When classes first began Sept. 4, 1895, on the University of Washington’s new Interlaken campus, the students were greeted by the school bell, carried from the old campus to the new, but hanging in the Denny Hall belfry. Denny Hall is out-of-frame up the paved path that runs through the columns to the right. The bell soon became annoyingly familiar after sunrise when the bell ringer took, it seemed, cruel pleasures in waking not only students but also the citizens of Brooklyn. (Brooklyn was the University District’s first popular name.) If the weather were right, the bell could be heard in Renton.
The twenty-foot tall hand-carved columns were examples of the Greek Ionic order. Inevitably, perhaps, they also became iconic, and for some the University’s most representative symbol. Each weighing about one-thousand pounds, they were originally grouped along the façade of the school’s first structure on the original 1861 campus, near what is long since the northeast corner of Seneca
Street and Fourth Avenue. When the classic quartet was detached and moved to the new campus, student preservation activists continued to hope that the entire building would follow them to be reunited in time for the 1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. It was not to be. Instead, selected remains of the University’s first home were carved into commemorative canes. The four surviving columns were consigned to this position in the then still future Quad. They were named, “Loyalty”, “Industry”, “Faith”, and “Efficiency.” Neither Jean nor I know which is which.
In 1915 the school’s Board of Regents embraced architect Carl F. Gould’s “Revised General Plan of the University of Washington,” which included the Quad and prescribed that the architectural style to be used in its several buildings should be Collegiate Gothic. Commerce Hall, the brick and tile example on the right of the featured photo at the top, was completed in 1917. Work on Philosophy Hall, on the left, was delayed by the material needs of the First World War, and completed late in the fall of 1920. By 1972 the names of both halls were changed to Savery, in honor of William Savery, the head of the University’s Department of Philosophy for more than forty years.
With the completion of Commerce and Philosophy Halls, the quartet of columns was moved in 1921 to the Sylvan Theatre, which had been prepared for them. The Seattle Times noted that “It was the first time that the traditional pillars have been tampered with without some sort of ceremony.” Since then the “ancient pillars” have witnessed a good share of pomp and circumstance during school’s graduation exercises.
As per your request, Paul, I’ll toss in a few just for fun: They make us better Jean.
Four weeks ago, Jean Sherrard stood at what is known as the front door to the Pike Place Market, the intersection of First Avenue and Pike Street. Hoisting a pole that extended as tall as the base of the market’s clock, he pointed his heavy Nikon eastward, up the center of Pike Street. From a similar perch about 88 years earlier, a Webster and Stevens Studio photographer also looked east on Pike and recorded this week’s “then.” We are dating this photo as circa 1931, based not on the automotive license plates, which are hard to read, but rather the five-story construction under way for the J.C. Penney department store at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street, here right-of-center and still without windows.
Later branded as JCPenney but known by one and all as Penney’s, the store opened Thursday, Aug. 13, 1931. In contrast to the uncertainties and outright failures of the Great Depression, Penney’s placed an advertisement in this daily five days later claiming that a “staggering” and “conservative” estimate of 125,000 had visited since the store’s opening. Some were “curious,” others “skeptical,” but many left with “arms loaded, satisfied that regardless of business conditions, people will buy when prices are right.”
Ten years later, Seattle traded financial troubles for the anxieties and orders of World War II. By then, the Hahn family had been associated with the intersection of First and Pike for more than 60 years. Robert Ernest Hahn, a German immigrant from Saxony, arrived in Seattle in the late 1860s and soon purchased the southeast corner when First Avenue (then named Front Street) and Pike Street were mere paths. Their neighbors included Seattle pioneers Arthur and Mary Denny and the lesser-known C. B. Shattuck.
Shattuck managed the Seattle Coal and Transportation Company that from 1871 to 1878 moved coal from their mine at Newcastle by a route that required both barges on the lakes and trains including one that crossed back-and-forth through this intersection from the company’s bunkers and wharf at the foot of Pike Street to their wharf at the south end of Lake Union. We imagine that Hahn chose not to get soiled by working for his neighbor. Instead, he thrived as a painter and interior decorator, continuing to buy property and, with his wife, Amelia, raise a family of five children including Ernie who gained some local celebrity as a sportsman. A Salmon Derby trophy was named for him.
By the time of Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889, the Hahn corner was a popular summer retreat from the heat with a beer garden, which real-estate maps indicate was approached from Pike Street. In 1909, the Hahns completed what survives as First and Pike’s southeast corner post, the three-story brick Hahn Building, also long known as the Elliott Hotel and seen above in our “now” as the Green Tortoise Hostel. The recent proposal that it be razed for a high-rise is rousing the market’s many friends to protect this “humble hundred-year old guardian structure” from the wages of plastic and glass.
Anything to add, lads? Another mix from the neighborhood considered, which also reveals our love for it.
This week I wish to lead with Jean Sherrard’s “now.” It is a noon-hour streetscape graced by a morning downpour. The clean puddle on Yesler Way reflects the dappled clouds that fringe the 40-plus story Smith Tower, which is mirrored in this small flood nearly as brilliantly as the landmark’s terra-cotta tiles shine in the noon-hour sky. Sunlight escaping across Yesler Way from the alley between First Avenue and Occidental Street draws a warm path through the scene’s center.
The featured “then” at the top we have picked to ponder with Jean’s now is not “on spot.” Rather, it was recorded a half-block west on Yesler Way. I chose this “then” for a list of reasons, including repeat photography. At the photograph’s center stand two of the landmarks that Seattle rapidly raised in 1883-84, early boom years for the growing town that in 1881 first took the prize for numbered citizens in Washington Territory. This developing strip of Victorian landmarks on Mill Street (Yesler Way) continues south from this intersection on Commercial Street (First Ave. S.) and especially north on Front Street (First Ave.) (If you wish to explore the blog dorpatsherrardlomont you will find many opportunities to keyword-explore all with the help of past now-and-then features and books compiled from them.)
This look into Pioneer Square, or Pioneer Place as it was first named, shows the photographer W.F. Boyd’s stamp on its flip side. Boyd arrived in Seattle not long before he recorded this view. Beside his centered stamp there are additional messages written by other hands on the back, including “Photo taken day before fire,” meaning the Great Fire of June 6 1889. But it cannot be. Instead we have chosen to date this circa 1887, largely on a lead from Ron Edge, who pointed out the work-in-progress extending the Occidental Hotel (with the flagpole and mansard roof) to fill the entire flatiron block bordered by Mill Street, James Street and Second Avenue.
Another grand construction stands center-left: the Yesler-Leary Building, with its showplace tower topped by a weather vane, at the northwest corner of Front and Mill Streets. One of our “other reasons” for picking this “then” on Mill Street is the brick building in the shadows on the scene’s far right. We ask readers smarter than we to name this three-story pre-fire landmark. [Soon after we made this request, Ron Edge, a frequent contributor to this blog, came forward – or up – with the answer. Continue on for both his correct identification and his evidence.]
While I have never seen any face-on photograph of this south side of Mill Street, west of First Ave., it does appear in a Seattle1884 birdseye map and in that year’s Sanborn map as well. But neither of these early sources give it a name or address. Perhaps it is the Villard House*, listed in the 1884 city directory at 15 Mill Street and “near the Steamboat Wharf,” aka Yesler’s Wharf. C.S. Plough, the proprietor, dauntlessly advertised it with a mondo boast, “The Villard is the best and cheapest hotel in the city.”
RON EDGE’S 11TH HOUR DISCOVERY: NOPE – NOT THE VILLARD HOUSE, BUT RATHER THE SCHWABACHER BUILDING.
JEAN ASKS – ANYTHING TO ADD LADS.
Anything to add, lads? Beyond what is revealed just above, Ron Edge’s 11th hour identification of the three-story brick building on the far of the week’s feature, we have more of our weekly same, which is more past feature’s from the neighborhood.
Once cameras could be used comfortably out-of-doors, one of the sustaining services promoted by commercial photographers was portraits for families posing on the porch or front yard and businesses that grouped owners with their employees in front of the shop or factory that supported them. This week’s feature has both, with a variation.
The man in the dark suit nearest the camera is probably Syvert Stray, proprietor of the Seattle Dairy. He is standing beside, we assume, his wife Lillian, while holding onto the high wagon chair where his daughter poses for the professional photographer. Down the line are the horses and drivers for Stray’s five milk wagons. The twist in this group portrait is that the subjects here are not posing beside the
company’s office and/or livery on Eighth Avenue. Rather they are around the corner from it on Union Street. The reason is obvious. They are sharing the splendor of a new and magnificent neighbor. This is the showy south façade of Dreamland, a hall that filled the northeast corner of Seventh Avenue and Union Street.
This ornate landmark could have held a hundred horses but never did. Rather, it was made for entertainments and engagements. From its arching roof to the hardwood floor this big room was made for dancing, skating, conventions, banquets and shows of many sorts. It was often decorated with streamers hanging from the ceiling. Dreamland was also the political platform of choice for progressives, labor unions, and political campaigning. The dances thrown here were big ones. And the sweating populist spectator sports of boxing and wrestling could fill the place.
From its beginning, Dreamland was promoted primarily as a roller skating rink. The opening was “by invitation” on October 14, 1906, for the Monday Night Skating Club. The following night it was promoted in The Times as “the ideal rink for discriminating skaters… with Prof. Chas L. Franks and his daughter Lillian “performing as Champion Fancy Skaters.” Stray, Dreamland’s dairyman neighbor, was also into roller skating, sponsoring a competitive team in the Seattle Roller Hockey League.
In 1915, after Stray bought a Rothweiler truck, an illustrated advertisement of the purchase appeared in The Times. Like the milk wagons Stray was replacing, his new truck was partially covered with a sign naming his dairy. Stray’s spirit for internal combustion developed into his second entrepreneurial passion, as director of McKale’s Inc., a small chain of stylish service stations. The number one McKale’s was on the northwest corner of Union Street and Eighth Avenue, two doors from Stray’s Seattle Dairy.
Born in Christiansun, Norway, in 1871, the seventeen-year-old Syvert reached the U.S. in 1888 and Seattle in 1902. Prior to his death in 1934 Stray was a life member in The Fraternal Order of Eagles, whose elegant aerie replaced Dreamland at Seventh Avenue and Union Street in 1925. Since 1997, it is a corner where the play has continued with ACT Theatre.
Anything to add, dreamers? Yup Jean, Ron Edge is now laying upon us a few recent and relevant features and I’ll follow them with some older ones
The arch standing here at the southeast corner of Union Street and Third Avenue was short-lived, like every other ceremonial ornament contrived for the Seattle Street Fair and Carnival, assembled and produced by the Seattle Elks Lodge for thirteen sunny days in August 1902. This arch, the only rustic one, was the odd one of four built for the fair. It was a vernacular showpiece with a somewhat exotic shape, covered overall with cedar shakes, making it regional, while wrapping it with electric lights made it modern.
The other three arches, by contrast, were all-white, reminders of the also temporary Beaux Arts architecture of Chicago’s 1893 Columbia Exposition. The two largest spanned First and Second Avenues widely enough to permit electric trolleys to pass through. With their ornamental splendor, the three classical arches were also unwitting
premonitions of Seattle’s own World’s Fair, its 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. One of the three crossed Union Street about a half-block behind – west – of the unnamed photographer. With two booths asking for the ten-cent admission, it served the fair as the main ticket gate to the fenced celebration.
The dime paid for everything that was spread about on the acres selected from the former University of Washington campus. The off-campus Third Avenue block between Union and University Streets was also lined with booths, and Union Street as well, from
the ticket booth east into the old campus that was covered with tents such as the one seen on the far right of this week’s ‘then’ photograph. And nearly everything was enveloped in strings of electric lights. The Elks promised that the grounds at night would be “almost as light as day.” Some of the exotic thrills inside the fenced tents were an “Arabian trainer in a den of lions,” a “cage of leopards,” “Jabour’s Oriental Carnival and Menageries Company,” and “a troupe of 160 Orientals, Turks, Assyrians, Egyptians, East Indians, Japanese,” in addition to “dozens of unusual things.” The Elks fair was also distinguished and promoted by daily parades through the city streets. One of the attractions was a “ladies band with eighteen pieces.”
Although exceptionally civic-minded, the Plymouth Congregational Church, on the far right at University Street, was not inside the fenced fair grounds. The Armory, the structure with the long roof half-hidden behind the arch, was. Among its many well-promoted events was a contest in the “pretty booth” with prizes for the prettiest girl and the handsomest boy and also “the largest and fattest baby 16 months old.” The judge was a local doctor who prudently fled the Armory following the contests.
Anything to add, lodge members? Yes Jean, and we remain faithful to your designs. Before putting forward Ron’s links we will add three more illustrations of the southeast corner of Third Ave. and Union Street: from top-to-bottom, the corner cleared, building the Post Office, the modern class-curtain post office proposed by its architects. Their rendering looks considerably better than the thing itself, however, we recall the Latin aphorism on taste (that we may have misspelled). “De gustibus non desputandum est. ” or “taste is not debatable” except that is surely is debated.
Jean and I first used this Pioneer Square classic years ago on the back cover of our now long out-of-print book, Washington State Then and Now (2007). We described the crowded scene as a celebration connected with Seattle’s summer-long 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYP). It seemed like a reasonable claim at the time, but it was wrong. We missed both the subject’s evidence and lack of it. There are no AYP signs or flags anywhere to be found. But there is lots of patriotic bunting, especially American flags.
The best clue for identifying the occasion is spelled out in the line of pennants hanging near the top, showing the last five letters for “WELCOME.” The location is Pioneer Square, when it was still more popularly called Pioneer Place, during the four-day visit of Pres. Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet. Leaving the east coast in December 1907, it required fourteen months to circumnavigate the world with its military parade. Most likely the scene was photographed on May 26, 1908, following the completion of the Grand Parade for the welcomed visitors, It started that morning, but in the photo the pedestrian celebrants cast afternoon shadows.
The popularity of what Seattle called its “Fleet Week” was both overflowing and depleting. Crowd counters estimated that 400,000 watched the parade. Downtown businesses were more than willing to decorate their facades with flags and patriotic festoons; many of the decorations were stunning. Five days before the parade The Seattle Times announced “Seattle Has A Bunting Famine. Merchants were unable to supply another yard of acceptable decorating material to patriotic customers (and) Tacoma and Portland were unable to help.”
Most of the fleet’s admirers came from Puget Sound, and extra Mosquito Fleet steamers and passenger trains were enlisted to bring the eager hordes to witness “the largest sea-fighting machines in the world.” The trains were often stuffed beyond standing room, and many seekers from distant communities were left standing on depot platforms. Visitors who managed to reach Seattle often had to camp in the parks. The temporary tent, showing left-of-center in the photograph, tries to help. Its sign reads: “Free Information Bureau, Strangers Directed to Furnished Rooms.”
On Monday, May 25, The Times headlined “Thousands Visit Ships … With every detail outlined by the bright sunshine which followed the dreary rain of yesterday, the eleven huge, white fighting machines now at anchor in the harbor lay in stately majesty in a wide crescent that stretched from Smith’s Cove to the south end of the harbor.” Earlier, when the fleet headed north from their California visits, they inspired thousands of Oregon citizens to sortie to their coast expecting to see the dozen dreadnaughts steam by. However as brilliant as the big ships could be reflecting the fleet’s “peacetime color, white,” the Oregonians saw nothing of the distant White Fleet, except its smoke darkening the horizon.
We’ve attached a direct closing here for the Fleet Week feature above with another below, a scene on Second Avenue , or beside it showing some of the crowd that paid for their bleachers seats here at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and Virginia Street. (The prospect looks to the northwest.) This added feature includes an array of Fleet Week images including photos of the fleet itself both on the way and in the bay.
Just for fun, on this lovely near-Spring day, let’s jump across town for a few cherry blossoms, seen from on high with my 21-foot pole. ‘Tis the season for Asian wedding photos – there were five or six sessions going on with tuxedoed grooms and blushing brides through the cherry trees! Enjoy! (A version of one of these shots will appear in a future column):
Anything to add, lads? Fall to the Bottom for Seasonal Salubrious advice Jean.
HOSPITAL ZONE – QUIET PLEASE
EXTRA: SSS A SPRING SKIN WARNING for ERUPTIONS OF EVERY CONCEIVABLE KIND
Heading south on The Ave (University Way N.E.), Seattle Municipal Railway car no. 511 was recorded mid-block between N.E. 43rd and N.E. 45th, very possibly by a rail fan, perhaps James Turner or Lawton Gowey. Both started waiting for and/or chasing trains and trolleys with cameras before World War II. They knew and admired each other and shared their well-wrought snapshots. (Much later Lawton and I did the same.)
Running on route 15, car no. 511 is heading for Capitol Hill’s commercial arterial, Broadway, as seen printed on the reader board above the center window. The “double-ender” was one of twenty-five trolleys (500 – 524) manufactured in 1906 in St. Louis for use on the already roaring streets of this then (and now) booming city. All were one inch longer than forty feet, and all were scrapped in either 1940 or 1941.
The Varsity Theatre opened across the street from the University Book Store in 1940. Perhaps the theatre is hidden behind the cars on the left, or, perhaps, is not there. We prefer to think this photograph was recorded a year earlier, sometime in 1939. Note the American flags flapping above the southbound rails. They could be in celebration for that year’s Independence Day, but not for the 1940 Fourth of July, by which time the Broadway trolley line had been abandoned. The tracks were soon pulled, and The Ave’s pavement then resembled the wartime rubble often printed in the city’s then three dailies: The Times, The P-I and The Star.
On the right of the featured photo at the top, the popular Lun Ting Café opened sometime in 1938. It did not make it into that year’s Polk City Directory. The chop suey and chow mein provider appears here adorned with roof tiles. Roy Nielsen, the author of UniverCity, the Story of the University District, fondly reflects that Ray Chinn, the café’s manager and, like Nielsen, a long-time member of the neighborhood Rotary Club, “was very popular in the District.” In 1970 when the University Book Store expanded into his café, the Rotarians held a mock wake in the café on its closing night. They called it a “Chinese Smorgasbord Inside Picnic”. Chinn reopened nearby on 12th Avenue as a Chinese drive-in.
In 1925 the Associated Students’ University Book Store (UBS) moved to The Ave from its campus home in the basement of Meany Hall. The 1970 expansion was one of its many remodels. In the featured photo, ca. 1939, the Book Store is the gorilla on The Ave’s 4300 hundred block, which was then Seattle’s busiest book block. Nestled near it were also the Washington Book Store, Dearle’s Book Store, and the Bookery and Lending Library. The UBS celebrated its centennial in 2000. A year earlier, I had a fine time in the store’s employ writing and illustrating its centennial history.
Anything to add, boys? Sure Jean – lots more features. As friend Gavin MacDougall works his and his scanner’s way through the opera of features we will have a growing horde of stories to share.
With the number 677 inked, lower-right, on the original glass negative, this is an early exposure from the Webster and Stevens Studio. Loomis Miller was the last owner of this magnum opus (about 40,000 mostly glass negatives) which PEMCO purchased for the Museum of History and Industry in 1983. The low number of this subject in MOHAI’S “PEMCO Collection” dates it very early in the twentieth century. (I’m choosing a circa 1903 date until corrected.)
The photographer – perhaps one of the partners, either Ira Webster or Nelson Stevens – focuses east on Pike Street through its intersection with Third Avenue. While I have just speculated with some confidence on the date, I have no idea what the purpose of the triangular contraption (a kind of designed street clutter on the left) is for. (You will need to enlarge the scan to see this detail. ) With the aid of magnification one discovers that the wood frame holds two gears that may be connected to the large coil of rope partially hidden behind the second man from the left. He is looking in the direction of the “SIGNS” sign attached to the corner of the ornate Heussy Building. Meanwhile, directly below him, another man, smoking his pipe, has improvised the coil as a chair, a modern-looking one.
Looking east on Pike (not in the photo directly above, which looks south on Third Ave, but in the featured photo at the top) we can make out, in the half-haze, the Capitol Hill horizon about a mile away. The tracks in the foreground were a feeder to three Capitol Hill trolley lines: one that did not reach the summit, another that did on 15th Avenue and a third that went over it. In the early 1900s tracks were not new on Pike Street. In 1872, there was the narrow-gauge railroad that ran between the Pike
Street coal wharf and the south end of Lake Union. There coal from the east side of Lake Washington reached its last leg on prosperous trips to the fleet of coal-schooners that kept California stoked with our own Newcastle nuggets. The coal was transferred from barges on Lake Union to the coal hoppers waiting at the railroad’s lake terminus, about a block east of where Westlake now crosses Mercer Street. In 1884 the horse cars from the Pioneer Square
neighborhood on Second Avenue first turned on to Pike on their zig-zag route to Lake Union. In 1889 the four-legged horsepower was forsaken for electric trollies, which were scrapped in the early 1940s when replaced with gas and rubber.
Both the Heussy Block on the left and the Hotel Abbott on the right of the featured photograph were prestigious three-story brick additions to Pike Street in the early 1890s. The timing of their construction was one part fortuitous and the rest self-evident. The booming of Seattle in the 1880s continued into the teens, and the city’s Great Fire of 1889, which was blocks away in the oldest neighborhoods and on the central waterfront, helped quicken the development of this the North End.
We find no motor vehicles on Pike in the featured photo because they were still rare. On December 23, 1904;, the city’s Public Works Department counted the vehicular visits through Pike Street’s intersection with Second Avenue. Nearly lost in the total count of 3,959, a mere fourteen were not pulled by horses.
Here’s a serendipitous, if unrelated, treat of local restoration. As I was strolling down 1st Avenue and Washington Street this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of an old friend, the harbor pergola back in its rightful spot.
Anything to add, fellahs? It is a swell surprise, your pergola. I did not know that it was saved and probably restored for its next century – even. I wrote more about this in The Illustrated History of the Seattle Waterfront – I think we named it. You will find that – or can find it – among the list of books we have published and then also scanned for this blog.
THIRD AVE ON THE OTHER – NORTH – SIDE OF THE DENNY AKA WASHINGTON HOTEL – Looking south across Blanchard Street.
ANOTHER and probablyDIFFERENT HEUSSY and ABBOTT looking across this feature column at each other. One of the primary delights got with doing these Sunday features is the odd matter picked up with research, especially reading old newspapers. Here are TWO EXAMPLES both pulled or picked from The Seattle Times archive. The first is dated Feb 19, 1897 and reveals with the reflections of Dr. Lyman Abbott how far forward Darwin and his “truth of evolution” have ‘evolved’ through the then still lingering 19th Century. The second celebrates the decision of Dr. C.W. Heussy, a young medical doctor, to locate his practice in Seattle.
In 2001, Paul Dorpat, Catherine Wadley and I worked for many months creating a 1-hour documentary history of Bumbershoot. We called it BumberChronicles. Commissioned by One Reel, it aired on KCTS-9 and for several years on The Seattle Channel. Click through to remember (and mourn) the extraordinary arts festival that once was….
When portraits of classes or entire student bodies became increasingly commonplace in the 1880s, a variation arose that required more work in the darkroom. Some professionals offered a montage presentation in which the group portrait included, most often in a corner of the photograph or at other times stretched across the sky, a portrait of the school as well. (An example of such a montage with a pan is attached at the bottom of the blog.) Our corner example in the week’s featured photo was recorded by one of the best photographers to have ever worked in Seattle, Anders Beer Wilse.
The nineteen-year-old Norwegian emigrated to the U.S. in 1884, first working with the United States Geological Survey, much of it in the mountains of the Northwest. In 1897, the first year of the Yukon Gold Rush, Wilse did not ship north but instead opened his studio in Seattle. He was soon garnering prestigious jobs, such as photographing the construction of Seattle’s community water system that delivered fresh water to the city from the Cedar River.
The 1908 BAIST MAP detail above shows St. Francis Hall in purple-red, upper-right, with its last name “Woodman Hall.” Across Spring Street from Providence Hospital it was also one block east of the then new Seattle Public Library. In the 1912 BAIST MAP detail below the hall is gone, a victim of upheaval connected with street regrades on Spring Street and 6th Avenue.
For this week’s feature, Wilse’s Seattle contacts took him to Rev. F.X. Prefontaine’s St. Francis Hall. For the group shot, the photographer stood on the unpaved Spring Street a half-block west of Sixth Avenue. That the students are generally divided by gender may be by Wilse’s or the teacher’s direction, or by the students’ own proclivity for herding. The portrait is inscribed “class St. Francis School Seattle, Jan. 11, 1900.” The adult on the porch may be Elsie, which the 1901 Polk City Directory names the school’s teacher.
Francis Prefontaine was Seattle’s first Roman Catholic priest. With aid of both parishioners and protestants, in 1870 he built Our Lady of Good Help, the city’s first Catholic Church. (In 2017 we featured Our Lady twice in PacificNW, on March 12 and 19.) The gregarious priest built St. Francis Hall in 1890-91 and named it for the Italian saint known for his loving sermons to ‘all creatures great and small.’ That the original Seattle priest’s first name was also Francis may be considered a cheerful coincidence.
As a secular priest, Prefontaine was not required to make a vow of poverty. His uses of St. Francis Hall were diverse, and for a time in the late 1890s he lived there with his niece Maria Rose Pauze, who both edified and entertained her uncle with her piano playing. She described him as “one to acquire property, clean it up and make a go of it.” Other groups who rented the Hall from the priest were the Knights of Columbus, Professor Ourat (from Florence) with his dancing academy, dancing parties sponsored by the Adante Non Troppo Club, and late in the Hall’s life a fraternity, Woodmen of the World, who arranged to attach their name to the brick landmark. One of the Hall’s last engagements is reviewed in The Times for March 10, 1908: “Knights of Columbus Make Merry at Woodmen of the World Hall . . . The crowd that attended taxed the capacity of the place.” St. Francis Hall did not survive the nearly twenty-foot cuts that came with the 1909 Spring Street Regrade.