The fire started around 9:00 on the Saturday evening of July 26, 1879, in room No. 12 on the second floor of the American House. Only the day before the hotel advertised itself in the Daily Intelligencer as “The best and cheapest House in town for a poor man.” The hotel sat by the waterfront end of Mill Street (Yesler Way), near the Seattle Lumber Mill, which was reduced to rubble smoldering above a few salvageable saws.
On Sunday the newspaper opened its first report on the fire with a sensational exaggeration. “The long expected conflagration that was to destroy this wooden town has come and done its terrible work. In an hour a score of business houses were destroyed, half as many men ruined and a hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of property swept out of existence.” In addition to the cheap hotel where it started, the fire consumed “five saloons, a seamen’s bethel, a machine shop, a marble shop, two sash and door factories, a chair factory, a grist mill, a turning shop” and various other smaller structures. All were soon rebuilt, but to stricter fire codes that were enacted after the fire. Ten years later Seattle’s business district was nearly wiped out with its “Great Fire” of June 6, 1889, which razed more than thirty city blocks, including Yesler’s wharf and most of the waterfront.
This Peterson & Bro Studio photograph looks west from near Post Avenue through the ruins of the Seattle Lumber Mill. Volunteers, including sailors from ships in Elliott Bay, saved the several warehouses that were standing at the end of Yesler’s wharf with a great and heroic dousing of the dock. Volunteers armed with buckets and wet blankets also protected the Daily Intelligencer’s frame quarters at the foot of Cherry Street, which was also the home of the Peterson & Bro Studio.
The city’s nearly new Gould Steam Fire Engine performed well until its suction lining came loose. The engine had been delivered earlier that year with great fanfare. An enthused and expectant citizenry followed it and the six horses pulling it on parade from its waterfront landing – almost certainly on this dock – to Yesler’s Pavilion for a community dance and a “bounteous repast . . . prepared by the ladies of the town.”
The Daily Intelligencer concluded its Sunday report with a description of the frantic evacuation taken by citizens with their goods from quarters that were never reached by the fire. “Every place of business in the Yesler block, on Mill and Front Streets, [was] stripped of its contents except those in the Intelligencer building . . . Stores were wholly or partially emptied, and the streets were lined with furniture, boxes of groceries, clothing, drugs, jewelry, etc. . . Trusty men and horses and wagons were in demand at high prices. Reckless and ridiculous things without number, as is always the case on such occasions, were done on every hand.”
Anything to add, lads? Surely Jean, starting with nineteen Edge links and then followed by whatever we get up after lunch (your time dear reader) on Sunday (this day). It is 3am, and time for me to prepare to walk the stairs to my horseshoe-shaped pillow in time to hear the birds outside my window welcome the light while I cover my eyes with a black sock for the duration.
This row of strapping residences on Broadway stands near the summit of the long ridge that locals first referred to as “the first hill.” By the time these roosts were constructed in the early twentieth century, the “the” was increasingly dropped, but not the “first.” Broadway, along with Denny Way and Yesler Way, was so named to mark it as a border for the Central Business District. And it was platted broad too, eighty feet wide rather than the common sixty feet of other streets and avenues on the hill.
The size of the five big residences on show in this 1937 tax photo is a tribute to the late nineteenth century ambition of First Hill to distinguish itself as Seattle’s exclusive neighborhood of mansions. Usually raised above big double lots, these are exceptions, as each occupies a single lot. With the turn of the century, any exclusivity in this neighborhood was soon overwhelmed by Seattle’s muscular growth, and its needs for workers’ housing “within walking distance” or quick trolley rides to their employers beckoning. In addition to apartments, institutions such as schools, hospitals, and churches crowded First Hill in the early 1900s, so that its luxuriance was more in human stories than family wealth. The pan shown just above reveals the early diversity of housing on First Hill. It shows a mix of mansions, row-houses and apartments, but not institutions as yet.
On the featured photo of the Marion Street end of the block we have kept the tax record’s address, 832 Broadway, that has been scribbled by the assessor’s staff on the grass. It is a “family dwelling” with eight rooms built by Jennie and Frederick Hope in 1900. After her husband’s early demise, she continued to live in the home until her death in 1938. The surely zestful Jennie Hope liked to host all-French parties with no English speaking allowed. She also hosted a salon in her living room for Seattle’s Progressive Thought Club. The Times reported that for the gathering on January 23, 1910, Rev. J.D.O. Powers, a Unitarian minister, addressed the club on “The Purpose of Life.” On March 12, 1912, the Club’s question was equally big: “Why Are We On Earth?” (Regrettably, in neither instance did this newspaper publish any of the Club’s answers.) Jennie Hope also liked to take extensive trips, long enough to offer a few of her rooms for subletting during her absence.
Although it cannot easily be deciphered in the featured photo at the top, even in the original, there is just left of the Maple tree a neon sign attached to the roof of the porch at 824 Broadway, two doors south of the Hope home. The sign reads F. V. Rasmusson Funeral Home. The mortuary was easily the most reported and promoted of addresses on this east side of the 800 block. In 1942 John Kalin, its new owner-mortician, spread his hegemony by first purchasing the
larger residence north of his and then the Hope home a few years after Jennie’s death. Kalin advertised his funeral home as Catholic, and his final paid listing in the Times was a “last rosary” for Marcelino Ubaldo Lyco, a WWII veteran. The service was held in the John Kalin Chapel on November 22, 1965. A requiem mass was to follow the next day at St. Mary’s and finally a burial at Washelli Cemetery.
THE OTHER TAXED HOLDINGS ON THIS BROADWAY BLOCK – ONE ONE CHURCH
THE LAST TENANT AT 808 BROADWAY – and on it.
Anything to add, lads? A few mostly neighborhood features, which promises that some of these will repeat others of these this week and earlier and so be familiar to some readers of this blog. But let us be considerate of those for whom this is somewhat new, also remembering that for our seasoned selves “repetition is the mother of all learning.”
Below: THE 800 BLOCK ON BROADWAY FOOTPRINTS in both the 1908 & 1912 BAIST REAL ESTATE MAPS. [click to enlarge]
In spite of its soft focus, I delight in this week’s historical subject. It is rare: a nearly pioneer look into the heart of the Alki Point neighborhood early in its development. Photos of the Point’s early beach life are nearly commonplace, but not off the waterfront shots like this one of its interior along what was then still called Hanson Avenue.
The featured print at the top and the few more above this writing were copied from a cord-bound album of by now mostly scruffy photos originally gathered to promote and revive Rose Lodge in 1913. That was a dozen often struggling years after Benjamin and Julia Baker opened the lodge and its pleasure grounds on the Puget
Sound waterfront south of the Point. Among the dozen or so photographs included in the album, the featured one declines to promote the Lodge’s advantages or pose its recreating tenants and fifty neatly-framed tents. (The next print below includes some of those tents and playful guests.) Rather, the photographer turns her or his left shoulder away from the resort to look north-northeast on what was then, six years after West Seattle’s incorporation into Seattle and its conformity of street names, 63rd Ave. SW. Of course, some of the locals continued long after to call it by its original name, Hanson Avenue.
Norwegian immigrants Anna and Hans Hanson, with their brother-in-law Knud Olson, and their families, purchased Alki Point from Seattle Pioneer Doc Maynard in 1869. The extended family farm, here in the featured photo at the top off camera to the left, kept producing into the 1930s, while rentals on the Point property helped its members through the Great Depression. This Hanson-Olson “Alki-Aristocracy” included the Clam Digger, future restaurateur Ivar Haglund, whose mother Daisy was the Hanson’s youngest child, the only one born (in 1870) on the Point.
Daisy’s uncle Knud Olson had his own namesake street that intersected Hanson Avenue where now Admiral Way does the same with 63rd SW. That intersection is a few lots north of the large white-box-of-a-home that stands above the center of this streetscape. It was for many years the family home of Asa and Irene Schutt. Irene
was an activist in the Alki Women’s Improvement Club and club meetings were often held in her home at 3226 63rd SW. The home, now painted green, survives. Across the street from the Schutt’s home were still undeveloped acres that a pair of Los Angeles showmen proposed in 1927 to develop into a twelve-acre amusement park. Its neighbors were mostly not amused and the necessary rezone failed.
This featured photo and the others from the album were first shared with me in 1997 by Walter Baker Williams at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s then recently opened Log House Museum. We met in the courtyard paved with bricks named for and contributed by donors, Williams included. In the 1960s, the Harvard educated attorney was a member of the state senate. He was what was then called a “moderate Republican.” For a middle name, his parents handed him Baker, the name of his grandparents. Again, it was the Bakers that had opened Rose Lodge, and quite possibly grandpa Benjamin Baker who took this week’s featured historical photograph.
Electrical Storms? above and financial struggles below.
THE WILLIAM and/or KENNETH MORRIS Rose Lodge Month of May Example for 1928 & 1929
Anything to add, les mecs? Yes Jean, yes yes. Ron begins this week with some Alki Beach wear and then with a few more West Seattle features. Following those we will tie some clippings to the tail of this week’s blog.
This portrait of Georgetown’s sharp but short-lived Oregon-Washington Railroad Station is the third “then” we have pulled from an album of snapshots shot and/or gathered by Henry J. Fickheisen. Henry was the son of Carl W. Fickeisen, an early Georgetown baker who started sweetening the Duwamish Valley with his cream cakes in the 1890s. Our first Ficheisen choice was a portrait of the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Brigade pausing and posing in uniform during a parade on Seattle’s Pike Street (Jan. 20, 2013. We will place it below as the second “Edgle Link” after Jean’s request for “Web Extras). Next we featured a sensational winter shot of Rainier Beer’s Venus fountain (Feb. 16, 2014). It was shown not flowing but frozen. (Venus will also appear below with the Web Extras: the fourth one. ) The depot photograph’s postcard qualities may make one wonder if Henry Fickeisen purchased it from a professional. But his album has many examples of personal snapshots of both family subjects and landmarks sensitively composed. Certainly we will feature other of Fickeisen’s early-20th-Century photos in future now-then features.
On July 28, 1910, the Seattle Times noted some early work-in-progress at this station. “NEW DEPOT BUILDING foundation work has begun for the $5,000 passenger station of the Oregon and Washington Railroad at Georgetown. The new depot will be located north of Graham Street and west of Swift Street . . . The new station should be completed within a short time.”
Finding little else on the tidy depot, aside from the Times notice, I turned to Kurt Armbruster, Seattle’s encyclopedic rails historian, who answered with the photo below, which also includes the new depot.
In this search, Kurt also reached rail archivist Dan Cozine, whom Kurt describes as “one of our region’s leading authorities on railroad facilities and owner of possibly the largest local collection of engineering drawings, official correspondence, and other historic railroad ephemera.” We learn from Dan that the Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co., regional subsidiary of the Union Pacific, built the depot in 1910. The building’s large waiting room, baggage room, and 300-foot platform indicated that it was intended as a suburban passenger station to serve the growing south Seattle area.
These grand intentions, however, were not to be. Most Georgetown-bound passengers arrived by street trolley and not on a main line train. After the 1911 opening of the Union Pacific’s grand station at 5th Avenue and Jackson Street, few trains stopped at Georgetown. The frequent exceptions were those loading cases by the hundreds of Rainier Beer at the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company’s big brewery about two hundred feet to the north of the depot and across the tracks.
Another reason, perhaps, that the depot received little attention was that in 1910 Georgetown was preoccupied with being encircled by Seattle. On March 20, the Times predicted “Georgetown Will Come In.” The newspaper’s list of advantages that would come with annexation into Seattle included Cedar River water, “high school privileges,” a much better police force “for the same price,” a move from “practically no street improvements” to “all she needs,” respected contracts and protected rights, her own councilmen (for the Fifteenth Ward), and something more than “a meager fire department” like the one that the Fickheisen’s volunteered for. The Times made no mention of trains or trolleys. On the 29th of March, the citizens of Georgetown decided on annexation and enhanced encirclement. They joined Seattle.
Anything to add, laddybucks? The seventeen “Edge Links” stacked below are all of the south-end subject – from “below the line” or south of Yesler Way. The second one is a kind of exception. Another Fickeisen photo – like the day’s feature – it follows the Georgetown Volunteer Fire Department to the corner of Pike Street and Seventh Avenue, most likely for a parade.
A moderately large heading, “Going Up or Coming Down, It’s Still Progress,” is set between two press photos on page three in the Seattle Times for Monday, Feb. 25, 1974. The illustration above the heading is an aerial of the Kingdome under construction, while below is a dramatic exposure of the Normandie Apartments being demolished by a wrecking ball. The caption noted that the “five-story 112-unit condemned building” was 65-years-old but
would be “razed by the end of the week.” The Times reporter could not have known, of course, that “progress” for King County’s sports palace would amount to less than one-half that of the worn brick apartment building at the northwest corner of University Street and Ninth Avenue. As many PacificNW readers will remember, the Kingdome was reduced to rubble and dust in an instant with its implosion of March 26, 2000.
The Normandie, designed by prolific local architect James A Schack, opened its unfurnished units to tenants in the spring of 1910. The agents, West and Wheeler, advertised this newest addition to First Hill’s growing abundance of apartment houses as “absolutely fireproof [with] all outside rooms, free telephone, elevator service, disappearing beds, ample closet room, roof garden, porcelain refrigerators, gas ranges, etc., in fact every convenience of an up-to-date apt. house.” In 1928, an classified ad for the Normandie promised “an ideal home for business people” with “no squeaky floors or thin partitions.”
What was routine for local landlords during Seattle’s 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair was a regular practice for the Normandie as well. Prices were raised. Through the duration of the Fair, the Normandie’s managers referred to their apartment house as an “apartment hotel” and charged the higher “daily rates only.” The Normandie was promoted as only “five blocks to the Monorail terminal and department stores.” After that half-year of sometimes unfair fair accommodations, news from the aging Normandie was limited to a few funeral notices for residents, and a 1974 notice that along with its close-by neighbors, Horizon House and the Cambridge Apartments, the Normandie was included in “area 197” of the federal government’s list of bomb shelters.
In spite of Seattle’s many hills and ridges and imbricating waterways, the lay of our land is much more picturesque than precipitous. This First Hill intersection is an exception. After climbing east from 8th Avenue, the steep grade on University Street stopped here and the street took a right turn (to the left) down 9th Avenue to Union Street. The alternative, continuing east on University, was strictly for pedestrians using the stairs evident in the featured postcard. Normandie residents enjoyed the added convenience of a pedestrian bridge that accessed the apartments’ top floor from the upper and eastern half of this eccentric intersection.
Anything to add, gents? Jean, here’s a game. Ron reminds us that we used the featured photo at the top in a previous feature as a “supporter” or more evidence for another subject. Ron suggests that we invite the readers into a “hide-and-seek” for it, while assuring them that it is not included in the last of the dozen or so features he will next post below these salutations and explanations.
Perched near, and somehow above, the sidewalk on the east side of Second Avenue, Frank Nowell, the photographer of this flood of fashionable pedestrians, is standing about a half-block north of Stewart Street. The crowd seems to spill onto Second from what the Times called the “immense viewing stand” on its west side.The pack has gathered to celebrate President Teddy Roosevelt’s ‘Great White Fleet’ during its four-day visit to Seattle. The American battleships were circumnavigating the world in a show of her military prowess.
Designed to support a mix of spectators paying a dollar a seat and free-loading dignitaries, the Chamber of Commerce enlarged the viewing stand from ten-to fifteen- thousand seats in hurried construction the week before the grand parade of Tuesday May 26,1908. Nowell’s camera (for the featured photo at the top) points to the northwest, so given the shadows on both the celebrants’ faces and The Harvard Hotel at the northwest corner of Virginia Street and Second Avenue, it seems likely that this was recorded after the morning parade when its route was safe to swarm.
Before the parade, the Times predicted “a sea of bright-colored summer costumes and striking hats.” Many of those bonnets included ostrich feathers, and surely some of those plumes were purchased at the Bon Marche’s May 21 sale priced from $1.50 to $6.95, depending upon the color and length. The Bon also predicted
that the four-day visit of fourteen battleships from Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet would be “the greatest event in Seattle history.” It may have been, in terms of condensed sensation, remembering that in 1908 there were no radio, television or smart phones to distract one from mixing with others in patriotic fervor and sartorial show.
It was this newspaper’s penchant to print on its editorial page the latest estimate for the city’s booming population. At the time of the fleet’s visit, it was 276,462, plus about 125,000 more who reached Seattle by all means possible. Seattle’s suburbs were abandoned, the Times reported. Full-up, the Great Northern Railroad “left 250 standing on the platform in Wenatchee.” Fifteen-thousand arrived by railroad in one afternoon, which the newspaper headlined, “Chaos Reigns in King Street Station.” In its front-page afternoon summary of the morning parade, the newspaper estimated a total of about 400,000 for those watching the parade and marching in it. The latter included 6000 men from the Fleet.
This newspaper’s weeklong coverage of the Atlantic Fleet’s sensational visit is truly wondrous and often whimsical. Readers, we are fond of reminding them, can use their Seattle Public Library cards for online explorations of the Seattle Times Archives. You will be taken away. And while delving we recommend both historylink’s essay on the fleet’s visit and Bob Royer’s astute reflections on his own blog The Cascadia Courier. Here’s the link http://www.thecascadiacourier.com/2014/07/the-arrival-of-great-white-fleet-in.html. I suspect that many readers will remember his early 1980s term as Seattle’s Deputy Mayor and brotherly advisor to Charles Royer, mayor then and for many years following. Bob Royer is presently historylink’s Chairman of the Board.
Anything to add, lads? Gosh Jean we spent a good part of the afternoon searching the archive here in Wallingford for a sizeable stack of glass negatives of scenes from the fleet’s 1908 visit, but failed to find them. Our club of addendums have now another member. When we find them we will print them. Otherwise we have, as is our custom, a few part features – most of them recent – from the neighborhood. Thanks to Ron Edge for helping us mount them this week again.
The Atlantic Fleet also paused at Port Angeles, and marched in both Bellingham and Tacoma. The first two views below are of the Whatcom parade and the third one shows the Tacoma Harbor -Commencement Bay – light show for the fleet (some fleet – perhaps a later one. I also seem to have misplaced my copy of Building Washington, which includes a thumbnail history of the Tacoma City Hall and clock included in the spotlighted Tacoma scene.)
A Post-Intelligencer photographer standing at the summit of First Hill snapped this photograph at the intersection of James Street and Broadway in February 1940. That was forty-nine years and a few months after the electric trolleys, on the left, and the James Street cable cars, on the right, first started meeting here beside the Union
Trunk Line’s big red brick powerhouse and car barn stationed at the northeast corner. Either on the instruction of the photographer, or motivated by a ceremonial urge, the crews of these cars are waving to each other across the short distance between them in the featured photo at the top. They are waving goodbye. This is the end – or nearly.
Carolyn Marr, the Museum of History and Industry’s (MOHAI) librarian, tells us that the “given date” for this P-I negative is February 23, 1940. This introduces a small problem, because the James Street cable cars made their last run around midnight on February the 17th. Perhaps, the date written on the negative holder
is its filing date. For some cable car enthusiasts a sorrier possibility is that the cable car is here heading for its scrapping. (This seemed unlikely to our attentive PacificNW editor, who wondered if this is headed for scrap what will become of the woman passenger? We wondered – somewhat lamely in return – that perhaps this is the conductor’s wife, on board to support here hubby on his last ride.) This junking followed in the first year after the cars stopped carrying passengers up what the Seattle Times Associate Editor, James Woods, admiringly described as its half-century “elevator service” up the hill from Pioneer Square to this its summit.
In the April 4th printing of his feature, “Speaking for the Times,” Woods proposed, “Why not keep that James Street cable line going? . . . This would be greatly to the convenience and comfort of many people. It would also have advertising value, as one of the only two cable lines in American cities. In that respect we would rate a James Street cable car considerably higher than a totem pole.” Editor Woods was alluding to the arson-torched and dry-rotting Pioneer Square totem that was then being replaced, near James Street, with a replica. Clearly it was a restoration that the editor compared unfavorably to bringing back the James Streets cable cars.
There’s another dating ambiguity here. Although difficult, and perhaps for some impossible, to read, a poster holding to the right-front of the cable car promotes the 47th Annual Policemen’s Ball scheduled for Thursday, February 22 at the Municipal Coliseum. [We have inserted a blow-up of the poster five prints up.] The top of the poster advises, “Ride The Street Cars.” That would be difficult on this cable car from this position on this corner. The cable cars on James stopped running, we remember, on the Saturday night of February 17, 1940.
MOHAI has consigned the decidedly low number 27,175 to our featured negative from its P-I Collection. Howard Giske, the museum’s now long-time pro-photographer, advises, “We are still numbering that collection. It is a work-in-progress that is now reaching two million negatives. We suspect that it will reach far beyond that.” And we add and hope that ultimately most of this collection will be on line for all to share and use, and that the museum’s library will be generously funded to do it.
Anything to add, fellahs? Lots of links from the neighborhood and or of more ‘rails’ mounted by Ron Edge. Most of them will be familiar to regulars. Following that – Jean – you have promised to share a few of the scenes you gathered his past week on your and Karen’s visit to the Columbia Gorge. Our readers I know will love them. I do. I hope you put them up first thing Sunday morning.