All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Jefferson School, 1985

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

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.


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.


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.”


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

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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 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 (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.


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

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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.


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.


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?


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)

Seattle Now & Then: Seward Park, 1903

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: With Bailey Peninsula (later Seward Park) behind them, a trio looks west from the dock of the summer cottage of Tekla Nelson, widow of Nels Nelson (co-founder of downtown’s Frederick & Nelson department store, now Nordstrom), circa 1903, some 13 years before the water level dropped nine feet with the opening of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. On the far side of the dock and house, the water sometimes rose high enough to make the peninsula an island. (Courtesy Marilyn DeWitte and Rainier Valley Historical Society)
NOW: A cyclist skirts two leaders of the Wild Isle in the City project, author-researcher Paul Talbert (book in hand), president of Friends of Seward Park; and photographer-archivist Karen O’Brien (with dog, Buddy, hidden), president of the Rainier Valley Historical Society, as they pose on South Orcas Street near the park entrance. They will present an illustrated talk at 7 p.m. March 10 at Third Place Books, 5041 Wilson Ave. S. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 27, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on March 1, 2020)

The future of a pristine peninsula through the eyes of the city
By Clay Eals

Playing outlaw Butch Cassidy in 1969, Paul Newman nonchalantly expressed one of my favorite movie maxims: “Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.”

Of course, vision pertains as we struggle with today’s urban development maelstrom. But go back more than a century to when much of Seattle’s destiny was uncertain. Take South Seattle’s Bailey Peninsula, not yet known as city-owned Seward Park.

Many, indeed, wanted to take it – city government picturing it as a park in 1892, as did the famed Olmsted Brothers landscape consultants a decade later. Other interests touted it as a golf course, a stockade and a scout camp. It even was pronounced by a nearby land agent to be the “logical” site for our first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. “The majority of the people of Seattle would like this location,” Columbia Realty claimed June 17, 1906, in an ad in The Seattle Times.

The fledgling fair quickly opted for the University of Washington, rejecting “beautiful” Bailey Peninsula as “badly isolated, and there is no positive assurance that the grounds can be had from the private owners.” The Pennsylvania-based Bailey family and owners of other smaller portions of the peninsula held out for a high price, and in 1911, four years after the land was annexed to Seattle, the city stuck to its vision. Leveraging condemnation and court proceedings, the city bought the parcel for a whopping $322,000.

Crucial to the pristine peninsula’s appeal was its size, nearly 200 acres. Instantly it became the city’s largest park. Boosters called it “a wonder of the West.” No surprise, then, that the city named it for statesman William H. Seward.

In 1867, as President Andrew Johnson’s secretary of state, Seward had purchased for the United States (from Russia) the enormous Alaska territory. A white expansionist, Seward drew native criticism near Ketchikan, but his endearment to Seattle grew after the late 1890s when the city exploded as the jumping-off point for the Gold Rush, which lured 100,000 prospectors through Alaskan ports.

Like a thumb penetrating Lake Washington, Seward Park always has embodied unusual geography. In early days during spring runoff, water covered its isthmus, and the peninsula became an island. But when the new Lake Washington Ship Canal dropped the lake level by nine feet in 1916, any future island status evaporated.

From planning to politics, from geology to greenery, emphasizing the beloved park’s diversity of uses and users, its story is told precisely and pictorially in the 336-page coffee-table book Wild Isle in the City: Tales from Seward Park’s First 100 Years, published last fall by Friends of Seward Park. Even read with bifocals, it’s clearly a validation of vision.


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 three additional photos plus 27 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 at the end. Enjoy!

The cover of Wild Isle in the City, which will be the subject of an illustrated talk at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 10, at Third Place Books Seward Park, 5041 Wilson Ave. S.
A 1913 south-facing view of the Nelson cottage, far in the distance. (Seattle Municipal Archives)
A portion of the 1908 Baist Map of Seattle showing then-privately owned Bailey Peninsula. (Courtesy Karen O’Brien)
Sept. 24, 1905, Seattle Times, page 20
May 27, 1906, Seattle Times, page 28
June 5, 1906, Seattle Times, page 4
June 17, 1906, Seattle Times, page 29
June 23, 1906, Seattle Times, page 2
Sept. 28, 1906, Seattle Times, page 10
Feb. 10, 1907, Seattle Times, page 8
April 8, 1909, Seattle Times, page 8
May 2, 1909, Seattle Times, page 14
May 15, 1910, Seattle Times, page 28
June 3, 1911, Seattle Times, page 16
June 4, 1911, Seattle Times, page 6
June 11, 1911, Seattle Times, page 6
Feb. 10, 1912, Seattle Times, page 5
March 3, 1912, Seattle Times, page 72
April 6, 1912, Seattle Times, page 3
Nov. 5, 1912, Seattle Times, page 7
July 13, 1913, Seattle Times, page 11
Aug. 12, 1913, Seattle Times, page 6
Aug. 15, 1915, Seattle Times, page 4
Aug. 22, 1915, Seattle Times, page 4
Sept. 23, 1915, Seattle Times, page 5
Jan. 14, 1917, Seattle Times, page 30
Jan. 28, 1917, Seattle Times, page 32
Oct. 27, 1917, Seattle Times, page 2
Jan. 5, 1919, Seattle Times, page 16
Jan. 5, 1919, Seattle Times, page 21
Nels and Tekla Nelson’s residence was in the Capitol Hill neighborhood best known by its “granite pile,” Broadway High School, seen here behind and to the right of the Nelson home. Most of the residences in this part of Capitol Hill have been replaced by apartments, and Broadway High (most of it) was razed for Seattle Community College.

(This column first appeared in Pacific magazine
of The Seattle Times on March 15, 1992.)

Nelson home on Boylston
By Paul Dorpat

Standing on his front lawn, Charles Whittelsey aimed his camera across Boylston Avenue toward Nels and Tekla Nelson’s home at the northeast comer of Olive and Boylston. The Nelsons’ was the most lavish residence on the block. Nels was C.D. Frederick’s partner in what was one of the Northwest’s largest mercantile establishments: Frederick and Nelson. Whittelsey, an accountant for the city’s water department, photographed this view in 1906.

The city directory lists the Nelsons at their new home at 1704 Boylston in 1901, the year construction began on Seattle High School (Broadway High). Whittelsey’s snapshot includes, behind and right of the Nelson home, a good glimpse of Broadway High’s western stone facade.

Born in Sweden in 1856, Nels Nelson crossed the Atlantic as a teenager. In the years before his arrival in Seattle, he farmed in Illinois, mined for gold and raised livestock in Colorado, and there met C.D. Frederick.  In 1891 Nelson visited Frederick in Seattle and stayed as his partner. The following year Nelson helped found the local Swedish Club and in 1895 he married Tekla, another Swedish immigrant.

Nelson was C.D. Frederick’s second partner. J.G. Mecham, his first, left their then still-mostly-used-furniture store soon after Nelson arrived with his $5,000 raised in Colorado on cattle. The three, however, remained friends. After Nelson died in 1907 on the Atlantic while returning from an unsuccessful attempt to renew his health at a Bavarian spa, Mecham remembered him as “truly one of God’s noblemen. With his passing I lost a valued friend.”

The Nelsons had three sons, but no grandchildren by them. In 1913 Tekla married Daniel Johanson, another Swedish immigrant, a mining engineer, fish wholesaler and ship builder. They lived in the Boylston home until Daniel died in 1919. Daniel and Tekla had two children of their own, Sylvia and Tekla Linnea, and ultimately one grandchild, Marilyn DeWitte, a Kirkland resident.

Seattle Now & Then: All roads lead to Roadhouse at Fall City, mid-1930s

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: About to cross the Snoqualmie River and cruising northbound on U.S. Highway 10 past the Riverside Tavern is a 1934 Ford Model 40 Deluxe Tudor Sedan, according to our auto informant, Bob Carney. An eye-catching corner sign advertises Alpine Ice Cream, produced by Alpine Dairy, formerly Northwestern Milk Condensing Co. and Issaquah Creamery and later part of the Darigold Cooperative. (Fall City Historical Society)
THEN2: A multi-pointed sign depicts mileage to various locales from Fall City, adjacent to the two-floor Riverside Inn, in this photo published July 23, 1950, in The Seattle Times. Room prices at the Riverside started at $1.25, and meals at 50 cents.
NOW: Braving the snowy chill of mid-January are (from left) Donna Driver-Kummen and Sheryl Gibler of the Fall City Historical Society, with Cynthia Heyamoto and John Manning, owners of The Roadhouse Restaurant and Inn. The two worked there a half-dozen years before partnering to buy the business. Says John: “We’re passionate about food, we’re people persons, it’s a historic building, and out here you’re really not that far from anything. It was a no-brainer.” (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 13, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Feb. 16, 2020)

In riverside Fall City, all roads lead to The Roadhouse
By Clay Eals

What comes to mind with the word “roadhouse”? For me, the answer is cinematic – the scenes of Madonna and others in the 1992 film “A League of Their Own” dancing raucously to a big band in a World War II-era saloon called the Suds Bucket. For others, the term may summon the 1990-1991 and 2017 episodes of TV’s mystery/horror series “Twin Peaks,” set partly at a seedy rural outpost known as The Roadhouse.

In either incarnation, a roadhouse bore a smear of the unsavory, given that an isolated establishment along a country highway could produce experiences as fleeting as the travelers it served.

Such may have been true at times for the business depicted in our 1930s “Then,” the Riverside Tavern, built between 1916 and 1920 (accounts vary). It perched in Fall City along the Snoqualmie River and U.S. Highway 10, better known as the cross-state Sunset Highway in the decades before Interstate 90 bypassed the burg 2 miles south.

But as ownerships changed and the Riverside gained a second floor (mid-1930s), morphed to the Colonial Inn (1966) and evolved with an extensive renovation (2008) to the name it bears today, The Roadhouse Restaurant and Inn, it became a community hub. Known for fine food and likeable lodging, it primarily serves locals and the surrounding, increasingly suburban cities fueled by our region’s tech boom. (It doesn’t hurt that the “Twin Peaks” producers filmed exteriors at this very spot.)

It stands near a unique crossroads, what might be called a double-Y intersection that straddles the river and leads motorists to nearby Preston, Redmond, Carnation and Snoqualmie. A 1950 Seattle Times photo depicts a multi-pointed sign outside the building denoting mileage to those Eastside destinations as well as to Seattle (25), Ellensburg (87) and Spokane (270).

Fall City itself possesses a curious nomenclature. The hamlet of 2,000 never formally incorporated, and while it sits less than 3 miles downstream from Snoqualmie Falls, its name may have nothing to do with that spectacular cascade. Robert Hitchman, writing for the Washington State Historical Society in 1985, asserts that the name derived from a fellow named Fall who started a ferry nearby in the 1870s.

Ruth Pickering

The 14-year-old Fall City Historical Society, led by the indefatigable Ruth Pickering, keeps track of this ambiguity while shepherding a searchable online collection and producing a stuffed slate of events and projects, including 520-page and 350-page history books and an annual calendar.

Though the historical society operates from the second floor of Fall City United Methodist Church, fittingly its most prominent display of photos and artifacts can be found inside – you guessed it – The Roadhouse.


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.

Here is video about The Roadhouse Restaurant and Inn:

VIDEO: John Manning and (briefly) Cynthia Heyamoto, co-owners of The Roadhouse Restaurant and Inn in Fall City, tell the story of their business. (8:32)

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

Riverside Tavern, circa 1930. (Fall City Historical Society)
Colonial Inn, post-1966. (Fall City Historical Society)
Feb. 11, 1950, Seattle Times, page 2
July 23, 1950, Seattle Times, page 77

More glass-neg images from Tom Reese

Tom Reese identifies this as Portland, Oregon. See the caption for his waterfront detail below. (Courtesy Tom Reese)


Bonus round — three more glass-neg images
By Clay Eals

Remember last week’s post with 15 unidentified glass-negative images submitted by Tom Reese, former longtime photographer for The Seattle Times, who bought the negatives from the Antique Mall of West Seattle?

Many of you commented with clues to when and where the photos were taken.

To further the discussion Tom has scanned three more glass negs from the same batch, and they appear here, with captions supplied by Tom. Please add further comments. It’s possible that one or more of these could become the basis of a future “Now & Then” column!

This is a detail of the Portland, Oregon, waterfront depicted in the uncropped scan at top. Says Tom, “The side-wheel paddle steamboat T. J. Potter looks to be in its original state, before remodeling in 1910, and since it’s still in Portland that probably means it’s in its first years after going into service, 1888 or so. Wikipedia says it moved to Puget Sound after running the Columbia River. Looks like the remains are on a beach near Astoria.” (Courtesy Tom Reese)
Says Tom: “Another Northwest-looking town.” (Courtesy Tom Reese)
Says Tom: “Absolutely no idea. What an immense building. European? The figure at the top looks like a soldier hoisting a rifle.” (Courtesy Tom Reese)