All posts by Clay Eals

Seattle Now & Then: Skyline from Magnolia, 1962 or shortly after

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THEN: Taken during — or not long after — the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, this postcard view depicts a calmer waterfront and a downtown skyline of mostly midrise buildings. (Union Pacific Railroad, Clay Eals Collection)
NOW: Afternoon “magic light” illuminates the Seattle skyline, shown from Ursula Judkins Viewpoint Park near the top of the Magnolia Bridge. Dominating the foreground are the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 86 Grain Facility, completed in 1970, and the northern waterfront greenery of Centennial and Myrtle Edwards parks. The new Expedia headquarters peeks out at left, below the Space Needle. (Jean Sherrard)

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

What shines and what’s hidden? It’s all in the game
By Clay Eals

It’s a game I play with others while on a Bainbridge or Bremerton ferry or at West Seattle’s Hamilton Viewpoint Park down the street from my home: “Do you have a favorite building in the downtown skyline?”

I have my own answer at the ready. “It’s easy,” I say with a smile. “It’s the building without which I would not be possible.”

And it figures near the center of our “Then,” a pastel-tinged postcard image that looks southeast from Magnolia on a bright afternoon during the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair or shortly thereafter.

It’s the Terminal Sales Building, the stately, large-windowed, 11-floor Seattle landmark at First and Virginia, seen here mostly from its north side, left of the shaded Seattle Tower.

Designed by Henry Bittman and built in 1923, the Terminal Sales Building is where my dad, Henry Eals, arrived in 1947, from Kentucky by way of Los Angeles, to work as a clothing salesman. His office was on the 10th floor. Soon he met Virginia Slate, a West Seattle lass who worked in a dishware shop on the first floor. The two married in 1950, and a year later I was … made possible.

Also possible is a different game essential to “Now & Then” that Paul Dorpat, originator of this column, likens to “hide and seek.” It’s to discern what in the “Then” appears in the “Now” and what is hidden.

Still in full salute are both skylines’ famous bookends – the Space Needle, in original colors, and the Smith Tower, the pointed sentinel that stood as the tallest building on the West Coast from its completion in 1914 until erection of the Needle in 1962.

Among many hidden edifices in our “Now” are the Terminal Sales Building and Seattle Tower, plus most of the snow-bare Cascade Range. Scores of skyscrapers take their place.

Of course, the angle of a photo and the lens with which it is taken can affect what is visible. For example, in our “Now,” with a slightly different vantage and focal length from our “Then,” the brown Pacific Medical Center (Amazon’s early home) at the northern tip of Beacon Hill at far right is tucked closer to the Smith Tower. Yet it’s also a tad south in relation to its Cascade backdrop.

The top edge of our “Now” is a little higher to accommodate – what else, these days? – a crane atop the under-construction Rainier Square Tower, now Seattle’s second tallest building, fewer than 100 feet shy of the crowning, 937-foot Columbia Center to its right.

Providing solace for our game is a “Then” seaplane cruising north for an eventual landing at Lake Union – a charming reminder that a few things never seem to change.

WEB EXTRAS

P.S. We are grateful that Seattle Times reader Charles Gundersen identifies the ship in the foreground of this “Then” image, thus providing a clue that the photo was taken in 1965 or shortly thereafter:

“The ship looks like a C4-S-1sa Mariner Class cargo ship. It could be either SS Canada Mail or SS Oregon Mail. These ships were laid down in 1963 and delivered to the American Mail Line in 1965. So the ‘Then’ picture was probably taken in or shortly after 1965. You can clearly see the American Mail Line stack insignia. My father shipped out on SS Canada Mail as Second Mate (the ship’s navigator) in 1965 and 1966. I have several photos (taken off the
internet) of SS Canada Mail that show the superstructure, stack and upper mast works that look very similar to those features shown in your ‘Now & Then’ picture.”

Below are four recent photos related to the Terminal Sales Building and the Seattle Tower.

The majestic entry of the Terminal Sales Building, Sept. 16, 2018. (Clay Eals)
Clay Eals poses below the Terminal Sales Building (upper left) on Feb. 2, 2019, when the public was allowed to walk on the closed (and later demolished) Alaskan Way Viaduct. (Jean Sherrard)

An added note from Clay on the Terminal Sales Building:

“As a child, I accompanied my dad on weekends to the Terminal Sales Building when he had moved his office to the sixth floor, then to a larger one on the fourth floor. I had the run of the building (racing him downstairs, he riding the elevator and I running the stairs) and of downtown (favorite spots included the Security Market, the basement bookstore next to the Town movie theater and the Trick & Puzzle shop on First Avenue).”

Clay Eals and daughter Karey Bacon, visiting from Philadelphia, in front of Terminal Sales Building at First and Virginia, Nov. 22, 2019. (Meg Eals)
The majestic entry of the Seattle Tower, Sept. 13, 2018. (Clay Eals)
BONUS: Inspired by the panorama above, Harold Musolf Jr. of Bothell contacted us to share a colorized panorama postcard created by famed Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition photographer Frank Nowell shortly after the 1914 completion of construction of the Smith Tower. (Harold Musolf Jr.)

 

Farewell: Paul Dorpat looks back on nearly 38 years of ‘Now & Then’

Note: While this installment, as printed in PacificNW magazine of The Seattle Times, is labeled as a farewell, this blog will continue to house Paul’s vast contributions to local history, from his columns to his many books. We hope and trust that he will continue making contributions to the blog whenever he has the time and inclination.

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NOW: After 38 years, Paul Dorpat returns to the corner of Pike Street and Fourth Avenue, where “Now & Then” began. Dorpat is stepping away to pursue other interests, but “Now & Then” will carry on. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN: Paul Dorpat’s first “Now” photo has become his final “Then” photo, taken at the southeast corner of Pike Street and Fourth Avenue in late fall 1981. A coffee server at far right holds a “Then” print of the intersection. (Paul Dorpat collection)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 20, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Dec. 22, 2019)

Farewell: Looking back on nearly 38 years of Now & Then
By Paul Dorpat

What a fortunate fellow.

Beginning in the winter of 1982, my byline here was first delivered with the Sunday Seattle Times to the breakfast tables of the city. Now here comes the handle to turn this faucet off with my valedictory feature, the last one for me. (Don’t worry, though. “Now & Then” isn’t going away.)

Frankly, at the age of 81, I am tired, but only somewhat. Increasingly, my head is turning. I yearn again to paint and make music, pleasures I had more time for a half-century ago.

Certainly, my best fortune has been the frequent one of meeting many readers and being introduced by them to subjects often pulled from their own collections. Thanks largely to them, I have gathered a sizable archive, which I am now beginning to file and interpret for transfer to two scholarly institutions that I have used repeatedly.

My negatives and slides are headed for the Seattle Public Library, the voice of the people (or vox populi). My film and video (shot and collected) will get an appropriate new home in the University of Washington Library’s Northwest Collection. I once lived in their halls and am now returning with a plethora of cared-for subjects, often attached with carefully devised captions. I’ll continue to encourage others to place their archives with mine in the hands of skilled librarians for sharing with the community.

For this week’s “Then” photo, Jean Sherrard has chosen what was this Sunday feature’s first “Now.” I snapped this shot at the southeast corner of Pike Street and Fourth Avenue on what I remember as an unseasonably warm late fall day in 1981.

It appeared in the Seattle Times’ Pacific magazine (a predecessor of today’s PacificNW magazine) the following January, the first of about 1,800 “Now” photos, most of which made it onto the inside of the magazine’s back cover. It is still a cherished location. I learned the name of this coffee server who posed for me, although I doubt that I then knew anything as yet about the name of her profession: barista.

As late as 1984, I was still delivering my features to the Times by car, not the internet, and I was still writing them on a typewriter that sounded already nostalgic. Within three years, I was no longer delivering my stories in person, which meant I had practically no contact with other Times writers.

I was a freelancer and sometimes lonely. I occasionally hung around The Times’ wonderfully stuffed library in its old building at Fairview and John.

I’m now heading for the piano. Now I ask you, my dear old (at least potential) friends, to imagine your own sounds and send them to me. And please also imagine me motioning in your direction with this, my valedictory wave. Many thanks for your years of help.

And let us all thank this newspaper for continuing the “Now & Then” feature with the vigorous contributions of Jean Sherrard, clearly as fine a writer as he is a photographer, and Clay Eals, a master editor and superb storyteller who has helped me since this weekly feature began in 1982. Many thanks to all old friends and new.

WEB EXTRAS

Check out Jean Sherrard’s 360-degree video of the “Now” prospect with this column read aloud by Paul Dorpat.

Meanwhile, below, in chronological order, are 17 photos of Paul Dorpat and six clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that provide a look back on Paul’s life and “Now & Then” career. Enjoy!

A young Paul (left) with his three brothers, mother Cherry and father Theodore. (courtesy Paul Dorpat)
Paul, 37, poses with his father, the Rev. Theodore E. Dorpat, in about 1975. At right is his mother, Cherry Dorpat. (courtesy Paul Dorpat)
Jan. 5, 1969, Seattle Times, page 45
July 15, 1972, Seattle Times, page 10
April 29, 1977, Seattle Times, page 10
Sept. 17, 1977, Seattle Times, page 13
Paul after a public shave at his 40th birthday party in 1978. (courtesy Paul Dorpat)
Sept. 24, 1981, Seattle Times, Erik Lacitis column
Oct. 1, 1981, Seattle Times, Erik Lacitis column
Paul (left) poses with Seattle’s Murray Morgan, author of “Skid Road,” mid-1980s. (courtesy Paul Dorpat)
Paul makes a self-portrait, mid-1980s. (courtesy Paul Dorpat)
Footprints newsletter, Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 1992.
The Aug. 26, 2001, cover of the Seattle Times’ Sunday magazine, “Pacific Northwest.”
Paul speaks in December 2004 at the Alki Homestead restaurant in West Seattle. (Joey Allman)
Paul pitches July 26, 2009, at the annual Eals Eskenazi Extravaganza birthday softball game at Alki Playfield. (Jean Sherrard)
Paul and Jean Sherrard flank Berangere Lamont, their Paris-based photographer and partner in PaulDorpat.com, 2011.
Paul in Ivar’s baseball hat, Jan. 6, 2016. (screen grab, Jean Sherrard)
Paul presents a talk Feb. 7, 2016, at West Seattle Library on the Alki roots of Ivar Haglund, subject of a future biography by Paul. (screen grab, Clay Eals)
Paul speaks at a history presentation May 31, 2018, at Pike Place Market. (Clay Eals)
Paul speaks at a history presentation May 31, 2018, at Pike Place Market. (Clay Eals)
(From left) Clay Eals, Paul and Jean Sherrard pose before a history presentation Sept. 23, 2018, at Salty’s on Alki restaurant. (Patrick Sand, West Seattle Blog)
Paul displays the 2018 “best of” book he co-authored with Jean Sherrard, Oct. 14, 2018. (Clay Eals)
With the Pioneer Square Pergola as a backdrop, Paul poses May 31, 2018. (Clay Eals)

Seattle Now & Then: Postscripts on Hutch and the (no more) Viaduct

Here are two of what The Seattle Times calls “postscripts” — items that follow up stories (including “Now & Then” columns) printed in 2019 in its PacificNW magazine.

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THEN: Seattle Mariners star outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. (center) and Jay Buhner hoist 5-year-old Joey Hutchinson, grandson of Fred Hutchinson, after Joey’s rounding of the bases before the first M’s game at brand new Safeco Field on July 15, 1999. Watching proudly at left is Joey’s dad and Fred’s son Joe Hutchinson of Anna Maria Island, Florida. (Clay Eals, courtesy Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center)
NOW1: Joey Hutchinson, 25, and girlfriend, Sandra Ordonez, pose in commemorative T-shirts prior to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Joey’s grandfather, Fred Hutchinson, on July 7, 2019, at T-Mobile Park, formerly Safeco Field. At rear, Seattle baseball historian Dave Eskenazi (left) chats with Joey’s dad and Fred’s son, Joe Hutchinson. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 20, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Dec. 22, 2019)

Grown-up Joey Hutchinson’s fire is ‘all part of the legacy’
By Clay Eals

Joey Hutchinson, it turns out, is a chip off the old Fred.

Last June 30, we at “Now & Then” previewed a tribute to Fred Hutchinson held July 7 at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of Fred’s Aug. 12, 1919, birth. We saluted his baseball acclaim and namesake role for the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Fred Hutchinson in 1955 Rainiers uniform. (Josef Scaylea, courtesy Dave Eskenazi))

Fred’s grandson Joey, a real-estate agent from Anna Maria Island, Florida, flew to Seattle with his dad, Joe (Fred’s son), for the tribute. Because of their presence, the tribute also was a 20th anniversary.

On July 15, 1999, when the ballpark (then named Safeco Field) opened, the pre-game ceremony featured Joey, then just 5. His tiny body nearly swimming inside a replica uniform and hat of the 1955 Seattle Rainiers, whom his gramps piloted to the Pacific Coast League title, Joey ran the bases to be greeted at home by his dad and M’s stars Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner. I was fortunate to be on the field to capture this emotional moment for the Hutch center.

Last July, I reconnected with now-25-year-old Joey, who sported long, curly locks in contrast to the closely shorn, mid-20th century Fred. Joey disclosed later that while he likes baseball, “soccer is my go-to sport.” But the differences end there. Fred’s famed fiery spirit has taken root in Joey’s heart.

“My whole family has a strong athletic background, and we play to win,” he says. “Even playing Monopoly when I was 12 or 13, once I had most of the board filled up with properties, I would take advantage of people, not cutting them any slack. … It can translate to a lot of things in life. It’s good to have that competitive nature.”

What about Fred’s well-known wall-busting at a loss? Joey allows for some Fred-like downsides. “For me, there’s been a few broken benches, a few drywall holes, car doors and doors slammed in the house,” he says. “It’s a little bit more than we want, but that’s all a part of the legacy, good or bad.”

A rock-star moment bolstered the legacy at this year’s Hutch Award luncheon July 18, which raised $575,000 for cancer research. The keynote speaker, retired one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott, asked for a “kid” in the audience to help him display his patented mitt transfer. The “kid” became West Seattle’s Eddie Vedder, of Pearl Jam. (Next year’s Hutch Award luncheon will take place Wednesday, May 6, 2020.)

Joey’s appraisal of the year’s tributes reflects his grandfather’s gentlemanly side and civic stature that offset the fire. “We’re just thankful for the tradition that the Mariners and Fred Hutch keep alive,” he says. “It’s a great thing for us to come back to.”

WEB EXTRAS

Here is an additional “Now” photo.

NOW2: Against a T-Mobile Park backdrop of retired Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki, 25 Hutchinson family members wear commemorative T-shirts while posing for a group photo prior to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Seattle-born baseball great Fred Hutchinson. In the front row, Fred’s son, Joe, in 1955 Seattle Rainiers replica jersey, is second from left. Grandson Joey is third from left. (Clay Eals)

 

Also, here is where to find the original column (June 30, 2019).

And here is a link to video of the July 7, 2019, opening ceremony at T-Mobile Park.

Video: The opening ceremony of Hutch 100 Day on July 7, 2019, at T-Mobile Park,  including a bio of Fred Hutchinson, a field gathering of Hutch supporters and a first-pitch ceremony. 4:35.

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THEN: Looking north on Railroad Avenue in 1920 from a new municipal trolley trestle at Washington Street — some 30 years before the Alaskan Way Viaduct was constructed in this corridor. (Courtesy Museum of History and Industry)
NOW1: Photographed one week after the Jan. 11 closing of the Alaska Way Viaduct, the pie-shaped 1 Yesler Way is visible at right. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: The three-story former Bedford Hotel shines in afternoon sun that never made its way to the building in viaduct days. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 20, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Dec. 22, 2019)

The Alaskan Way Viaduct – gone with a golden legacy
By Jean Sherrard

In 2019, Seattle underwent a public facelift as startling and momentous as any in recent memory.

With the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the waterfront, after 66 years, is no longer unhitched from the city’s downtown. After a long (and noisy) separation, there are high hopes for the new marriage.

Four of our columns this year commemorated this extended event. At the end of this creative destruction, we revisit two of them (and reference the third and fourth in our Web extras below).

In our Feb. 24 installment, we looked north on Railroad Avenue (now Alaskan Way), wide and busy in 1920. Our “Now,” taken one week after the viaduct closed permanently, was dominated by the grey, elevated structure.

The new “Now” seen here, taken in late November, has the same vantage. Looking north up Alaskan Way from Washington Street, my camera atop a 21-foot extension pole, I drew the admiration of an onlooker leaning from a second-story window in the Washington Park Building (far right, built in 1890, mere months after the Seattle Fire).

I asked him what he felt was the most dramatic effect of removing the viaduct.

“Silence and sunlight,” he crisply replied. “This conversation wouldn’t be possible because of the roar of traffic. And no more concrete shade.”

Further north, we see the three-story, pie-shaped building at 1 Yesler Way (originally the 1911 Bedford Hotel) emerging in golden sunlight from nearly seven decades in the shadows.

The entire waterfront is celebrating the same destiny, says Greg Nickels, Seattle’s mayor from 2002 to 2010, who offers sage advice: “For 66 years, the viaduct served as a placeholder, giving us a unique chance to re-imagine our city’s waterfront. Let’s not waste it.”

Part of that advice applies to chunks of the viaduct itself.

THEN: In 1953, some 180 idling vehicles simulate the worst possible traffic in the northbound Battery Street Tunnel in a successful test of the ventilation system (courtesy Ron Edge).
NOW1: Crowds pass southbound through the tunnel, pausing to view Vanishing Seattle’s video projection, collected and assembled by artist/activists Cynthia Brothers, Jill Freidberg and Rachel Kessler. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Jimmy Vukelich of Kiewit, onsite tunnel superintendent, stands upon gravel-topped fill, just a few feet shy of the ceiling of the Battery Street Tunnel. (Jean Sherrard)

 

In our March 17 installment, we showcased a 1953 interior view of the Battery Street Tunnel, which served as the northern entry to the viaduct. Our “Now” was taken Feb. 2, when we joined tens of thousands of pedestrians walking through the tunnel while visiting the viaduct for the last time.

Today the tunnel, brimful with viaduct debris in the new “Now” seen here, offers a final view before being sealed forever. Bits of the rubble were offered to the public gratis in late November, allowing viaduct supporters one last concrete chance to preserve their nostalgia.

“Nothing about this job was easy,” concludes Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar. “The viaduct stood perilously close to buildings and utilities and a critical rail corridor. We appreciate our contractor, Kiewit Infrastructure West, which finished the job with no injuries and no significant damage. And we’re proud to have cleared the way for Seattle’s new waterfront.”

WEB EXTRAS

Here’s where to find the original Viaduct-related columns referenced above on Railroad Avenue (Feb. 23, 2019) and the Battery Street Tunnel (March 16, 2019).

Also, here are two more “Then/Now” triads, related to Viaduct columns we did in 2019.

The first triad is based on our original column of March 10, 2019:

THEN: Probable members of the Seattle Photography Club, most likely taken by fellow member Horace Sykes in 1953, although we don’t know for sure. (courtesy, Lawton Gowey)
NOW1: Denizens of the waterfront on the final day of public access to the Viaduct, Feb. 2, 2019: (from left) Kevin Clark, owner of Argosy Cruises and Tillicum Excursions; Ryan Smith, third generation manager of Martin Smith, Inc., who own 15 historic buildings throughout downtown Seattle, including Piers 55 and 56; and the ubiquitous Bob Donegan, who helps manage Ivar’s from Pier 54. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Firmly planted on the ground where the Viaduct formerly stood are (from left) Kevin Clark, Ryan Smith and Bob Donegan. (Jean Sherrard)

The second triad is based on our original column of April 21, 2019:

THEN: Soon after this photo was taken in 1962, a section of the Seattle Armory’s western wall collapsed onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct, punching two holes in the northbound lanes and cracking a support beam. Repairs took several days. (Larry Dion, Seattle Times)
NOW1: Immediately north of the view in this March 2019 photo, the viaduct has been completely demolished. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: The Murray family enjoys the newly clear view. On Nov. 21, 2019, at the foot of Lenora, a stone’s throw north of the Great Northern Tunnel, the last remaining columns of the viaduct were removed, for good reason. To accommodate the dozens of trains passing through each day, the current owner, BNSF Railway, mandated that demolition near the tunnel be limited to only six hours per week beginning at 11 PM each Saturday, concluding early Sunday morning. (Jean Sherrard)

Seattle Now & Then: home on Capitol Hill, after 1902

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THEN: In addition to a windmill in the distance, this weathered photograph of the rather solitary Allan house at 1421 E. Valley St., taken not long after it was built in 1902, shows cows lounging in the next-door vacant lot, according to Jackie Williams’ book “The Hill With a Future: Seattle’s Capitol Hill 1900-1946,” originally published in 2001 and out of print until this month. (Courtesy Jackie Williams and Capitol Hill Historical Society)
NOW: Standing before the Allan house are (from left) author Jackie Williams, Tom Heuser and Marissa Hiller of the Capitol Hill Historical Society, which has reprinted Williams’ book, and homeowners Jennifer and Andrew Ting. The book, the first and only one focused solely on Capitol Hill history, gets a (re)launch party at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, at Vermillion Art Gallery and Bar, 1508 11th Ave. The event is free, with no cover charge. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Dec. 5, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Dec. 8, 2019)

From parties to puns to pies, a Capitol Hill home’s story emerges
By Clay Eals

When I broke into professional newspapering in 1973, the time had long passed when dailies printed details of every party, dance and wedding submitted by high society. Such notices were deemed a frivolous use of precious space needed to cover serious issues.

However, digging today into The Seattle Times’ online archive, I find that social squibs often help reveal the story of a vintage edifice. Case in point: the three-story 1902 Queen Anne that stands at 1421 E. Valley St., one of hundreds of houses anchoring what many consider residential nirvana on the north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

It’s clear the abode of Harding and Emma Allan hosted grand gatherings for family and friends. “Miss Mabel Allen entertained at bridge yesterday afternoon,” intoned one item on July 6, 1911. “Six tables were arranged in rooms decorated with a profusion of summer flowers.” The affair was “complimentary to” Mrs. Joseph Hamilton Hillsman, visiting from Atlanta. Eight years later, 40 attended a dance there to honor Miss Ruth Dovell of Berkeley.

From the same address, the Allans made news for other reasons, consequential and otherwise. They lost a son, age 10, in 1909. Helen Allan won 25 cents in 1911 by sending the Times a “Daffydill” pun: “If Lem-on Friday beet tomato’s head lettuce squash his cocoanut.” Five years later, Robert Allan joined 59 others on a grand jury, “the first sitting of an inquisitorial body” since Seattle’s passage of liquor prohibition.

Harding Allan, a contractor for 26 years, died at age 70 in 1928 while erecting the Exeter Apartments at Eighth and Seneca. His widow, Emma, who won third prize in the Times’ 1931 one-crust pie contest, died in 1948 at age 87.

Meanwhile, grandson John Fenton, a naval aviation cadet, merited six blurbs during World War II, including taking “a course in England designed to bridge the gap between training in the States and soldiering in an active theatre of war.” Later residents of the house were involved in a motorcycle wreck in 1952 and a car-bicycle crash in 1956.

These pieces depict a puzzle that is far from complete, but they summon a time when physical addresses were part of public identity. Many such episodes surface in the present day only on Facebook, sans addresses.

Today, the Allan home remains largely the same, which relieves Jackie Williams, author of The Hill With a Future: Seattle’s Capitol Hill 1900-1946. Her engaging book includes our “Then” image among its 100 photos and keen insights.

“Capitol Hill has not torn down these lovely old houses and built new, modern buildings,” she says. “It’s retained the integrity. It looks just like it would have looked 50 years ago.”

WEB EXTRAS

Besides the Dec. 8, 2019, (re)launch party for Jackie Williams’ book (see “Now” caption above), the Capitol Hill Historical Society also invites the public to its third annual Holiday Party at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, at Monique Lofts, 1505 11th Ave. The event is free with $10 suggested donation. To RSVP and learn more details, visit here.

At this event, Tom Heuser and Rob Ketcherside, the organization’s president and vice-president, respectively, will present “Wind of Change: A Photo at the Edge and Beginning of Capitol Hill,” featuring the history of the Allan house at 1421 E. Valley St. with a focus on the structures in the background, particularly the windmill and water tower.

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 photos of the Allan family from the Capitol Hill Historical Society,  two videos and 43 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column. Enjoy!

An Allan family portrait on the steps of 1421 E. Valley St. (Courtesy Capitol Hill Historical Society, via ancestry.com)
Harding and Emma Allan (Courtesy Capitol Hill Historical Society, via ancestry.com)
Harding Allan (Courtesy Capitol Hill Historical Society, via ancestry.com)
VIDEO: Author Jackie Williams talks about Capitol Hill integrity. 1:07
VIDEO: Jennifer Ting, co-owner of 1421 E. Valley St., serves coffee to Tom Heuser, president of the Capitol Hill Historical Society. 0:17
Jan. 6, 1902, Seattle Times, page 4
March 2, 1903, Seattle Times, page 10
April 3, 1903, Seattle Times, page 11
May 5, 1907, Seattle Times, page 55
May 18, 1909, Seattle Times, page 13
May 19, 1909, Seattle Times, page 9
Oct. 10, 1909, Seattle Times, page 32
Oct. 17, 1909, Seattle Times, page 18
Oct. 21, 1909, Seattle Times, page 11
July 6, 1911, Seattle Times, page 10
July 9, 1911, Seattle Times, page 51
July 14, 1911, Seattle Times, page 11
Feb. 29, 1916, Seattle Times, page 10
Nov. 12, 1916, Seattle Times, page 5
June 9, 1917, Seattle Times, page 4
July 27, 1917, Seattle Times, page 13
July 29, 1917, Seattle Times, page 50
Aug. 10, 1917, Seattle Times, page 13
Aug. 12, 1917, Seattle Times, page 55
June 29, 1919, Seattle Times, page 76
Aug. 7, 1919, Seattle Times, page 13
Aug. 10, 1919, Seattle Times, page 34
Aug. 17, 1919, Seattle Times, page 38
Nov. 21, 1919, Seattle Times, page 24
Jan. 19, 1928, Seattle Times, page 28
Jan. 20, 1928, Seattle Times, page 30
Jan. 22, 1928, Seattle Times, page 15
Nov. 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 4
May 5, 1935, Seattle Times, page 29
May 5, 1939, Seattle Times, page 10
May 5, 1939, Seattle Times, page 29
Oct. 17, 1943, Seattle Times, page 22
May 23, 1944, Seattle Times, page 6
June 23, 1944, Seattle Times, page 6
Feb. 10, 1945, Seattle Times, page 7
March 16, 1945, Seattle Times, page 6
May 28, 1946, Seattle Times, page 5
Jan. 13, 1952, Seattle Times, page 4
Sept. 13, 1956, Seattle Times, page 15
Jan. 4, 1957, Seattle Times, page 14
Feb. 19, 1959, Seattle Times, page 54
June 2, 1967, Seattle Times, page 53
April 20, 1972, Seattle Times, page 37

Seattle Now & Then: Washington National Guard in Tacoma, 1935

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THEN: Eyed by office workers in upper windows, Washington National Guardsmen fitfully use tear gas to ease lumber strikers and spectators back across Pacific Avenue and up the streetcar-tracked 11th Street hill in the late afternoon of July 12, 1935, in downtown Tacoma. The People’s (foreground) and Fisher’s (background) department stores stand prominently on the south (left) side of 11th. (Washington National Guard State Historical Society)
NOW: Backed by banks instead of department stores and posing in the footsteps of their guard predecessors are (from left) Rick Patterson of Dupont, Andy Leneweaver of Tacoma and Bill Woodward of Seattle, authors of “Washington National Guard.” The public can hear their free book presentation to the Pacific Northwest Historians Guild at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Seattle Pacific University library. For more info, visit here, (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Nov. 28, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Dec. 1, 2019)

Keeping their (National) Guard up in downtown Tacoma
By Clay Eals

Those who, like me, are charmed by the hillsides of downtown Tacoma may easily place the setting of our “Then” photo. But the activity bespeaks chaos, not charm.

The image looks west up 11th Street across Pacific Avenue in the late afternoon of Friday, July 12, 1935. Non-union men, desperate for Depression-era work and returning from tideflat lumber mills across the 11th Street Bridge, were confronted by angry hundreds who fueled the famed, summer-long Great Lumber Strike of 1935, a fractious, voluminously documented chapter in state labor history.

To preserve order, Gov. Clarence Martin called in part-time citizen soldiers of the Washington National Guard, who traveled 13 miles north from their Camp Murray headquarters, outfitted with rifles and bayonets and wearing World War I uniforms. Strikers jeered them as “tin hats.”

The photo captures guardsmen deploying tear gas. As thousands watched, a few from behind upper windows, some strikers hurled smoking canisters back at the guardsmen, who wore no masks and faced a stiff easterly wind that blew the acrid chemicals into their eyes. Despite the turmoil, the four-hour uproar produced only a few injuries. No shots were fired. No one died.

The 1935 scene evokes memories of my own – and, I suspect, many others – of a vastly different time and circumstance, when an ill-trained and ill-led Ohio National Guard used tear gas and opened fire during a 1970 anti-war protest at Kent State University, killing four students.

Such infamy, however, does not reside in the track record of this state’s guard, one of 54 such organizations in U.S. states and territories, say authors of a new book. The three – Andy Leneweaver, Rick Patterson and Bill Woodward — embody a combined 96 years of local guard service.

In their plain-titled Washington National Guard, the trio uses 200 photos to spin stories spanning a century and a half. They cover a wide swath of guard service, from protecting Chinese citizens during Seattle’s anti-Chinese riots in 1886 to providing police backup – without using tear gas – during the 1999 World Trade Organization protests, again in Seattle. The photos also depict deeply appreciated disaster relief, such when the fabled 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption enfolded guard soldiers in air and road patrols, search-and-rescue and ash cleanup.

The book does not overlook the guard’s many international military missions, and the authors and their 8,000 peers around the state remain fighters. Their slogan – “always ready, always there” – fits.

“We’re trained to go to war and support the national emergencies,” Patterson says, “but we’re also Washingtonians who care real deeply about our communities. When there’s floods and fires and quakes and volcanoes, we’re ready to jump on board, and we really feel proud about that.”

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!

For hundreds of Seattle, Tacoma and labor newspaper stories about the Great Lumber Strike of 1935, including the incident described above, visit this page of the University of Washington site: “Strikes! Labor History Encyclopedia for the Pacific Northwest.”

Also, below are a 1976 column about the incident, a promotional postcard for the Washington National Guard book and a link to a 27-minute video interview of the book’s authors.

1976 “Labor Pains” column
Promotional postcard for “Washington National Guard” book
Video: Authors (from left) Rick Patterson, Andy Leneweaver and Bill Woodward discuss their new book “Washington National Guard.” (Clay Eals)

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Alki ferry dock to Manchester, late 1930s

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Missing its lower left corner, this undated photo looks west at the Alki-Manchester ferry dock. As determined by Southwest Seattle Historical Society volunteer researchers Phil Hoffman and Bob Carney, it likely was taken in the late 1930s, after ferry service at the dock ended. (Courtesy Southwest Seattle Historical Society)
NOW: Phil Hoffman stands just east of the site of the former Alki-Manchester ferry dock, whose pilings peek out of the low-tide surf behind him to his right. You can see Hoffman’s prolific research articles on all topics Alki, including the Alki-to-Manchester ferry, online at Alki History Project. (Clay Eals)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Nov. 14, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Nov. 17, 2019)

A ferry tale with a happy ending for Alki
By Clay Eals

To the dogged and detailed volunteer researcher Phil Hoffman, the idyllic calm of our sunset scene, which looks west from Alki Beach, may be deceptive. Waves ready to roil in the foreground could be a more potent symbol. This, he says, is because while history usually records what happened, “Sometimes what didn’t happen is more important.”

Our “Then” depicts a ferry dock extending into Puget Sound from Alki Avenue north of 64th Avenue Southwest in West Seattle. From there, entrepreneur Harry Crosby’s Direct Line Ferries opened 65-car service to tiny Manchester, east of Port Orchard in south Kitsap County, on April 20, 1925. Thirteen months later, Crosby sold it to Puget Sound Navigation Company, parent of the famed Black Ball Line, whose network represented the last vestiges of the Sound’s fabled “Mosquito Fleet” before it gave way in 1951 to our state ferry system.

Alki to Manchester was the shortest distance between Seattle and the Kitsap mainland, so the new terminal in 1925 exploited the soaring popularity of automobiles by launching countless excursions (85 cents one way for cars) to the tantalizing Olympic Peninsula.

Ads featured exotic illustrations and cartoon maps that likened the waterborne route to a suspension bridge. One even invoked an irresistible pun. “There’s a fairy-land across the blue waters of Puget Sound,” it proclaimed in the May 23, 1930, Seattle Times. “A vacation land unrivaled anywhere in the world. Unspoiled – primitive yet livable and very accessible.”

It was no accident that the Alki-Manchester route, inaugurated in the Roaring Twenties, died amid the Great Depression, on Jan. 13, 1936. The cause was not just a national economic collapse. The line also fell victim to ongoing disputes with marine unions, as well as initiation by the consolidation-minded Black Ball of a new ferry between downtown Seattle and Manchester the previous July.

The West Seattle Commercial Club scurried to promulgate a scheme to convert to a state highway the arterial that circumnavigated Duwamish Head to the closed ferry dock, to no avail. The dock operated as a boathouse for several years and briefly hosted an eatery, Sea Foods First Mate Grill, in 1941. But by 1946, all that remained was its pilings.

Which is fine with Hoffman, who lives 500 feet from the dock site. Though flooded with partyers in the summer, present-day Alki is sleepy, even bucolic most of the year.

“It would be a very different place if that ferry had continued through today,” Hoffman says. “It would be a parking lot. The car would have consumed the land, the natural resources of the beach and the desirable residential aspects of the area.”

Today’s waves of Alki might be murmuring a sigh of relief.

WEB EXTRAS

To see Jean Sherrard’s (waterborne) 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!

Also we provide news clippings (scroll down) and present four photos courtesy of Phil Hoffman, who provides this addendum to go with the next three photos:

“Elta and Ernest Weiss operated the First Mate Seafood Grill on the Alki-Manchester ferry dock beginning in 1941. They married in 1940. Elta frequently purchased seafood, at Alki dockside, from local fishers. It is unknown when the restaurant closed, but it is suspected to have closed before 1943.

“Ernest was originally from Michigan and was a machinist. He retired from the machinist position he held at Ederer Engineering Company. Ernest had a reputation as an avid hunter and fisherman.

“Elta was the daughter of a Baptist minister and originally hailed from Gas City, Kansas. She was a member of her high-school championship basketball team. In the years following the Seafood Grill venture, she was a cook for the Seattle School District at Magnolia’s Briarcliff Elementary School. Following her retirement from the School District she took employment, in a similar capacity, with Seattle’s Ballard Hospital.

“The couple was childless and lived in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood. Ernest died in 1981, at age 76, followed by Elta, a year later, at age 73.

“After the above column was published, I was contacted by David Rubbelke with information about Elta and Ernest Weiss. David Rubbelke is the Weisses’ nephew. I deeply appreciate David providing the information and photos that appear here.”

Ernest and Elta Weiss, April 5, 1942, possibly taken at the Sea Foods First Mate Grill at the former Alki-Manchester ferry dock. Elta and Ernest owned the restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Dave Rubbelke, nephew of Ernest and Elta, forwarded via Phil Hoffman)
(From left) Elta Weiss’ father, Elta Weiss and Ernest Weiss, April 5, 1942, possibly taken at the Sea Foods First Mate Grill at the former Alki-Manchester ferry dock. Elta and Ernest owned the restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Dave Rubbelke, nephew of Ernest and Elta, forwarded via Phil Hoffman)
(From left) Elta Weiss’ father, Vince Rubbelke, Jent Dennis (Elta Weiss’ mother), 10-year-old Don Rubbelke, Ernest Weiss and Elta’s sister, April 5, 1942, possibly taken at the Sea Foods First Mate Grill at the former Alki-Manchester ferry dock. Elta and Ernest owned the restaurant. (Photo courtesy of Dave Rubbelke, nephew of Ernest and Elta, forwarded via Phil Hoffman)

 

Phil also provides this photo of Harry Crosby:

Harry W. Crosby, 1916, in his mid- to late 30s (Phil Hoffman)

Below, in chronological order, are 56 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and West Seattle Herald that, among others, were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Jan. 11, 1925, Seattle Times, page 20
March 14, 1925, Seattle Times, page 14
March 25, 1925, Seattle Times, page 12
April 3, 1925, Seattle Times, page 19
April 7, 1925, Seattle Times, page 19
April 10, 1925, Seattle Times, page 25
April 12, 1925, Seattle Times, page 30
April 13, 1925, Seattle Times, page 22
April 15, 1925, Seattle Times, page 19
April 23, 1925, Seattle Times, page 16
July 26, 1925, Seattle Times, page 33
Sept. 20, 1925, Seattle Times, page 27
1925 Alki Manchester ferry schedule, front side (Phil Hoffman)
1925 Alki Manchester ferry schedule, back side (Phil Hoffman)
1925 Crosby Ferries cartoon ad (Bob Carney)
1925 Crosby Ferries cartoon map in ad. (Bob Carney)
May 11, 1926, Seattle Times, page 25
May 26, 1926, Seattle Times, page 17
May 27, 1926, Seattle Times, page 30
June 17, 1926, Seattle Times, page 17
July 6, 1926, Seattle Times, page 2
1927 Alki Machester ferry dock and terminal at 3001 Alki Ave (Phil Hoffman)
1928 02 Washington Motorist Puget Sound Navigation ferry ad (Bob Carney)
Oct. 2, 1928, Seattle Times, pages 1 and 3
Oct. 3, 1928, Seattle Times, page 10
May 23, 1930, Seattle Times, page 10
Oct. 19, 1930, Seattle Times, page 49
1930 Crosline ferry at Alki, from “West Seattle” book, Arcadia (Bob Carney)
1930s Alki Beach, with ferry dock (Bob Carney)
Aug. 1, 1933, Seattle Times, page 5
May 16, 1934, Seattle Times, page 12
May 28, 1935, Seattle Times, page 15
July 8, 1935, Seattle Times, page 17
Aug. 29, 1935, Seattle Times, page 10
Oct. 28, 1935, Seattle Times, Alki ferry storm damage (Bob Carney)
Oct. 28, 1935, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Alki storm (Bob Carney)
Oct. 29, 1935, Seattle Times, page 1
Dec. 12, 1935, Seattle Times, page 7
Dec. 13, 1935, Seattle Times, page 10
Jan. 13, 1936, Seattle Times, page 18
Nov. 19, 1936, Seattle Times, page 19
Nov. 28, 1936, Seattle Times, page 2
1937 tax photo of Alki ferry dock (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Phil Hoffman)
1937 tax photo of 3017 Alki Ave., next door to Alki ferry (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Phil Hoffman)
Sept. 18, 1938, Seattle Times, page 4
Jan. 26, 1940, Seattle Times, page 20
April 24, 1941, West Seattle Herald, page 1
Aug. 17, 1945, Seattle Times, page 11

Seattle Now & Then: In 1952, Terry Pettus

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Here the square jaw of labor activist Terry Pettus holds steady like a confident variation of Smith Tower rising behind him. Our best guess on the year the photo was taken is 1952. (Paul Dorpat Collection)
NOW: For his “repeat,” Jean reached what was once Seattle’s speakers’ corner before a recent Seahawks game, where a well-plumed bird offered assurance that it was not a demonstrator but rather a dedicated fan. Indeed. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Nov. 7, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Nov. 10, 2019)

Terry Pettus faces second Red Scare at Seattle’s speakers’ corner
By Paul Dorpat

Here — perhaps on a soapbox — stands Terry Pettus.

For a time, after moving to Seattle from Indiana in 1927, Pettus lived in the home of artist Kenneth Callahan. (A Callahan drawing hangs above my desk.)

Pettus was a reporter at newspapers around the state and was Washington’s first member of The Newspaper Guild. He was a member of the Washington Commonwealth Federation, a more “leftist” faction of the Democratic Party energized to end poverty. He joined the Communist Party, but after World War II, such idealism increasingly succumbed to the paranoid preaching of McCarthyism during the nation’s second Red Scare (the first followed World War I).

In our “Then” photo, Pettus and other party members promote a “six-hour day and 30-hour week” (a nice job, if you can get it). Another sign protests the “frame-up [of] Communist Party Leaders.”

This is one of a half-dozen photos snapped of this organized protest held in what for decades served as Seattle’s own speakers’ corner, at Occidental Avenue and Washington Street. I was given these small prints about 40 years ago. One has been dated, perhaps by me, “1952.” The year might be correct. But who took the photos, and who gave the gift?

This photo, and the rest of its cadre, might soon await identification in its new home at Seattle Public Library. The photos will be joined by a few hundred thousand other images I accumulated through a half-century of collecting and studying. (My original Callahan also will find a new home among the ephemera.)

Seattle Mayor Charles Royer declared March 7, 1982, Terry Pettus Day, and in 1985, a year after Pettus died, a small park was named for him on the east side of Lake Union. (There, in the late 1980s, I sometimes wrote outlines for this series of Sunday features.)

WEB EXTRAS

Below, in chronological order, are 13 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that, among others, relate to this column. Enjoy!

May 28, 1940, Seattle Times, page 17
Feb. 3, 1944, Seattle Times, page 23
March 5, 1946, Seattle Times, page 14
March 6, 1946, Seattle Times, page 15
Oct. 10, 1952, Seattle Times, page 11
Oct. 29, 1953, Seattle Times, page 4
Jan. 20, 1954, Seattle Times, p4
June 15, 1954, Seattle Times, page 11
Aug. 25, 1958, Seattle Times, page 4
Sept. 4, 1983, Emmett Watson, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22
Jan. 24, 1984, Emmett Watson, Seattle Times, page 9
Oct. 8, 1984, Seattle Times, page 2
Oct. 9, 1984, Emmett Watson, Seattle Times, page 13
Oct. 9, 1984, Emmett Watson, Seattle Times, page 18

Seattle Now & Then: the Maple Leaf water tower, shortly after 1949

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Our auto informant Bob Carney identifies a 1942 Nash awaiting a fill-up in this photo looking southeast from Northeast 88th Street and Roosevelt Way. Likely taken shortly after 1949, the image features the recently erected Maple Leaf water tank and, to its right, a sliver of the open-air reservoir. (Courtesy the Maple Pub and Seattle Municipal Archives)
NOW: Standing next to popular Cloud City Coffee and in front of the yellowing deciduous leaves of early fall is Donna Hartmann-Miller, who led input of the Maple Leaf Community Council for the design of Maple Leaf Reservoir Park. Pointing to the park’s icon – its illustrated and now-empty water tank – she says, “I like getting the community involved in things. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?” (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Oct. 31, 2019
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on Nov. 3, 2019)

Empty tank holds a reservoir of affection in Maple Leaf
By Clay Eals

Who doesn’t love a maple tree?

One stood tall and lush in our front yard when I was a child. Its leaves grew to be enormous and green, then yellow and brilliant autumn orange, their sturdy stems becoming curled handles to pick up and twirl. Combing the woods across the street for trees to climb, we kids gravitated to maples. Big branches. No sticky pitch.

Such notably Northwest nuances underlie the fondness bred in residents of Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood, especially for its sizeable symbol: the water tower and now-empty (!) tank at the southeast corner of Northeast 88th Street and Roosevelt Way.

Erected in 1949 to replace two smaller ones built in about 1915, the tank was painted by the city in 1986 with a pleasing pattern of interlocking white maple leaves on a sky-blue background. The adornment followed a national distinction secured by then-Mayor Charles Royer, the naming of Maple Leaf as Neighborhood of the Year over 2,000 other contestants by Nashville-based Neighborhoods USA.

The Seattle Times editorially saluted the honor, appropriating the melody of “Seattle,” the Perry Como hit, with substitute lyrics that included “full of houses, full of trees / full of homespun families / and an absence of yuppies …”

Certainly “yuppies,” a term emerging in the 1980s, were scarce when our “Then” photo was taken, not long after 1949 and looking southeast toward the tank as it presided over an enormous, open-air, ground-level reservoir completed in 1910. The image evinces a nearly rural air, with scattered structures and byway businesses offering garden supplies and gasoline, supplemented by a low billboard for General Tire downtown.

In fact, one could – and still can – stand near the foot of the tank and see downtown, for Maple Leaf, at 446 feet above sea level, is essentially tied with Queen Anne as the third highest hill in Seattle.

The neighborhood’s boundaries, distinct on the sides (Interstate 5 and Lake City Way), are fuzzier south to north (roughly from Northeast 80th to Northgate). But its soul is singular, says Donna Hartmann-Miller, who worked at legendarily friendly Maple Leaf Hardware and for 10 years led the local community council’s shaping of the modern, 16-acre Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, a $55 million project dedicated in 2013 that included covering the reservoir.

Meanwhile, worried that the tank – which held eight million pounds of water 100 feet aloft – would falter in an earthquake, Seattle drained it in 2009. Today, a nearby antenna tower generates city revenue.

Anything but empty is the tank’s imposing civic appeal. “It’s balanced and symmetrical – it’s Americana,” Hartmann-Miller says. “Everybody talks about it with affection.”

Just like, perhaps, a maple leaf.

WEB EXTRAS

The $55 million figure above is a correction. In the column printed in the Nov. 3, 2019, Seattle Times, the incorrect figure of $6 million was used. The park development itself cost $6 million, but the entire project, including covering of the reservoir, cost $55 million.

You can see the same column reprinted in the Maple Leaf Community Council newsletter, page 3.

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 photos of Maple Leaf Reservoir Park and 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!

The sculpture at Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, symbolizing the use of water from both the Cedar River and Tolt River watersheds. (Clay Eals)
The title and credits for the sculpture at Maple Leaf Reservoir Park, symbolizing the use of water from both the Cedar River and Tolt River watersheds. (Clay Eals)
Jan. 11, 1949, Seattle Times, page 4
Nov. 6, 1964, Seattle Times, page 9

Seattle Now & Then: Norton Building, 1959

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Roger Dudley Jr. photographed the Norton Building in 1959 looking northwest from the Dexter Horton Building roof. Built in 1924 at Second Avenue and Cherry Street, the Dexter Horton’s 15 stories were not so alluring to panoramists as the Smith Tower, dedicated in 1914, a block-and-a-half south on Second Avenue at Jefferson Street and about 40 spectacular stories high. (Photo by Roger Dudley, courtesy Dan Eskenazi)
NOW: The Norton Building peeks out today from the same vantage. (Photo by Jean Sherrard)

(Published in Seattle Times online on Oct. 17, 2019,
and in print in PacificNW magazine
of the Seattle Times on Oct. 20, 2019)

Seattle’s first tall curtain wall conveys egalitarian modernity
By Paul Dorpat

Seattle’s first “glass box” of size, the Norton Building, opened on Oct. 30, 1959, at Second Avenue and Columbia Street, with its principal tenant, Canadian Bank of Commerce, holding the ground floor. Named for pioneer lumberman Matthew G. Norton, the edifice was then easily Seattle’s grandest display of modernity.

I was there – nearly. Living and studying in Spokane, I made yearly trips to visit Ted, my psychiatrist oldest brother in Seattle, not for therapy but for brotherly love, lunch on the waterfront and, in 1959, an inspection of the Norton and its glass curtains.

Not counting the four-story stone base, the Norton’s unadorned sides climb 17 stories wrapped in tempered grey glass and anodized aluminum. Ballard-based Fentron Industries proudly pointed out in the opening hoopla that Fentron “had been given Total Responsibility for detailing, extruding, fabricating, alumiliting and erecting the curtain walls of the Norton Building.”

The skin’s aluminum bound the Norton so tightly that its floors were mostly free of interrupting posts. This interior decorating freedom is anticipated and exposed in photographer Roger A. Dudley Jr.’s portrait of construction in 1959. The west end of the building, on the left, is aglow in the afternoon sun.

I knew Dudley, a past president of the Photographers Association of Washington, and benefited from his generous sharing of historical photographs – not, however, this one. Another friend and vintage collector, Dan Eskenazi, introduced me to a collection of Dudley’s 1950s work that Dan acquired long after Dudley’s death in 2003. Included is his Norton coverage, 4-by-5-inch negatives of the building’s attended parking off First Avenue, its cornerstone dedication with members of the Norton family, the building’s long escalators, examples of its big open floors and the sculpture plaza at its Second Avenue entrance.

Seattle architect Susan Boyle, with her encyclopedic sensitivity to modern architecture, provides more insight. Another old friend, she belongs to Docomomo WEWA, short for the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement. (WEWA is for Western Washington). The organization provides tours of the Norton.

“The Norton Building,” Boyle writes, “embodies all that was progressive in mid-century post-war architectural design: functionality combined with beauty, a faith in technology and new materials, use of efficient construction systems and an optimism about the future of Seattle as an urbane urban place.

“The escalator from the First Avenue-level parking garage was a modern way to arrive to work. The original building provided a publicly accessible sculpture garden on a west terrace off the main lobby, and open-plan upper floors that allowed office tenants maximum flexibility. The resulting space was consistent throughout, with ample daylight from perimeter windows, and it offered an egalitarian work environment.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Jan. 11, Seattle Times, page 109
Jan. 19, 1959, Seattle Times, page 6
March 26, 1959, Seattle Times, page 17
May 17, 1959 Seattle Times, page 13
July 13, 1959, Seattle Times, page 33
Oct. 25, 1959, Seattle Times, page 77
Oct. 29, 1959, Seattle Times, page 18

Join us on Saturday afternoon for ‘Seattle Now & Then’ event at new West Seattle bookstore

The events

Jean Sherrard and Paul Dorpat hold forth at Oct. 7, 2019, event for “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred” at Redmond Library, sponsored by the Redmond Historical Society.

Earlier this month, on Oct. 7, 2019, we had a bang-up book event for Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred at Redmond Library, sponsored by the Redmond Historical Society. You can see the resulting video at our events page (scroll down). It was our 33rd event on behalf of the book, which was published just one year ago on Paul Dorpat‘s 80th birthday.

The next event is 3:30 PM this Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, at a brand new bookstore, Paper Boat Booksellers, 6040 California Ave SW in West Seattle. The presentation will showcase a slide show of “then” and “now” images from the book.

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a personally inscribed copy of the book ($49.95 plus $5 sales tax), or just want to see authors Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard in action again, this is your chance!

Books on display. (Photo by Gavin MacDougall)

You can re-live an event or experience it anew! Videos of 29 of the book’s 33 events are posted on the events page of our website.

The media

Clay Eals

Clay Eals, the editor of Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred, who also wrote the book’s introduction, will be the guest of former Seattle City Council members Jean Godden and Sue Donaldson on “The Bridge” radio show at 3-4 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, on SPACE 101.1 FM.

Jean Godden
Sue Donaldson

 

How to order

Want to place an order for Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred? It’s easy. Just visit our “How to order” page. You can specify how you want Paul and Jean to personalize your copy. Mailed orders will reach mailboxes in about a week.

As Jean looks on, Paul signs a book for Nancy Guppy of The Seattle Channel’s “Art Zone.”

Thanks!

Big thanks to everyone who has helped make this book a successful tribute to the public historian who has popularized Seattle history via more than 1,800 columns for more than 37 years, Paul Dorpat!

— Clay Eals, editor, Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred