left), son of the late U.S. Sen. Henry Jackson, and KIRO Radio journalist and Columbia magazine editor Feliks Banel, stand at the entrance to NARA Seattle. (Jean Sherrard)
Protesters at a Feb. 11, 2020, demonstration at NARA Seattle sought retention of Native American records at the Sand Point facility. (Jean Sherrard)
Protesters at a Feb. 11, 2020, demonstration at NARA Seattle sought retention of Native American records at the Sand Point facility. (Jean Sherrard)
Covering the Feb. 11, 2020, demonstration at NARA Seattle was Feliks Banel (extending microphone) of KIRO Radio, who broke the story about the proposed sale of the facility. (Jean Sherrard)
Also covering the Feb. 11, 2020, demonstration at NARA Seattle was (right) historian Knute Berger of Crosscut. (Jean Sherrard)
Aug. 26, 1945, Seattle Times, page 8
May 25, 1958, Seattle Times, page 137
Aug. 24, 1958, Seattle Times, page 78
Sept. 1, 1963, Seattle Times, page 72
Nov. 17, 1963, Seattle Times, page 17
Aug. 31, 1969, Seattle Times, page 89
Aug. 31, 1969, Seattle Times, page 90
Feb. 26, 1980, Seattle Times, page 1
A quote from former President Thomas Jefferson that hangs inside NARA Seattle. (Clay Eals)