Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: Duwamish River, 1891

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Eight men, women and children, perhaps on a family outing, gather in 1891 at Cassell’s Point along the not-yet-industrial west bank of the Duwamish River. Beyond the group, to the southeast, is the Eighth Avenue bridge, which, starting in January 1892, carried a Grant Street Electric Railway streetcar connecting unincorporated South Park and Georgetown a half mile north of today’s South Park Bridge. (University of Washington Special Collections, LaRoche 159)
NOW: On the future site of a Seattle Public Utilities flood-reduction pump station and public open space along Riverside Drive in South Park, barges and docks cramp the view of the Duwamish. Socially distanced are (from left) author BJ Cummings; Paulina López, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition; and James Rasmussen, Duwamish tribal leader. Cummings’ book, “The River That Made Seattle” (University of Washington Press) will be launched online July 11 from the Duwamish Longhouse. (Jean Sherrard)

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

Seattle arose from a tortuously transformed Duwamish River
By Clay Eals

When we think of waters that define Seattle, which ones come to mind? Puget Sound and Elliott Bay, with Lake Washington and Lake Union close behind. Perhaps Green Lake. Don’t forget the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

But what about the seemingly invisible Duwamish River, harnessed (some say ravaged) beyond original recognition and poisoned beyond palatability? Shouldn’t it rise to the top?

That’s the question behind a new social and environmental history book with a provocative title: “The River That Made Seattle.” Is it really true that the Duwamish “made” our city?

Author BJ Cummings – serving for 25 years in leading roles for Puget Soundkeeper, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, Sustainable Seattle and the University of Washington Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences’ Superfund Research Program – “makes” a potent case.

For starters, she says, most of the waterways that surrounded and fed Seattle once drained through the Duwamish. Also, and not incidentally, the river is named for the tribe whose chief’s bowdlerized name became that of the city.

Cummings further points out that, contrary to commonly told history, the city’s first white settlers (she calls them “immigrants”) were not those who alighted Nov. 13, 1851, at Alki Beach but rather those bearing the names of Maple, van Asselt and Collins, who roosted two months earlier along the Duwamish.

In time, city-builders’ projects diverted or dried up feeder rivers so that by 1920, a watershed of more than 2,000 square miles had shrunk to fewer than 500. The spaghetti-like course of the Duwamish itself also had been straightened and the channel widened and deepened to make way for enormous ships and an industrial identity that nearly erased a tribal homeland.

Even so, portions of the original riverbed survive – some barely. One is shown in our “Then,” taken in 1891 from a bend in the Duwamish west bank (present-day South Park) called Cassell’s Point, named for longtime Seattle railroad engineer John Cassell, who may be the gent pointing the umbrella. This spot also lies across from where Chief Seattle paid his final visit to the river.

Though we strain today to imagine the river before unwieldy industry and its persistent pollutants transformed it, Cummings bears a bottomless affinity for its past via her long ties to the tribe and others who care about the Duwamish.

“This trashed river made its way into my heart,” she says. “There have been seven generations of immigrant history and 10,000 years of native history here. The city was built on the back of the river. The river gave the city the riches and the infrastructure it needed to grow, and it’s time for us to give back a little of that love.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are two additional photos, a video link and a clipping  from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The cover of BJ Cummings’ new book, “The River That Made Seattle.” (Courtesy BJ Cummings)
On May 13, 2020, Jean Sherrard (far right) shoots the 360-degree video for this column. Socially distanced are (from left) author BJ Cummings; Paulina López, executive director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition; and James Rasmussen, Duwamish tribal leader. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO: Click this photo to view a four-minute video of BJ Cummings talking about her new book. (Clay Eals)
Dec. 19, 1924, Seattle Times obituary for railroad engineer John Cassell.

Seattle Now & Then: Seattle’s Post Office, ca 1886

(click to enlarge photos — Clay and Paul advise, ‘Click again’)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 24, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on June 28, 2020)

In challenging times, the Post Office delivers human connection
By Jean Sherrard
THEN: On the northeast corner of Yesler Way and Post Avenue, Seattle’s main post office was erected in 1880. Historian Greg Lange suggests that it may have been Seattle’s first federal government building. The stately Post Building (right) housed the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, after which Post Avenue was named. The boxy post office seems drab by comparison. The Seattle fire consumed both in 1889. (courtesy Tim Boardman)
NOW1: Mail carrier Azuma Ohta looks west as she stands at Yesler and Post in front of post-fire buildings constructed of less-flammable brick and mortar. (Jean Sherrard)

When it opened in October 1852, Seattle’s first postal station was little more than a mahogany desk in Arthur Denny’s log cabin at what is now First and Marion.

It had been 11 months since the Denny Party landed at Alki Beach. The urge to connect with the outside world was strong. Even a pocket-sized post office offered settlers a sense of stability.

For The Seattle Times, Arthur’s daughter, Louisa, wryly recalled perching on her dad’s desk as he sorted mail when a boat came in: “It was not a monumental task, as there was very little mail coming and going.”

Decades later, however, our “Then” displays a hive of activity at Seattle’s downtown post office at the northeast corner of what is now Yesler Way and Post Avenue. The scrawled inscription, “Waiting for mail at Seattle’s Post Office,” explains the long lines, adding cryptically, “Mostly strangers.”

The note may offer a calendar clue. By late 1886, with an economy recovering from three years of recession, hundreds of “strangers” arrived seeking jobs. The newly employed no doubt eagerly queued for mail from families they had left behind. By fall 1887, crowds abated when the post office hired four mail carriers and began the tradition of free delivery.

To document today’s version of this practice, with permission from Seattle’s postmaster I recently joined 12-year postal veteran Azuma Ohta on her appointed rounds, starting at the Seattle Carrier Annex at Fourth and Lander, where days begin with sorting letters and packages.

Beyond snow, rain, heat and gloom of night, every carrier bears scars from being chomped by dogs, clawed by cats and stung by bees and wasps. Azuma is no exception. Twice-bitten, with one attack by a canine whose owner left a door ajar, she still identifies as a “dog person.”

During the pandemic, postal workers older than 60 and otherwise at high risk have been allowed to take several months off. Younger carriers have filled in, so Azuma has been working 75 hours a week, more than during the hectic holiday season.

Another unexpected effect of the coronavirus has been to boost the contents of carriers’ mailbags. “People are hungry for physical connection beyond Zoom and email,” she says. “They’re sending more cards and letters than I’ve ever seen before.”

Tagging along on her Capitol Hill route, I can see that Azuma is a beloved fixture. Passersby sing out cheerful greetings. She has watched babies become adolescents and witnessed love and loss, marriage and divorce.

Tim King often meets her at his door for a chat. “We adore Azuma,” he says. “She brightens our days, and these days can use some brightening.” By any measure, that’s a monumental task.

WEB EXTRAS

Be sure to visit our Seattle Now & Then 360 channel, where you can listen to and view this column in glorious 360 degree color! Jean narrates.

Every day starting at 7 AM, Ohta sorts mail for delivery at the Seattle Carrier Annex at Fourth and Lander.
Postal vehicles all in a row at Fourth and Lander
Azuma in the driver’s seat. She covers five routes per day.
Delivering mail upstairs and down
Azuma greets Capitol Hill resident Tim King.
Azuma, next to her mail truck on Capitol Hill, pauses for a chat with King.
In an average day, Ohta estimates she walks 5 to 10 miles
A Seattle postal van from 100 years ago, parked in front of King Street Station

 

Seattle Now & Then: Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX Drive-In, 1936

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THEN1: Facing southwest, Otto A. Kuehnoel poses in 1936 with five female staff in front of his Triple XXX Drive-In Lunch Station at 2822 Rainier Ave. S. Two years later, Sick’s Stadium opened behind the eatery. Parked at right, says automotive informant Bob Carney, is a 1930 or 1931 Ford Model A roadster. (Courtesy Bob Kuehnoel)
NOW: Standing at the Kuehnoel’s site, now the Mount Baker Transit Center for King County Metro, are (left) Bainbridge Island’s Chuck Flood, author of “Lost Restaurants of Seattle,” pnwhighwayhistory.com, and North Bend’s Greg Kuehnoel, grandson of Otto Kuehnoel. Greg holds a colorized 1940 photo of another Triple XXX stand on Fourth Avenue South, in which his grandpa was partnered. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 18, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on June 21, 2020)

Five-cent Triple XXX took root here as a popular 1930s brew
By Clay Eals

Before Google, there was “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.” My aunt Dorothy Johnson, sensing my pending writing career, presented 17-year-old me with the red-covered, 970-page reference treasury for Christmas in 1969.

Today I reach for Brewer’s to seek the origin of the term “XXX.” The sober tome has a coherent answer:

“X on beer casks formerly indicated beer which had paid the old 10s (shilling) duty, and hence it came to mean beer of a given quality. Two or three crosses are mere trademarks intended to convey the impression that the beer so marked was twice or thrice as strong as that which paid this duty.”

Thus, in 1920, when Prohibition took effect nationally, a Texas firm took note, appropriating the term by marketing a new, non-alcoholic beverage by the name of Triple XXX root beer. Soon, capitalizing on the automotive craze, the soft drink spread throughout the South via sales at barrel-shaped drive-ins.

The brand expanded west in the late 1920s, and the first of more than a dozen stands in our state took root along busy arterials. A Seattle Times ad called such franchises “a gold mine.”

The Triple XXX in our “Then” image opened in 1931. Owner Otto A. Kuehnoel (pronounced “KEE-no,” with a silent “L”) claimed a fortuitous site across McClellan Street from the Seattle Indians’ Dugdale Field and two blocks northwest of stately Franklin High School. The double-barreled drive-in drew droves of minor-league baseball fans and local teens to quaff 5-cent mugs of innocent brew.

Bob Kuehnoel in his late 50s in the early 1980s. (Courtesy Greg Kuehnoel)

Dugdale burned in 1932, but from its ashes Sick’s Stadium (later renamed Sicks’ Stadium) and the Seattle Rainiers arose in 1938, when Franklin phenom and future major-leaguer Fred Hutchinson became a draw. The late Bob Kuehnoel (Otto’s son) told me in a 2000 interview that “Hutch” and other players were mainstays at Triple XXX.

“That’s where all the action was,” said Kuehnoel, who washed dishes and swept the parking lot after school. “So many of these ballplayers practically adopted my mom and dad. It was like home to them.”

Intriguingly, the twin barrels were not a mere advertising shell. “One barrel was my parents’ bedroom, the other was mine, and my brother slept in the middle,” Bob said. “My bedroom was right over the pinball machines and the jukebox, so I learned at an early age to sleep through anything.”

Triple XXX barrels faded from the local scene by the 1960s. (A former barrel still operates as a Chinese restaurant on Lake City Way, and a Triple XXX thrives in Issaquah, though its barrel is flat, not three-dimensional.)

In these coronavirus days, all manner of take-out – and root beer – endure, and a fun mystery remains. Why the redundancy in “Triple XXX”? Not even the aptly named Brewer’s can say.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are three additional photos, four vintage Triple XXX menus (including two from Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX) and one Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX calendar, as well as 14 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

The 1969 edition of “Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable” given to Clay Eals by his aunt, Dorothy Johnson, in 1969. (Clay Eals)
The cover of Chuck Flood’s book “Lost Restaurants of Seattle,” available at pnwhighwayhistory.com. Five pages of the book are devoted to local Triple XXX Barrels.
AUDIO INTERVIEW: Click the photo to hear Clay Eals’ interview of Bob Kuehnoel on Sept. 30, 2000, at his Bainbridge Island home. The early part of the 54-minute interview covers the Triple XXX restaurant, and the rest focuses on Fred Hutchinson. (Photo courtesy Greg Kuehnoel)
1941 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, outside, orange. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1941 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, inside, orange. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1941 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, back, orange. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1953 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX calendar, outside. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
1953 Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX calendar, inside, with Seattle Rainiers schedule. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
Undated Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, outside, tan. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
Undated Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX menu, inside, tan. (Courtesy Charles Kapner)
One side of a 1941 menu from the Triple XXX Barrel in Ballard. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
The other side of a 1941 menu from the Triple XXX Barrel in Ballard. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
One side of the 1951 menu of the Triple XXX Barrel on Fourth Avenue South. (Ron Edge)
The other side of the 1951 menu from the Triple XXX Barrel on Fourth Avenue South. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
An insert of specials from the 1951 menu of the Triple XXX Barrell on Fourth Avenue South. (Courtesy Ron Edge)
July 21, 1955, Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX. (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Rainier Valley Historical Society)
Feb. 14, 1958, Kuehnoel’s Triple XXX. (Puget Sound Regional Archives, courtesy Rainier Valley Historical Society)
The Triple XXX Barrell at Fourth Avenue South. (Courtesy Chuck Flood and Ron Edge)
June 20, 1930, Seattle Times, page 39.
July 13, 1934, Seattle Times, page 26.
April 17, 1940, Seattle Times, page 19.
May 1, 1940, Seattle Times, page 11.
May 1, 1940, Seattle Times, page 30.
Aug. 21, 1940, Seattle Times, page 15.
Sept. 29, 1940, Seattle Times, page 32.
Oct. 15, 1940, Seattle Times, page 12.
Sept. 27, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
June 18, 1945, Seattle Times, page 11.
Sept. 14, 1949, Seattle Times, page 27.
Feb. 13, 1955, Seattle Times, page 24.
April 28, 1955, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 5, 1958, Seattle Times, page 14.

Seattle Now & Then: WWII scrap metal drive, 1942

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THEN1: “Armed” with a cap gun, Jerry Calnan, 5, guards a depleted pile of castoff metal near his Beacon Hill home for a regional, wartime scrap-metal drive in October 1942. (Seattle Times, courtesy Bob Carney)
THEN2: A billboard for the October 1942 scrap drive anchors an empty parcel that served as a drop-off site for metal between Denny Way and Broad Street between Second and Third avenues. Historian Bob Carney, who scooped up our “Then” photos, says the campaign reflected a time “when everyone pulled together for a common purpose.” (Courtesy Bob Carney)
NOW: Looking east at the billboard site is Dave Swaintek of nearby JDog Junk Removal and Hauling. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 11, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on June 14, 2020)

Keen-eyed kid embodies Seattle’s zeal for 1942 scrap drive
By Clay Eals

You might call Jerry Calnan a scrappy little sheriff.

The 5-year-old leveled an intense glare when photographed in October 1942 sitting on an old water heater and guarding other castoff metal near his Beacon Hill home in South Seattle.

With zeal similar to today’s quest to slow the coronavirus, Jerry spent two days protecting items amassed by his neighborhood for a massive regional scrap-metal drive to support the U.S. military during World War II. Overnight, however, before Army vehicles could arrive to pick up the load, metal rustlers made off with nearly half the heap.

“He had placed several of his toys – old automobiles and trucks – in the pile,” reported The Seattle Times on Oct. 15. “A neighbor boy took some of them, and Jerry, with his sister, Mary Ellen, marched right down and put them back.” A photo caption added, “That was when Jerry decided to buckle on his toy pistol and holster.”

Theft was a challenge addressed by the Oct. 4-18 volunteer drive, which matched efforts nationwide. Ads in Seattle’s three sponsoring dailies – Times, Post-Intelligencer and Star – urged “every boy and girl” to “appoint yourselves guardians of the scrap metal piles in your block.”

Stories, editorials, photos and cartoons displayed boundless fervor. Full-page ads cited scores of items to contribute toward recycling and military-equipment building, from vacuum cleaners and garden tools to golf clubs and washing machines. Visiting First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even cited the Seattle campaign in her national “My Day” column.

The word “scrap” blanketed headlines, sometimes rhyming with the racist pejorative for the war’s overseas enemy. Others declared: “If you want to keep these fighters ‘in the scrap,’ then you must get busy and ‘get out the scrap.’ ”

Humor also held sway. Sports columnist Sandy McDonald wrote, “One unhappy baseball fan telephones to point out that in his opinion there is a lot of old junk on the Rainiers squad that well might be scrapped.”

Oct. 25, 1942, Seattle Times

The total haul, divvied among West Seattle’s Bethlehem Steel, Ballard’s Northwest Steel Rolling Mills and other processors, was enormous: 67.4 million pounds, “or about 133 pounds for every person in King County,” said Leo Weisfield, salvage chair for the Civilian War Commission.

“Beyond any question, this unselfish, patriotic effort was the greatest promotion or drive ever held in Seattle,” he claimed. “The campaign not only made highly significant contributions to the nation’s war effort, but it developed a unified spirit among our citizens.”

Surely the success pleased young Jerry Calnan. He died far too soon, of cancer at age 17 in 1954, but today relatives recall an intelligent, adventurous, inventive lad with dark eyes and eyebrows – and that glare.

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!

We extend special thanks to Bob Carney and Michelle Weinhardt (niece of the late Jerry Calnan) for their assistance in the preparation of this column.

Below are 16 additional photos as well as 64 clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column. The initial extras relate to Jerry Calnan, and the rest address the scrap drive.

Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 9
Oct. 17, 1942, wire-service caption for Jerry Calnan photo.
May 9, 1946, Seattle Times, page 9, Jerry Calnan in list.
Nov. 21, 1949, Seattle Times, page 38, obituary for Jerry Calnan’s father.
Feb. 24, 1950, Seattle Times, page 22, Jerry Calnan’s sister Mary Ellen.
Jerry Calnan at eighth-grade graduation. (Courtesy Michelle Weinhardt)
Jerry Calnan in race car, circa 1953-1954. (Courtesy Michelle Weinhardt)
Jerry Calnan with race car, circa 1953-1954. (Courtesy Michelle Weinhardt)
June 6, 1954, Seattle Times, page 61, obituary for Jerry Calnan.
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive, including sign with racist pejorative. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. See caption below. (Seattle Times, courtesy Bob Carney)
October 1942 scrap drive. Caption for photo above. (Seattle Times, courtesy Bob Carney)
August 1943 scrap. See caption below. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
August 1943 scrap. Caption for photo above. (Courtesy Bob Carney)
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 7, excerpt from Sandy McDonald column.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 26.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 27.
Oct. 4, 1942, Seattle Times, page 40.
Oct. 5, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 5, 1942, Seattle Times, page 5.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 6, 1942, Seattle Times, page 6.
Oct. 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 7, 1942, Seattle Times, page 15.
Oct. 8, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 8, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 8, 1942, Seattle Times, page 17.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 9.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 18.
Oct. 9, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 10, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 11, 1942, Seattle Times, page 7.
Oct. 11, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 11, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 13, 1942, Seattle Times, page 14.
Oct. 14, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 8.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 16.
Oct. 15, 1942, Seattle Times, page 23.
Oct. 16, 1942, Seattle Times, page 12.
Oct. 17, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 17, 1942, Seattle Times, page 3.
Oct. 17, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 18, 1942, Seattle Times, page 62.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 1.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 13.
Oct. 19, 1942, Seattle Times, page 14.
Oct. 20, 1942, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 25, 1942, Seattle Times, page 15.
Oct. 23, 1944, Seattle Times, page 3.

Seattle Now & Then: Plymouth Church marks its 150th anniversary

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THEN: With its distinctive pillars, Plymouth’s third church building, completed in 1912, stood facing east on Sixth Avenue between Seneca and University Streets (ca. 1939). After structural damage from the 1965 Puget Sound earthquake, it was demolished and replaced by the current building. (Museum of History and Industry)
NOW1: The Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown, lead pastor since 2017, stands in Plymouth Pillars Park overlooking downtown to the west. The columns, original to Plymouth’s third church building, were purchased by John and Anne Gould Hauberg and donated to the city. They were installed in October 1967 on the tiny, triangular parcel at the corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Jean Sherrard)
NOW2: Today’s Plymouth is one of the last of what Brown calls “big steeple churches” in downtown Seattle. On a recent Sunday morning, the building was empty as she delivered her sermon online. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on June 4, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on June 7, 2020)

Historic downtown church confronts Seattle’s ‘original sin’
By Jean Sherrard

This past Jan. 25, during an evening lecture at Plymouth Congregational Church, historian David Buerge spoke of the city’s “original sin”: 54,000 acres taken from the Duwamish Tribe without recompense, leaving Chief Seattle’s people, who had so warmly welcomed early settlers, landless and homeless.

In response, the Rev. Dr. Kelle Brown, Plymouth’s lead pastor, had a forward-looking suggestion. “We have been squatting on First People’s land for nearly 170 years,” she said. “We’ve been blessed with the beautiful asset of this property. It’s time for the church to begin paying down our debt.”

Only a week past the 150th anniversary of the church’s first Sunday service, her audience voiced strong support for initiating discussions with the tribe. Those familiar with Plymouth and its long history of civic engagement were not surprised. From women’s suffrage and civil rights to immigration and homelessness, the church has wrestled with thorny issues of every era.

Before the church’s founding in 1870, Mayflower descendants John and Carolyn Sanderson determined that Seattle, with a population of nearly 1,000 mostly single men, lacked ecclesiastical choice. Methodists and Episcopalians had established solid toeholds here, but Congregationalism (with direct links to the Pilgrims) might add the tempting solidity of Plymouth Rock.

Their choice of pastor, charismatic John F. Damon – also a prominent Mason – was propitious. Church historian Mildred Andrews notes that Damon was “skilled at playing upon the emotions of his hearers” and in high demand for both weddings and funerals (at which there was “never a dry eye”).

Becoming known throughout the region as the “marrying parson,” Damon soon drew crowds of 100 for both morning and evening Sunday services, a staggering 20% of the town’s population. Pioneer Arthur Denny, lured from the Methodists, was inspired to donate a lot at Second Avenue and Spring Street for Plymouth’s first church.

Church membership soared. Besides the Denny family, notable congregants included James Colman (builder of the original Colman Dock), engineer Hiram M. Chittenden, developer James Moore (whose Moore Theater still stands at Fourth and Stewart) and Seattle’s first female mayor, Bertha Landes.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the church’s most ambitious offshoot. In 1980, after witnessing men sleeping rough on the church’s doorstep, the Rev. David Colwell braced his congregation: “One homeless person is one too many.” Today, Plymouth Housing provides supportive dwellings for more than 1,200 people in 14 buildings across the city.

For her part, Brown envisions a vital role for the church in years to come: “We must never lose sight of the most vulnerable, the most disenfranchised, and make sure that as a church, the lens we use is one of justice.” Plymouth’s proposal to enfranchise the Duwamish people will take a pioneering step toward atonement.

WEB EXTRAS

And here’s our accompanying narrated 360-degree video of this column, as promised.

Seattle Now & Then: Front Street Cable Railway after Great Seattle Fire, 1889

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: With inscrutable countenances typical in photos from the era, 15 men look southeast along Front Street (now First Avenue) while surrounding the #6 grip car and #2 trailer car of the Front Street Cable Railway in June 1889 following the Great Seattle Fire. Framing them is the gloomy façade of Merchants National Bank. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee and Orv Mallott)
NOW: In place of the 1889 cable-car posers and on the cusp of the 131st anniversary of the Great Seattle Fire, historical photo-collecting friends Dan Kerlee (left) of Magnolia and Orv Mallott of Federal Way stand at First and Cherry. The 10-story parking garage behind them was built in 1968. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on May 28, 2020
and in the PacificNW Magazine print edition on May 31, 2020)

Cable-car bells signaled ‘back to normal’ after Great Seattle Fire
By Clay Eals

Have you ever unearthed an old family photo you’ve never seen before? Instantly, it’s a treasure.

Seattle has its own family album, with familiar images of legendary events. To the many photos depicting the aftermath of the devastating June 6, 1889, Great Seattle Fire, this week we add a rare stunner.

Its focus is crisp, its vertical orientation unusual and its composition arresting. The torn corner even contributes charm. Best of all, in spotlighting the fledgling Front Street Cable Railway, it symbolizes the Seattle’s resilience and determination to rebuild after the fire destroyed the city’s 30-block core.

Backed by the peaked façade of burned-out Merchants National Bank, this view looks northwest along Front Street (today’s First Avenue) just north of its intersection with Cherry Street, along what had been Seattle’s showpiece commercial strip. Behind the photographer was what would become the resurrected Pioneer Square.

Contrary to a handwritten caption that denotes the fire date, the photo likely was taken days afterward, perhaps on Tuesday, June 18. That’s when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that the private cable line, which had opened three months prior to the fire, was resuming service after repairing its heat-warped underground guide-irons.

Jacob Furth, president, Front Street Cable Railway (Seattle Times)

The firm’s nattily dressed executives seem to have been among the posers, including what appears to be Jacob Furth, president, the only bareheaded gent.

Echoing our present-day desires during coronaviral times, local street-rail historian Mike Bergman says the photo’s message is clear: “Hey, folks, things are getting back to normal.”

More efficient electric streetcars were to prevail in the coming century, but in 1889 cable cars were the height of urban transit. Rides cost 5 cents, and cars traveled up to 10 mph. This line ran to and from the terminus depicted here, north along Front Street, jogging to Second Street (now avenue) and over then-Denny Hill (now the regraded Belltown) to a car barn at Depot Street (Denny Way).

For this line, cars traveled in pairs. An open “grip car” generated movement when a gripman pulled a handle to grasp a moving underground cable, while an unpowered, closed trailer car tagged along. Shown here are #6 of the firm’s six grip cars and #2 of its six trailers. The gripman stands, center, in dark uniform. Above his right arm is a cord he would pull to ring a bell alerting the conductor, in striped hat, and pedestrians of a change in speed.

Today, the only such manually operated cable railway in the world is, of course, in San Francisco, where 27 single cars propel no trailers. In times when we’re not social distancing, it is the only way to come close to experiencing the cable-car page of Seattle’s family album.

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!

We extend special thanks to Mike Bergman and Ron Edge for their assistance in the preparation of this column.

Below is an additional photo as well as 22 clippings from Washington Digital Newspapers and The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

A combined map and photo from 1889 show the vantage and location of our “Then” photo, indicated by a small, red “X.” (Courtesy Ron Edge)
Jan. 18, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 2, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
March 7, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 3
April 11, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
June 7, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer front page
June 10, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 2
June 11, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1
June 12, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1
June 18, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4
June 25, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 4
Nov. 10, 1889, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8
Oct. 24, 1896, Seattle Times, page 8
Feb. 24, 1897, Seattle Times, page 5
May 21, 1897, Seattle Times, page 5
Dec. 24, 1898, Seattle Times, page 8
Jan. 2, 1899, Seattle Times, page 8
April 5, 1899, Seattle Times, page 10
April 26, 1899, Seattle Times, page 5
Jan. 3, 1912, Seattle Times, page 10
Nov. 1, 1959, Seattle Times, page 143
Aug. 8, 1965, Seattle Times, page 110
Oct. 10, 1971, Seattle Times, page 36

Seattle Now & Then: West Seattle drawbridges, 1978

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

 

 

Mount St. Helens erupts: The 40th anniversary!

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

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

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

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

— Jean Sherrard and Clay Eals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Seattle Now & Then: Jefferson School, 1985

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

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

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

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