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Seattle Now & Then: ‘You’ll Like Tacoma,’ 1910

(Click to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: From 1910, this view looks south along Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue, featuring the Northern Pacific headquarters (center left) and city hall. Mount Rainier (aka Tacoma) floats above Commencement Bay. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: A nearer prospect emerges from an offramp with the aid of a 20-foot pole. The Northern Pacific Headquarters, now an office building, was last remodeled in 1983. Old City Hall, placed on the most endangered list of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in 2011, is being extensively restored by developer SURGE Tacoma and due to reopen in 2023. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on August 4, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on August 7, 2022)

Municipal portrait makes ‘You’ll Like Tacoma’ a winning slogan
By Jean Sherrard

Distracted by the trio of natural and architectural jewels strewn across the skyline of this 1910 photo of Tacoma’s north downtown, we easily can miss the discreet banner stretched over a roadway in the foreground shadows.

Its crisp caption: “You’ll like Tacoma.”

The year-old slogan originally had been adopted by Tacoma promoters during arch-rival Seattle’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, meant to encourage visitors to venture south to the self-styled City of Destiny.

Directly across Lake Union from the fairgrounds (today’s University of Washington campus), boosters had erected their Paul Bunyan-sized solicitation in huge, electrically illuminated letters.

THEN 2: Nearly 20-foot-high letters broadcast Tacoma booster’s “modest” message to visitors at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909.

The motto was both “an invitation and a prophecy,” gushed the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “and it fit [Tacoma] like a new glove: neat, apt, modest and winsome.”

The $30,000 campaign also included buttons, flyers and paid ads. Even a “patriotic march song” was commissioned to amplify the message:

You’ll like Tacoma
Where rail meets sail,
Where all are prosperous,
Hearty and hale,
Down on Commencement Bay,
A New York’s growing, day by day,
Tacoma, the peer of all.

THEN 3: Sheet music cover for the promotional song “Tacoma.” (Tacoma Public LIbrary collection)

For Paris-born photographer Paul Leo Richards, his popular “Then” photo, captured a year after the exposition, was a valentine to his adopted city. Fresh off the boat in 1891, the ambitious Frenchman wore many hats — inventor, investor and innovator — but is best known for documenting and celebrating the shining attributes of Tacoma.

This notable municipal portrait also subtly tweaks the Tacoma-Seattle rivalry. Just for fun, let’s keep score:

The Mountain That Was God, a mere 40 miles to the southeast, looms gloriously large. Tacomans persisted in calling it Mount Tacoma or Tahoma, its native moniker, disparaging the Seattle- (and USGS-) approved namesake, English Rear Admiral Peter Rainier. Names aside, Tacoma has always rocked the mountain view.

Point: Grit City.

At center, Northern Pacific Railroad’s Headquarters, completed in 1888, overlooks train-track ribbons and Commencement Bay. The creamy, stucco-covered structure also commemorates Tacoma’s 1873 triumph over Seattle, when the railroad chose the tiny (population 200) unincorporated town as its western terminus, in one fell swoop breaking more than a thousand Queen City hearts.

Point: the City of Destiny for the snub.

At right, just across Pacific Avenue, stands Tacoma’s commanding Old City Hall, built in 1893. A superb example of Italian Renaissance style, its eight-foot-thick foundation walls support a freestanding clock/campanile tower, slightly tapered to emphasize its soaring 10 stories. Seattle, having just erected a more utilitarian flatiron city hall in 1909, might well have expressed envy.

Point: You’ll prefer Tacoma, for the win.

WEB EXTRAS

A 360 degree video will be forthcoming but Jean is in his second day of Covid – not too serious thus far, but his dry cough keeps ruining vocal takes!
And at last here’s the 360 (in the first couple minutes, a cop tries to convince Jean to get out of traffic. Jean nods, and smiles agreeably but continues recording).

We have a handful of extras this week, including more materials featuring photographer Paul Richards.

But this just in! Lane Morgan, daughter of legendary historian Murray Morgan (author of ‘Skid Road’ and many other monumental books of regional history, as well as being mentor and close friend of this column’s founder Paul Dorpat), sends along the following delightful odes to Tacoma, written by her grandfather Henry Victor Morgan between 1912 and the early 20s.

Her favorite:

POULTRY IN TACOMA

Livin’ in Tacoma is one long delight,
Just a been attendin’
Poultry show tonight;
Every hen a-singin’–
Red and white and blue—
“Gee we like Tacoma, Bet your life we do!”
All together sayin’, “Isn’t this sublime?
Don’t you like Tacoma? Ain’t the climate fine?

Ever see such weather on a New Years Day
That is why we’re happy. That is why we lay.”

One Rhode Island biddy
Filled the room with cackle,
Said Tacoma’s Leghorn: “She is from Seattle.”
Answered biddie’s Chanti
Rolling up his eyes,
“Yes, we’re from Seattle,
And we won third prize.”

One lone bird seemed dumpy
At the poultry feast
Said the White Minorka,
“She is from the east;
She is like a trolley, off the beaten track,
Dumpy? She is thinkin’ that she must go back.”

Then the roosters proudly
All began to crow,
“No place like Tacoma! Watch Tacoma grow!”

And, as promised, a bit more about Paul Richards:

 

The only extant photo of Paul Richards, from his passport taken two years before his death

After building a life in Tacoma, he joined the US Army as a photographer and documented the First World War in France. Certainly, he also served as a translator as well. In the final months of the war, tragedy struck in the form of mustard gas. Severely wounded, Richards spent three years convalescing but died in 1921 of his injuries.

Seattle Now & Then: The Civic Auditorium, 1928

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THEN1: A colored postcard, looking southeast, shows off newly built Civic Auditorium in 1928, ready to welcome thousands of conventioneers. The public bond also funded an adjoining ice arena and athletic field. (Seattle Public Library archives)
NOW: The mirrored, curved exterior of McCaw Hall sports an outside passageway, the Kreielsheimer Promenade. Captured on Memorial Day during Seattle’s first Northwest Folklike Festival since 2019, musicians gather on the steps for a jam session (clockwise from lower left): Doug Plummer, Jon Crump, Lawson Cannon, Karen Dale, Kathy Brown and Mark Hinds. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on July 7, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on July 10, 2022)

A Saloonkeeper’s civic sensibility inspired a lasting auditorium
By Jean Sherrard

James Osborne may have attended late 19th-century touring opera performances at Yesler’s Hall at First and Cherry, only blocks away from his profitable Gem Saloon in Pioneer Square.

And while tapping his foot to the music of Donizetti, Bellini or Verdi, the confirmed bachelor might have conjured an act of civic generosity that ended up supporting arias in centuries to come.

A rare portrait of James Osborne, saloonkeeper and incidental patron of the arts

Affectionately referred to by friends as “a great infidel” due to his free-thinker’s rejection of religion, Osborne (1834-1881) bequeathed a whopping $20,000 to Seattle with one condition: The donation could be used only to build “a public hall” with city matching funds.

Nearly five decades passed before Osborne’s bequest was fulfilled. The site was a fertile stretch of glacier-carved swale between Queen Anne Hill and regraded Denny Hill.

Dotted by willows and edged with wetlands, this was a traditional gathering place for the Duwamish, who called it Baba’kwob or “the prairies.” The skillful netting of ducks scared up from Lake Union provided ample protein for potlatches and other tribal festivities.

The land also proved ideal for growing fruit, vegetables and imported roses. Settlers David and Louisa Boren Denny moved there in 1854 with their young family, building a log farmhouse and planting gardens that supplied much of Seattle’s fresh produce for the next quarter century.

Louisa Boren Denny and David Denny with their two daughters

In 1886, the Dennys — by then one of the region’s richest families — had donated much of the site to the city, prescribing, with an echo of Osborne, that it be reserved for “public use forever.”

By 1927, Osborne’s invested legacy had grown to $110,000, but repeated efforts to erect a public facility had languished or been thwarted despite popular acclaim.

That year, The Seattle Times lobbied for a civic structure to reflect a reinvigorated “Seattle Spirit.” Added the Post-Intelligencer: Seattle was “the only great Pacific Coast city without … a large municipal auditorium.”

City council members and Seattle’s first female mayor, Bertha Landes, offered vigorous support, proposing a $900,000 bond to fund construction.

However, passage required a turnout of at least 50% of eligible voters, and the March 8, 1927, election became a nailbiter. A Times banner warned on the afternoon of election day: “Light Vote Endangers Auditorium.” But Seattleites heeded the call, passing the proposition.

The 7,700-seat Civic Auditorium was completed by June 1928 and hosted its inaugural event, a national Kiwanis convention.

In 1962, the auditorium was refashioned for the Seattle World’s Fair as the Seattle Opera House. In 2003, with donations and public funding, the structure was largely rebuilt, with improved acoustics and seating, as Marion Oliver McCaw Hall.

WEB EXTRAS

Go for it! Click on through to our 360 video, shot on location and narrated by Jean.

Also Clay reminded me of the centerfold of our 2018 book ‘Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred” which features a spectacular view of the Civic Auditorium from Queen Anne! It’s quite wide, so double click for full impact.

Also, we include a few celebratory photos of the Northwest Folklife Festival, marking its return after a two-year pandemic caesura.

Just for fun, check out the  jam session on the steps of McCaw Hall featured in our “now” photograph.

CLICK TO PLAY JAM SESSION!
Northwest Indie-rock band, Pineola, in performance

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle Motorcycle Club Endurance Tour, 1910

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THEN 1: Members of the Seattle Motorcycle Club arrange themselves in elegant rows on July 3, 1910, on 14th Avenue north of Prospect Street. The year-old Parker-Felsen mansion presides at upper left. Fred Walker (front row, far left) was one of seven riders who completed the endurance tour with a perfect score. His prize: three sets of tires for his 4-horsepower Excelsior. (courtesy Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling)
NOW 1: (Front, far left) Jack Mackey, Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling exhibits coordinator. Next (from left) are Tom Samuelsen, museum historian; Tammy Sessions, museum president; Tad Dean, Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts (VME) member; Jeff Earle, VME ride coordinator; Chris Sharon, VME member; Paul Henderson, VME vice-president; and Emily Mullen, Rainier Ravens leader. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on June 23, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 26, 2022)

Vroom with a view: Bikers still ‘see everything’ 112 years later
By Jean Sherrard

It was, proclaimed the Seattle Times, “the first real endurance tour in the history of the motorcycle in the Pacific Northwest,” hosted July 3, 1910, by the Seattle Motorcycle Club.

In our “Then” photo, 26 club members pause near Volunteer Park before the event, straddling their cycles while wearing leather chaps, sporting mustaches and derby hats.

These early bikes were not dependable, says Tom Samuelsen, historian of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling. An extended trip demanded equal reservoirs of luck, mechanical improvisation and sheer tenacity. Writer Frank Richardson Pierce retrospectively detailed the riders’ elaborate dance:

“When the photographer finished, the club members shoved belt-tightening levers and pedaled madly until the engines started. Then, loosening each belt so that it slipped on the pulley, they dismounted, [easing] the machine off the stand. … Remounting, they tightened the belt and were on their way.”

The grueling, 2-day run began at 7 a.m. from Pioneer Place (now Pioneer Square) and adhered to a punishing schedule.

THEN 2: Motorcycle club members rendezvous at 7 a.m. on July 3, 1910, near Pioneer Square. (Courtesy PNWMoM)

Checkpoints included Kent, Tacoma, the Mount Rainier Park entrance and the Nisqually glacier, plus an overnight stay in the town of Elbe. A checkered flag was waved in front of the Seattle Times building at Second and Union at 6 p.m. Independence Day, July 4.

NOW 2: Jack Mackey (left), Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling exhibits coordinator, displays Seattle Motorcycle Club minutes committing to the 1910 endurance tour. Historian Tom Samuelsen displays our “Then” photo. (Jean Sherrard)

Of the 33 motorcyclists who started the tour — propelling two-thirds of the 50 motorcycles then owned in Seattle — all but four vroomed the distance. Local shops and merchandisers awarded top finishers prizes ranging from headlight lamps and goggles to new sets of tires.

Our “Now” photo was snapped Sunday, May 22, from the same vantage, the steps leading up to the Volunteer Park water tower, looking south along 14th Avenue.

These 30 motorcyclists also participated in that day’s 11th annual Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride. A global event spanning more than 700 cities and 100 countries, it has raised more than $31 million since 2012 for the Movember Foundation, on behalf of prostate-cancer awareness and men’s mental health.

Seattle hosts one of the largest such rides, mainly sponsored by two local clubs, the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiasts (VME) and the Rainier Ravens (an all-women’s motorcycle group).

NOW 3: Sisters Jody (left) and Tammy Sessions (President of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling) pose beneath the Volunteer Park water tower following the group photo. Now retired, both were nationally ranked professional motorcycle racers.

While the classic motorcycles featured here are more reliable than their early counterparts, their riders are no less passionate about their choice of conveyance. Samuelsen waxes poetic about motorcycling zen:

“It’s nothing like riding in a car. And if you slow down a bit, you can see everything — farmland, mountains, ocean — and become part of nature. It provides direct immersion into the world.”

WEB EXTRAS

For our usual 360 video, narrated by Jean Sherrard, vroom over here.

In addition, we offer several bonbons of motorcycle memorabilia and documentation, most supplied by the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, now celebrating its 30th anniversary.

First, let’s supply a few additional details concerning our Now and Then photos, courtesy of Tom Samuelsen, PNWMoM senior historian:

“The THEN photo depicts the Seattle Motorcycle Club (SMC) member’s First Annual Endurance Run that was to be held on July 3-4, 1910. This was the first real endurance tour in the history of the Pacific Northwest. Valuable prizes were offered for the best score. This run was held under the sanction of the Federation of American Motorcyclists. Each rider was credited with 1000 points at the 7am start in Seattle’s Pioneer Place, now called Pioneer Square. Rules stated that for each minute late or each minute early at the control timing points there would be 2 points deducted. The run also included one secret control check. The average speed of 20 miles per hour kept riders safe on the dirt roads and trails up Mt. Rainier and they rode far beyond the highest point reached by auto or carriage. 

Ashley’s Motorcycle Shop. 1910 Seattle Endurance run check point.

“They returned to the town of Elbe where they spent the night. The next morning, they rode to Olympia and checked in at Ashley’s Motorcycle Shop in Tumwater then took lunch at the Carlton Hotel, leaving Olympia at 1:15pm after a pass through several check stations in Tacoma and Kent.

Lunch stop for Seattle Motorcycle club on July 4th, 1910

Seattle was reached at 6:00pm with the last check at the Seattle Times Building. Two silver cups and several prizes were awarded to the dusty riders. Of the 32 starters all but four riders made it. Perfect scores were earned by seven riders as follows: C.R. Roy, 6 ½ Yale; Lee Dagner, 7 Indian A.W. Hirsch, 4 H-D; Nels Christopher, Fred Walker, Paul Koch and B.S. Klein all of whom rode 4hp Excelsiors. (Article by the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling)

“The NOW photo features members of the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling, co-organizers of the re-creation of the 1910 Seattle Motorcycle Club photo. It was taken on May 22, 2022, just south of Volunteer Park’s historic Water Tower on 14th Avenue East for the Seattle Times ‘Now & Then’ pages in the weekly Pacific NW Magazine. Jean Sherrard and the Pacific Northwest Museum of Motorcycling (PNW MoM) have collaborated to recreate the images of early motorcycle history multiple times. 

“Front row, L-R; Jack Mackey holding the minutes of the Seattle Motorcycle Club’s 1910 ride planning. Most of the motorcyclists pictured are members of the PNW MoM and the Vintage Motorcycle Enthusiast (VME). Tom Samuelsen holds a photo taken in Seattle on July 3, 1910 at the starting point of the Endurance Run; Tammy Sessions (PNW MoM President) hold SMC records from 1910. Tad Dean, Jeff Earle, Chris Sharon, Paul Henderson, Emily Mullens (leader of the all-women’s motorcycle group Rainier Ravens) also appear, l-r. 

“Several motorcycle groups are represented in the current photo, including Mike Coski representing the historic Tacoma Motorcycle Club (also formed in 1910), and Cretin’s MC members, Knuckle Busters MC members, and other prominent members of the motorcycle industry.

(again, click twice to expand to full size)

Plus a couple of Seattle Motorcycle Club treasures from 1910. Just below, a copy of the actual minutes of the club committing to the endurance tour.

A menu from the SMC 1910 banquet, celebrating a successful summer of touring:

Of special note, the fish entree: “Scallop of Pedal au Spring Fork”. For dessert, “Endurance Run Pudding”.

Click twice to enlarge!

(Incidentally, the Firloch Club was most likely at the same spot as today’s Seattle’s Tennis Club.)

For both enthusiasts and the moto-curious, here are a slew of candid photos taken of participants in the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride. Thanks to all the easy riders who joined in!

A late-breaking extra and mea culpa! A photo of the Seattle Motorcycling Club at the start of its 1911 endurance tour, also near Pioneer Square, was misdated as 1910 (due to operator error!).

THEN EXTRA : Motorcycle club members rendezvous near Pioneer Square in 1911 for another endurance tour to Mt. Rainier. (Courtesy MOHAI)
June 9, 1991, “Now & Then,” Seattle Times.

Seattle Now & Then: Denny Hall, 1895

THEN: The family of Carrie Coe stands near Denny Hall circa 1895. Named to honor the “father of the university,” Arthur A. Denny, the building was the first of many that filled the new north-end campus. Enough construction materials remained to erect a second building nearby, the still-extant observatory.(Courtesy Lucy Coe)
NOW: A young family hailing from the south of France visits the UW campus on a chilly day in May. With graceful curves and towers and a light-colored stone exterior, chateau-like Denny Hall might have been transplanted from their homeland. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN 2: The Dailey family in 1915. Arthur Dailey is seated at center, with Agnes Johnson Dailey at right. Sherrard’s maternal grandmother Dorothy Dailey, then 9 years old, stands at far left.

(Published in The Seattle Times online on June 9, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on June 12, 2022)

All-in-one Denny Hall arose first on UW’s relocated campus
By Jean Sherrard

The proudest day of my great-grandfather’s life was the one marking his graduation from the University of Washington.

Arthur Dailey had arrived in Seattle two months before the Great Fire of 1889 from Kalamazoo, Michigan, soon finding a teaching job. At the advanced age of 30, he hoped that a collegiate diploma would assure his future.

With the rest of his 18-member class of ’97, displaying the school colors of purple and gold, he enthusiastically chanted the school cheer based on Chinook jargon that conveyed bravery and strength:

  1. of W., Siah! Siah!
    U. of W., Hiah! Hiah!
    Skookum, Skookum, Washington!

This first graduation on the new UW campus, held May 28, 1897, marked another milestone in its 36-year history.

The school was founded on 10 acres downtown in 1861 by Arthur Armstrong Denny (1822-1899), leader of a 22-member party that had arrived on Alki only 10 years earlier. By 1891, the UW was bursting at its seams. Seattle’s population had exploded to more than 50,000, inhibiting further expansion.

To redress the pinch, the state Legislature approved relocating the UW to the then-rural Brooklyn Addition on the shores of Union Bay. The elderly Denny, still a tireless higher-education supporter, donated most of the 350 acres for a campus with room to boom.

Ground was broken for the university’s first north-end structure in 1894. A French Renaissance design by Charles W. Saunders (1858-1935) topped 24 other submitted sets of drawings. The resulting Administration Building, later renamed Denny Hall, came in well under its $150,000 budget, fed by low labor costs stemming from the depression of 1893.

Its 20,000 square feet housed all six of the university’s colleges and included 10 classrooms, a 6,000-volume library, faculty and administration offices and a 736-seat auditorium, all crowned by a belfry.

In September 1895, the edifice, comprising four floors of light-colored Enumclaw sandstone and pressed brick, trimmed with terra cotta and outfitted with the latest heating and plumbing, welcomed more than 200 students.

Our “Then” photo was snapped using Carrie Coe’s camera, likely in 1895, during a family outing to admire the newly completed building. Her husband, Dr. Frantz Coe, after whom Queen Anne Hill’s Coe School is named, was a future Seattle school-board member and friend of the Dennys. The tangle of bushes and a fresh-cut stump provide evidence of still-undeveloped wilderness on every side.

For his part, my great-grandpa Dailey made good use of the sheepskin, serving as principal to schools across the region. By 1899, he felt secure enough to marry his sweetheart, Ballard schoolteacher Agnes Johnson.

WEB EXTRAS

For our 360 degree narrated video version of this column, please take a short trip here!

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle Harbor Water Tours, 1952

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THEN 1: During shirtsleeve weather in late summer 1952. The Smith Tower barely peeks out above an Alaskan Way Viaduct nearing completion and free of traffic in this Boyd Ellis postcard. A one-hour Seattle Harbor Water Tours trip cost only $1. (courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: A somewhat wider view looks southeast at Pier 54. The Bremerton Fast Ferry, seating 118 passengers, pauses at its temporary berth at Pier 54. At 75 feet long, it has a beam of 27 feet. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on May 26, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 29, 2022)

Visitors aboard a 1950s waterfront tour had to walk the prank
By Jean Sherrard

During her first visit to Seattle, Gwendolyn Dixon wrote home to her parents in tiny Green City, Mo., that she having a whale of a time. On the backside of this Boyd Ellis postcard, postmarked Aug. 25, 1953, she mentioned plans to take a one-hour boat tour of the harbor.

THEN 2: The back of the postcard sent by Gwendolyn Dixon to her parents in Green City, Mo. The town’s population has remained in the mid-600s since the 1950s. (courtesy Ron Edge)

Would that we could scratch and sniff Ellis’ photo, snapped a year earlier in 1952! A pungent working waterfront would spring to life.

Add the sound of ferry whistles, harbor gulls and the booming voice of Seattle Harbor Water Tours’ barker Rudi Becker (lower left) for full effect. The skipper on the flying bridge is likely Lynn Campbell or Joe Boles, company co-owners.

Campbell and Boles were particularly proud of their recent acquisition, named for a freak swell that nearly capsized the vessel on its passage from San Diego. After a $21,000 repair and facelift, the owners claimed the Wave was unique on the waterfront. Though sporting a conventional, 50-foot-long hull with a 13-foot beam, the cabin featured large, stainless-steel-framed, shatterproof panes of glass, providing spectacular harbor views for its 68 passengers.

And business boomed. Tourists and locals alike took in waterfront highlights, from Coast Guard weather ships and Smith Cove to United Fruit Company’s banana terminal. Most impressive, Campbell said, were the Todd drydocks at Harbor Island, “where you get to see how big a ship really is … and wonder how anything so heavy can float.”

During evening tours, Becker, a self-described “wharf rat,” could be heard tickling eager passengers: “By special permission of the chamber of commerce, we are permitted to include on this trip the sight of the setting sun.”

In the postcard’s background, above Alaskan Way, looming are pale concrete ribs of the nearly completed viaduct, which opened in April 1953. At right, near an octopus mural at the northeast corner of Pier 54, a mounted sign supplies evidence of Ivar Haglund’s aquarium. It drew many visitors for 18 years, until it was shuttered in 1956.

THEN 3 (possible online only): Ivar Haglund with one of his aquarium superstars, Oscar the Octopus. (courtesy Ivar’s)

A coda:

Joe Boles (1904-1962) made a late-life career change, improbably becoming the Northwest’s leading recording engineer, famously mastering the Wailers’ cover of “Louie, Louie.”

His partner, Lynn Campbell (1912-2013), offered harbor tours until his retirement, evolving the business into what is known today as Argosy Cruises.

Rudi Becker (1913-1976) served as a tour barker, wag and jokester for more than a decade. Watching tourists fill souvenir bottles with Elliott Bay water, he advised caution. “You better pour some out,” Becker said, “Come high tide, that bottle will break.”

Most tourists took it as Sound advice.

WEB EXTRAS

For our narrated 360 degree video of this column, please head over in this general direction.

And for further life aquatic, here’s a few photos of Ivar Haglund’s waterfront aquarium, courtesy of Ivar’s:

Ivar’s Aquarium interior
The Aquarium flyer
Ivar with another favorite, the legendary Patsy the seal
Eddie, formally known as “Keeper of the Seal”
A view of the fish tank

A late addition – the Times article from July 24, 1949 concerning the United Fruit Company’s Banana Terminal.

Seattle Now & Then: Denny Hill, 1903

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: The three bay windows of the Wayne Apartments at far left mark the start of Denny Hill’s incline prior to 1903. More than a hundred feet of its slopes were incrementally sluiced away through 1930, leaving behind flatland Belltown.
NOW1: Soon to be demolished, the Wayne Apartments’ bay windows (upper left) are partly concealed by foliage. Buster Simpson (left) and Steve Hall stand in the crosswalk at Second and Bell. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on May 12, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on May 15, 2022)

A surviving signpost to Belltown’s origins soon will fall
By Jean Sherrard

Some ancient parchment, as historians know, is scrubbed clean and rewritten upon while leaving behind faint traces of the original text. Such a page is known as a palimpsest.

When exploring the crosshatch of Seattle streets and architecture with this column’s founder Paul Dorpat two decades ago, I realized that his X-ray photographic vision of our ephemeral city included similar traces. The residues, like double exposures, appeared in unlikely places and cracked open historical clues and mysteries aplenty.

This week’s “Then” photo revisits an early discovery of Paul’s that cemented his vocation as historical detector and photographic repeater. He penned a lengthy account of his efforts in the Dec. 20, 1978, edition of the weekly Seattle Sun. The headline: “Digging Up the Past of the Late and Great Denny Hill.”

Perusing a photo collection, he came upon a portrait of the city unlike any he had seen. While “uncannily familiar,” this image did not seem to match Seattle’s existing topography. Paul concluded that it was a place “that had somehow lost its future, for it appeared to be in no way findable in our here and now.”

Then came a “Eureka!” moment.

With a magnifying glass, the name “Bell” emerged on a street sign. Familiar with Mama’s Mexican Restaurant at the corner of Second and Bell, Paul was thrilled to recognize the triple set of bay windows belonging to the Wayne Apartments, built in 1890.

The original clapboard had been covered with asbestos “war brick” siding, but the pictorial puzzle was solved. Denny Hill’s “back side,” 220 feet above sea level, was revealed in this rare, south-facing view of what today is called Belltown, captured just before an early regrade of 1903.

Among few remaining pre-regrade structures, the bay-windowed Wayne has shone prominently and repeatedly over four decades — in “Now & Then” in 1984 and in lectures and books, including our 2018 tome “Seattle Now & Then: The Historic Hundred.” The edifice has born witness to change, loss and the thrill of discovery.

But not for long.

In early April, we received word from artist Buster Simpson and Steve Hall, a preservation advocate with Friends of Historic Belltown, that the Wayne and adjacent structures along Second Avenue soon will be destroyed. Though they achieved landmark status in 2015, exemptions to the ruling are allowing a prospective 9-floor retail-residential building to fill the space. Its height will more than match the original summit of Denny Hill.

In the rueful words of historian David B. Williams, modern developers seem to be “merely rebuilding the hill one banal building at a time.”

WEB EXTRAS
THEN2: This rare 1895 view looks northwest from the top of Denny Hill, on the bluff above Second Avenue. At right, the home at 216 Lenora Street belonged to Seattle ex-mayor Robert Moran, who also snapped the photo. (Courtesy Hal Will)

NOW2: Increasingly decrepit, the Wayne’s 132-year-old sagging roofline soon will be replaced by a 9-floor building, with retail on the bottom and apartments above. (Jean Sherrard)A few photos of the soon-to-vanish icon follow. Accompanied by Buster Simpson, I explored the back of the old Wayne apartments and crawled up a couple rotting staircases. A special prize for those who find the pigeon eggs.

 

Seattle Now & Then: Little White Church in Silvana, ca. 1905

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Like a Dutch Masters landscape painting, the Little White Church on the Hill anchors a pastoral scene. The Stillaguamish River curves just below, while the distant bluffs of Camano Island peep above the central horizon. The church’s steeple was added in 1904. Our best guess is that this photo was taken before 1910. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW 1: A remarkably similar landscape shows that little has changed in this rural landscape since our “Then” photo was snapped from atop the bluff. The Stillaguamish River, now screened by evergreens, still overflows its banks on occasion. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 2: Captured on a clear day in mid-March, the Little White Church includes the grounds of Zion Lutheran Cemetery, where a number of pioneer families are buried. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW 3: In an east-facing photo, the pioneer church gleams in late afternoon light. The “Then” and “Now” portraits were taken from the bluff above the structure. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on April 21, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 24, 2022)

With a peaceful view, Silvana’s Little White Church endures
By Jean Sherrard

In an increasingly discordant world, we scan for hopeful signs and clues – some are lodged in the past. One symbol of reunion and healing might be found on a rural hillside an hour’s drive north of Seattle.

The tiny town of Silvana, founded in the 1880s by Scandinavian farmers, was both blessed and cursed by the fertile floodplain of the Stillaguamish River. To accommodate the river’s oft-overflowing banks, its houses and sidewalks were raised several feet above ground level.

Little surprise, then, that the vigorous young congregation of Zion Lutheran, led by itinerant pastor Christian Jorgensen, decided to build its church and adjacent graveyard on a hill above the river. The land had been donated by farmer S.A. Erickson in 1884 and on Dec. 3, 1888, the parishioners drew up formal plans for their parish.

As documented by Zion Lutheran’s historian Irene Vognild, the church’s 1890 construction proved no small task. Existing roads were “muddy, crooked trails along the riverbanks.” Without rail or paved highways to provide access, all finished lumber had to be towed east on scows from a sawmill in equally tiny Utsalady on Camano Island.

The materials were to be offloaded onto carts and drawn by oxen to the building site. But that year’s early winter, Vognild recounts, was one of the severest in the region’s history. Church members credited divine intervention when the Stillaguamish froze solid, ensuring much easier transport by sled across the snowy river and up the hill.

Having spent just $750 on materials, the closely-knit farm community donated all labor, plus extra timber and shingles. The new church was erected in mere weeks, with grounds cleared for a nearby graveyard. Zion Lutheran Church’s first services were held that Christmas.

It wasn’t long before a divide over religious practices split the young congregation. Should this new church observe the rites and traditions of the State Church of Norway or adopt revised forms of worship?

The unhappy result, Vognild notes: “a break with friends and neighbors [who had] worshiped and worked together for years.” A minority faction left and built its own church in town, Salem Lutheran.

After nearly 70 years of division, the two churches set aside their differences and reunited in 1963, adopting a name reflecting the harmony: Peace Lutheran.

Today, the church comprises two structures — a practical 1978 building in downtown Silvana and the original Little White Church on the Hill, which was listed on the Washington State Heritage Register as a historic site in 1972.

The hillside church is open for summer services and for special occasions, including weddings and funerals.

WEB EXTRAS

Just a couple extra photos this week.

Seattle Now & Then: The St. Paul Maritime Museum, ca. 1934

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Signs reading “MARINE MUSEUM” and “OPEN” beckon visitors to the St. Paul, berthed just east of the Ballard (Hiram M. Chittenden) Locks in the mid-1930s. This image appears on an exceedingly rare postcard recently acquired by photo historian Ron Edge. When under sail, the vessel’s fully rigged acre of canvas was supported by nearly 15 miles of cordage. (Ron Edge collection)
NOW: Pictured in early March from the same rooftop vantage, atop a building now housing the Chittenden Locks’ administrative offices, the docks below are now home to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers debris recovery vessel, the MV Puget. Local institutions that showcase the subjects of the former St. Paul include the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society, pugetmaritime.org, and HistoryLink.org. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on April 7, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on April 10, 2022)

A 1930s Seattle maritime museum was both fleeting and floating
By Jean Sherrard

For local maritime historians, there once was a Camelot. During a brief stretch in the mid-1930s, the sailing ship St. Paul served as Seattle’s first and only floating nautical museum, ideally situated on the freshwater side of the Ballard Locks.

Built in Bath, Maine, in 1874, the 228foot-long vessel with a soaring 150-foot main mast was reasonably swift for its size. The St. Paul crossed the Atlantic in just 16 days and sailed between San Francisco and New York, rounding Chile’s Cape Horn, in a brisk 103 days.

After hauling cargo between Britain, America and the Far East for nearly three decades, the elegant square-rigged craft (identified by Bremerton maritime historian Michael Mjelde as a “down easter”) was consigned to service between Alaskan canneries and Seattle until its banishment to Lake Union in 1924 with other relics and obsolete tall ships destined for the scrap heap.

Only the timely intervention of a local band of fervent maritime and marine enthusiasts saved the St. Paul from demolition.

Founded in 1928, the Puget Sound Academy of Science dedicated itself to “the diffusion of scientific knowledge by means of … publications, expeditions and exhibits.” The brainchild of Henry Landes, dean of the University of Washington College of Science and husband of Seattle’s first female mayor, Bertha K. Landes, the academy also was the beneficiary of Arthur Foss, co-owner of Foss Launch and Tugboat Company.

A collector and history buff, Foss had purchased the St. Paul and offered it to the academy for use as a floating exhibit. Enlisting naturalist (and future peace activist) Floyd Schmoe as president, the group proposed a “marine museum,” merging maritime history and marine biology.

Schmoe’s promotional booklet asserted that the restored St. Paul would serve as the museum’s “chief exhibit. … Nothing will be placed on her deck or in her cabins which was not there when she was still in service.” Below the main deck would be “ample room for … exhibits of primitive and historical boats … and the story of man’s development of the ship.” Another lower deck would include a “salt-water aquarium (with) marine life from the waters and shores of Puget Sound.”

The Marine Museum and Aquarium opened June 16, 1934, welcoming thousands of visitors to its Ballard berth (admission: one dime) for the next two years. But the museum’s shining moment faded all too soon.

The wooden-hulled St. Paul fell victim to Northwest rain and a dearth of regular maintenance. In 1942, at age 68, the deteriorating vessel was towed to Vancouver Island’s Oyster Bay to be scuttled as a breakwater.

WEB EXTRA

For our narrated, audio-visual 360-degree version of this column, please click on through.

Seattle Now & Then: Our 2nd annual April Fools quiz

(Published in The Seattle Times online on March 24, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 27, 2022)

Distortion, half-truths, outright lies – our second April Fools’ quiz
By Jean Sherrard

(click to enlarge photos)

Yoshino cherry trees on the Quad at the UW in full bloom (Jean Sherrard)

As cherry trees blossom, we at Now & Then extend the welcome mat for our second annual April Fools’ Day quiz. We trust this exercise in historical whimsy will entertain and challenge in equal measure.

Please note that each question has a single correct answer. All other choices are larded with distortion, half-truths and outright lies!

THEN1: The Blob, photographed in 1986, squatting on the northwest corner of First Avenue North and Roy Street, literally stopped traffic during its construction. (CARY TOLMAN, MUSEUM OF HISTORY & INDUSTRY, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLLECTION)

Question 1

A BLOB BY ANY OTHER NAME Originally Clyde’s Cleaners, built in 1946 to serve lower Queen Anne Hill, the building was refashioned in 1984 into the ferroconcrete mound popularly known as The Blob. Detested and beloved in equal measure, the structure was demolished in 1997. What was The Blob’s original purpose?

A: Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s nascent first draft of MoPOP (his Museum of Popular Culture), also colloquially known as The Blob.

B: The bulbous Moorish fort/Spanish villa themes were the brainchild of developer Anthony Dadvar, who intended to house a Mediterranean/Mexican restaurant, the Isla del Sol.

C: The last Queen Anne communal dwelling of the Love Family, a New Age religious group founded in the late 1960s.

D: An early and failed attempt at architectural 3D printing, engineered by noted inventor John Williams.

E: A movie set constructed for Ridley Scott’s megahit “Aliens” (1986), never used in actual filming.

THEN2: Masked men and women pose in downtown Seattle on Third near Washington in late October 1918. (Paul Dorpat Collection)

Question 2

WHO WAS THAT MASKED MAN? In early fall 1918, the misnamed “Spanish” flu raged throughout the Northwest. On Oct. 6, city health commissioner Dr. J.S. McBride and Mayor Ole Hanson ordered the closure of schools, churches and theaters to combat infection (you know the drill). On Oct. 28, they added a mandatory mask order. Seattleites largely obeyed, until tearing off and twirling their masks to celebrate what notable event?

A: Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918.

B: Santa’s arrival by reindeer-drawn sled in Pioneer Square on Nov. 30, 1918.

C: The conclusion of the five-day Seattle General Strike on Feb. 11, 1919.

D: The return of the 63rd Coast Artillery from World War I on March 12, 1919.

E: The mask order was never suspended.

THEN3: The ferry Elwha prepares to blow its whistle departing from Colman Dock in about 1970. A newly built and still lonely SeaFirst Tower stands sentinel at center. (Frank Shaw, Paul Dorpat Collection)

Question 3:

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS WHISTLE Vessels of the Black Ball Line, from which today’s Washington State Ferries are directly descended, signaled arrivals and departures with whistle blasts. To this day, each captain and vessel employs signature toots. Which is the standard whistle sequence used by Seattle ferries?

A: A single melancholy blast.

B: Three medium-long honks, translating “S” for Seattle into Morse Code.

C: One long and two short toots, known by maritime afficionados as “a warp and two woofs.”

D: All signal patterns are at the captain’s discretion, reflecting the skipper’s mood.

E: Short, repeat blasts, used solely as small-craft warnings during a pea-soup fog.

NOW: Looking west across Second Avenue, the triangular “Sinking Ship” garage illustrates the 30-degree angle between Yesler and James streets that divides the grid of downtown streets. (Jean Sherrard)

Question 4 (see “Now” photo):

THIRTY DEGREES OF SEPARATION Many readers will be familiar with the popular mnemonic: “Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest,” muttered under locals’ breaths to recall the sequence of downtown streets. Yet all bets are off at Pioneer Square, where, north from Yesler, every street veers 30 degrees to the northwest, resulting in an odd tangle of angles. How did this come about?

A: The Seattle Fault runs directly under Yesler. In 1854, an earthquake caused massive seismic displacement, forever altering the shape of the young city.

B: South of Yesler, soggy tideland marshes made accurate mapping impossible.

C: Yesler was the clergy-mandated northern boundary of Seattle’s original red-light district. Its angled streets, pontificated Rev. David Blaine in 1855, supplied “ample warning of a turn to sin.”

D: Unresolved land-plat disputes between early white settlers David “Doc” Maynard, Arthur Denny and Carson Boren resulted in colliding street grids.

E: Fake news. Cartographers and geographers are complicit in promoting this fictional twist. Actual Seattle streets run straight as an arrow.

Answers

1:B

2:A

3:C

4: D

The rubric

One correct answer:
You’re a Mercer Mess.

Two correct answers:
You tore down the Viaduct!

Three correct answers:
You’re a Pike Pundit.

Four correct answers:
You’ve attained Seattle Chill.

Seattle Now & Then: Anders Wilse’s waterfront

THEN 1: Perched atop the roof of the Seattle Fish Company warehouse on then-Pier 8, Anders Wilse captures a southwest view of Seattle’s late 1890s waterfront. Schwabacher’s Wharf was eventually renamed Pier 58 in 1944, reconstructed as Waterfront Park in 1974, and collapsed into Elliott Bay in September 2020. A reimagined Waterfront Park is to open on new pilings in 2024. (courtesy MOHAI)
NOW: The same view from Pier 59, now home to the Seattle Aquarium. Diamond Ice’s wooden buildings were replaced in 1912 by a concrete structure, now a Public Storage facility. Keen eyes might spot a top slice of the remaining Hotel Vendome, directly above the facility’s fire escape. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on March 10, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 13, 2022)

Home was where photographer Anders Wilse’s heart ended up – after beating a successful path to Seattle
By Jean Sherrard

“You can’t go home again” was a sentiment my great-grandfather would have echoed. Ole Andreas Ringseth (“Daddy Andrew” to his extended family) was part of the Norwegian diaspora between 1860 and 1910, emigrating in 1902 from tiny Liabygda on Norway’s west coast to Tacoma, never to return.

One of his enterprising countrymen, 19-year-old Anders Beer Wilse had arrived in Minneapolis 18 years earlier. As a civil engineer with the ever-expanding railroads, he soon rolled  to the Pacific Northwest.

THEN 2: A studio portrait of Anders Beer Wilse, taken soon after his 1890 arrival in Seattle.

Uniquely, Wilse began documenting his surveying and cartography with photography, at which he became increasingly skilled. In 1897, he quit his day job and opened a photo studio in Seattle, fortuitously just as Gold Rush fever infected the city. Over the next three years, he captured the booming city and its environs.

Wilse’s portrait of Seattle’s Colman Dock during the Yukon Gold Rush.

In our evocative “Then” photo, snapped from a wharf at the foot of Pike Street on a sunny afternoon, a half-dozen pedestrians belie an increasingly active waterfront. At least five train tracks run along Railroad Avenue in front of Schwabacher’s Wharf, where the USS Portland, bearing a ton of Yukon gold, docked in July 1897.

Diamond Ice and Storage, founded in 1893, advertised its product as “The Best Ice — No Core in It,” available for home delivery.

The Hotel Diller, still standing today at the southeast corner of First and University, can be seen behind the crisply whitewashed ice-plant smokestack, across the street from its northern neighbor, the Hotel Vendome. On the skyline, past an oddly tall waterfront light standard, the King County Courthouse tower peeps out.

Wilse’s Seattle Photographic Company soon became profitable, hiring three assistants, including Ira Webster and Nelson Stevens, founders of the renowned Webster and Stevens photographic studio.

In spring 1900, Wilse sent his young family back to Norway for what was intended to be a short visit. By summer’s end, however, his wife, Helen, sent word that she had no interest in returning to Seattle. With no small regret, Wilse left his adopted country — and camera equipment — behind, opening a second photography studio in Oslo in 1901. But Helen’s instincts proved sound.

On the verge of regaining independence from Sweden in 1905, Norway provided an ideal subject for a talented photographer. Wilse dedicated himself to documenting its emerging cultural identity, recording more than 200,000 photographs until his death in 1949.

THEN 3: Norway’s 500 kroner banknote, featuring Wilse’s photograph of a 1901 rescue lifeboat, the RS 14 Stavanger.

Today, his iconic images adorn Norwegian postage stamps and currency. Late in life, he expressed what might be a photographer’s credo: “I sought to capture for eternity the beauty of Norway’s landscape … something I believe can be of meaning to our descendants.”

WEB EXTRAS

For our 360 video portrait of the waterfront, featuring Wilse’s original photo and Jean’s narration, go here.

For more on the remarkable life of Anders Wilse, click through to Carolyn Marr’s 1994 essay for Columbia Magazine. Scroll down for illuminating and fascinating details of this gifted photographer’s life.

And thanks to Michael Mjelde for pointing out the identity of the vessel in our late 1890s “then” photo – the steamship Rosalee: