Still quite glorious in its diversity and wide appeal, Folklife is surely one of the planet’s great festivals. As Baby Gramps reflected on Sunday evening, in the Newport Folk Festivals heyday, it drew a respectable crowd of 50,000 –Folklife brings out five times that many. A few snaps from my all-too brief visit yesterday evening and this afternoon.
For this “Fair and Festival” installment we repeat a Pacific feature we printed earlier in , but now additions to help you, dear reader, find the spot more easily with aerial photographs and other points of view. The Eaton Apartments were set at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Thomas Street and so kitty-korner from Sacred Heart Catholic Church, once it lost its parish on 6th and Bell in 1928 to the last of the Denny Regrades. The long sky-lighted pavilion built there for Century -21 was named, for the fair, the Domestic Commerce and Industry Building (aka Hall of Industry.) It faced the Plaza of States (aka Flag Plaza). After the fair the building got a new and sensible name: The Flag Plaza Pavilion. It was home in 1978 for King Tut’s first lucrative visit to Seattle. The Eaton Apartments covered about one-third of the Flag Plaza footprint – the most westerly third. We will point it out again below in a 1928 aerial photograph and also in Frank Shaw’s colored slide of the apartment’s back or north facade during its last months before being razed for the fair.
Above: Looking kitty-corner across Thomas Street and Second Ave. North to the Eaton Apartments, ca. 1940. It is a rare recordings of Seattle Center acres before their make-over for the 1962 Century 21. Below: Jean Sherrard visited the intersection during the recent playing of the Folklife festival 2012, and “captured” folk-jazz artist Erik Apoe, with his guitar, leaving the festival after his performance. Bottom: During the 2012 Bumbershoot Jean returned to the corner which included then – for the duration of Bumbershoot – one of the escape gates from the ticketed festival. With his press credentials hanging from this next (although this year they were merely stuck to his shirt) Jean could easily come and go.
THE EATON APARTMENTS
(First appeared in Pacific, Aug. 8, 2010)
I know nothing about the provenance of this photograph, except that it showed up as a thoughtful anonymous gift on my front porch among a small bundle of negatives. Still with the help of a tax card, a few city directories, and a scattering of other sources we can make some notes.
With his or her back to Sacred Heart Catholic Church, an unknown photographer looked northeast through the intersection of Second Avenue North and Thomas Street. The Eaton Apartment House across the way was built in 1909 – in time perhaps for the city’s first world’s fair. It held 19 of everything: tubs, sinks, basins, through its 52 plastered rooms. In the 1938 tax assessment it is described as in “fair condition” with a “future life” of about 13 years. In fact, it held the corner for a full half century until it was leveled to build Seattle’s second worlds fair.
The Eaton and its nearby neighbor, the Warren Avenue School, were two of the larger structures razed for Century 21. However, the neighborhood’s biggest – the Civic Auditorium, Ice Arena, and the 146th Field Artillery Armory – were given makeovers and saved for the fair. Built in 1939, the old Armory shows on the far right. Although not so easy to find it is also in the “now” having served in its 71 years first as the Armory, then the ’62 fair’s Food Circus, and long since the Center House.
This is part of David and Louisa Denny’s pioneer land claim, which Salish history explains served for centuries as a favorite place to snag low-flying ducks and hold potlatches. The oldest user of the Eaton Apt site was even more ancient. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) brought King Tut, or at least parts of his tomb, to the Flag Pavilion in 1978. It was about then that Andy Warhol also showed up to party with SAM in the old pavilion, which in 2002 was replaced and greatly improved with the Fisher Pavilion.
Readers who have old photographs of this neighborhood from before the 1962 fair (they are rare) or of the fair itself might like to share them with historylink. That non-profit encyclopedia of regional history is preparing a book on the fair, one that will resemble, we expect, its impressive publication on the recent Alaska Yukon Pacific Centennial. As with the AYP book, the now hard-at-work authors are Paula Becker and Alan Stein. You can reach them by phone at 206-447-8140 or on line at Admin@historylink.org.
We will wrap No. 23 with another Frank Shaw photo. This one, we figure, looks north and a little east from what would become the Pacific Science Center. The Catholics, at the southeast corner of Second and Thomas, are here right-of-center, which is also often the position of its clerics if not always the parishioners. Far-right, is the yellow strut, beam, girder, stanchion, transverse on the east quadrant of the Coliseum and here under construction. It appears above where the Eaton Apartments would be standing – if they still were. Queen Anne Hill is on the horizon.
The next attraction south of yesterday’s Christian Witness, the Safeco (or General Insurance) sponsored Official Information Center, was also squirreled into the southwest corner of the future Seattle Center. Jean needed only a short walk south on Second Avenue from the Christians to reach the former site of the open-aired booth with a roof spread low like a turkey’s wings protecting her chicks. It was another eccentric Century-21 roof, in this instance suggesting a Japanese temple. The open inside was staffed with a few female fair polymaths who could – it was expected – answer every questions asked. The place was torn down in 1981 after nearly 20 post-fair years of service as a picnic shelter. Behind it (to the west) behaving like an eccentric tent or a very large box kite was set the Seattle-First International Bank “building.” Design by the fair’s lead architect, Paul Thiry, the bank’s box was destroyed following the fair.
The site is now home for part of the Children’s Garden. Jean Sherrard’s two examples, below, of youthful vigor resting their feet after a day of hide-and-seek are Ron Edge and myself.
In their golden celebration of Century 21 titled “The Future Remembered,” authors Paula Becker and Alan Stein give a touchstone history of the Christian Witness Pavilion (not to be confused with either the Christian Science Pavilion or the nearby Sermons From Science Pavilion.) “Two-thirds of the Christian Witness Pavilion was devoted to a children’s center, where children aged 3 to 7 got childcare mixed with evangelism. A 40-foot stained glass window [see here one the right] in the building’s facade was a major focal point, as was a 16-foot mosaic of 60,000 wooden blocks designed by Stanley Koth. [After the fair, Gethsemane Luther Church restored the blocks in their sanctuary’s narthex, while a Catholic church in St. Paul purchased the stain glass window.] The adult portion of the exhibit consisted of a small theater where visitors experienced a 10-minute sacred sound and light exhibition that employed a rocket launch countdown as metaphor for the journey through life.” By resembling, somewhat, one of the early satellites, the four-armed cross that topped the structure picked-up on the rocket metaphor. We learn as well from historylinkers Paula and Alan that 19 Protestant denominations and 14 Christian-centered agencies paid for this pavilion. The pavilion site is now part of the Center’s Children’s Garden but without the evangelism.
Perhaps the serendipitous promotion for the Christian Witness Pavilion was its best public relations. It’s hardwood substitute or variation on the Protestants favorite portrait of Jesus Christ, the one by the artist Solomon, arrived more than two months late. (Every Sunday-Schooler should remember it.)
The Solomon sub was lost twice by airlines but when it at last arrived in July it was met with rejoicing and press coverage at least in The Times.
By now one of Seattle’s most cherished landmarks, the Seattle Mural is Paul Horiuchi’s daring glass tile departure from the exquisite collages he constructed from soft and translucent materials like rice paper. While it is now called simply “The Seattle Mural” I imagine it as the Buddhist’s “well-packed region” that is everything – eventually. Follow any line through the mural and eventually – or ultimately – you will end up where you began, and then keep going. Have you sat in the grass for a concert there and wound up wondering through the mural?
For No. 16 we have move from No. 15 south across Republican Street through a portal between two fair buildings that have survived as parts of the Northwest Rooms of Seattle Center, which were once-upon-a-time home for much of Bumbershoot’s now largely lost Literary Arts program – both the readings and the book fair. For some of us this was the most evocative corner of Bumbershoot. While there is some literary art in rock it is not so varied or sustained as it was with Bumbershoot’s Literary Arts part or program.
During the fair looking east through the Fountain of Creation with the International Plaza’s pavilions on the left – future home for much Jazz and Literary Arts at Bumbershoot.
Jean’s “repeat” put him up against the wall. He remarked “things have been moved.”
Catching a wading Jean getting his shot of the Fountain of Creation from the pool.
The Canadian mark can be read in this twilight look over Everett DuPen’s fountain during the fair.
After the fair as a sign that the Century 21 campus was being turned into a working Seattle Center, this sketch of the fountain and its surrounds appeared in the times. We reprint the caption. FOUNTAIN: The World’s Fair Fountain near the Coliseum designed by Everett DuPen, Seattle sculptor, serves as the foreground for a newly remodeled exhibit-banquet hall occupying the former Canada Pavilion at the Seattle Center. The former Denmark Pavilion, right, will be inclosed and used as a permanent restaurant. (Seattle Times, March 9, 1964)
Named the “World of Commerce and Industry” and numbered “3,” the northwest corner of Century 21 was only a small sampler of the things it’s ambitious titles* claimed. Included – and here we consult the numbers on the map – were, at least, the United Nations, the African Information Center, Thailand, Philippines, India, Korea, San Marino, Peru and the City of Berlin, all of it west of Boulevard West (2nd Ave.) and north of Freedom Way (Republican Street). While the fair had its share of quasi-democracies – how could one have a worlds fair in 1962 without such fakers – there were, it seems, no Commies. And yet, and as well, how in 1962 could one have a worlds fair without commies. Now they would be welcomed investors. Long since this northwest corner is pretty much filled with the Bagley Wright Theatre. [*The buildings that nearly framed No. 3 were wrapped around the International Mall.]
Except for the temporary money gate at Bumbershoot, which with our press passes we had not need to either climb over or bust through, this repeat was pretty easy to figure. Jean and I both took repeats of the sunny Century 21 record of the southeast corner of the Food Circus. Jean in the full light, I in the twilight. His, I think, is the more accurate. In ’62 a stairway here then led up to something named La Balcone. Once inside, perhaps the stairs continued to the wrapping balcony that nearly circles the big hall. It may have been French food – perhaps Freedom Fries, named for liberty, equality and fraternity.
More than their latest models the Ford company’s Century-21 pavilion was about space, influenced by Sputnik and Buckminster Fuller – a geodesic cap or crown for thinking about space. On its “An Adventure in Outer Space” one flew through the close universe of planets and satellites. I did not visit it, but imagine that it was by today’s simulated trips a passive journey – like TV more than Disneyland. (Neither have I “visited” video games.) Even on Ford’s budget such a trip would be hard to create convincingly in 1962. But with a willing suspension of one’s critical faculties who needs to be convinced? Well, you and I do. This reminds me of the Great Fire of 1666 kinetic diorama at the Museum of London History, which Jean and I visited with a trot in 2005. For a recreation of the fire that flatted much of London one stood in a darkened closet and really suspended one’s disbelief while watching a jerky version of the fire grow through a window, as if seeing it across the Thames.
The Ford Pavilion was at the south end of Nob Hill beyond John and nearly up against Denny Way. Jean’s “now” is adjusted by a few feet to the east in order to include sculptor Alexander Liberman’s assemblage of industrial cylinders, some 40 feet long and sixty-four inches in diameter.