Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: the Mukilteo ferry, 1932

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: This 1932 image, made into a postcard, looks north and slightly west, showing the private Mukilteo ferry dock, fronted by a baseball field. The state’s new Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, opened in December 2020, stands one-third mile to the east of the old landing. (J.A. Juleen, Northwest History Room, Everett Public Library)
THEN2: A close-in view, likely taken the same day, of the Mukilteo ferry. Vehicles are (left) a 1930-31 International and a 1929-30 Chevrolet. (J.A. Juleen, Northwest History Room, Everett Public Library)
NOW1: The state ferry Suquamish cruises northwest toward Clinton as it passed the old Mukilteo dock, now a street end next to Ivar’s. To reach the new terminal, cars must turn one-third mile east. (Colleen Chartier)
NOW2: With a Native longhouse design and fronted by interpretive signs and benches, the new Mukilteo terminal awaits vehicles boarding the Suquamish ferry. (Colleen Chartier)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Aug. 11, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Aug. 14, 2022

Century of Mukilteo ferrying leads to new Native-themed terminal
By Clay Eals

Sooner or later, for functionality or fun, most of us living in Puget Sound get out on the water. So let’s time-travel to the era when motor vehicles first came into vogue.

You’re a saltwater town at the foot of a hill, near the mushrooming metropolis of Seattle, and also just four miles across the brine from a beckoning island paradise. What do you do? Launch a ferry.

THEN3: Shown in 1921, the privately operated Mukilteo ferry opened in 1916. Aboard is a 1917-1920 touring car. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)

Mukilteo did so in 1916, connecting with equally tiny Clinton on the southern tip of Whidby (no “e” at the time) Island. The ferry ran two times daily, twice that on weekends. The fare was $1 for car and driver, a quarter per additional passenger.

The Mukilteo-Clinton ferry cinched a scenic loop that had been fostered three years earlier with establishment of a north-island ferry at Deception Pass, whose classic bridge wouldn’t be built until 1934.

The outcome: a trip of “much beauty,” wrote Douglas Shelor, automotive editor, in the Sept. 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “a diversion that every motorist looking for something a little different from the general run of two-day trips should not fail to take.”

THEN4: Circa 1918, cars line up for the Mukilteo ferry facing west along Front Street. The background smokestack was part of Crown Lumber, which closed in 1930. It could produce 200,000 board feet of lumber per day. The Crown site was used for ammunition transfer during World War II and as a “tank farm” (aviation fuel depot) during the Korean War. It now is home to the new Mukilteo ferry terminal. Cars shown are (from left) possibly a 1914 Cadillac, a 1916-17 Studebaker, a 1917-18 Ford Model T, unidentified, a 1917-18 Ford Model T and others. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)

Vessels were small, holding only a few vehicles at a time, but the P-I assured that “those who may feel timid in driving their machines on the ferry under [their] own power may roll the car on in perfect safety.”

Fast-forward through a century of growth: Puget Sound’s cluster of competitive ferry operations morphed into the Black Ball Line, which the state bought in 1951. Mukilteo’s dock was reconstructed in 1952 and modernized in 1980.

But usage also ballooned. During 2019, the most recent pre-COVID year, the 20-minute crossing carried 2,276,967 vehicles, the highest number of any route in the state system. To say Mukilteo suffered traffic tie-ups would be like saying Elvis sold a few records. Standstills became the norm.

NOW3: Beneath circular Native art at the new terminal, two men hustle up a stairway to board the Suquamish ferry at Mukilteo. (Colleen Chartier)

In response, the state built a much larger, seismically safe terminal one-third mile east. Partly in recognition of Mukilteo as the site of the landmark 1855 Point Elliott Treaty signing, the state fashioned the $187 million terminal as a Native American art-filled longhouse summoning the rich heritage of the Coast Salish People, specifically the Tulalip tribes. Since the terminal opened in December 2020, it has netted more than 25 awards.

The terminal’s designer, Seattle-based LMN Architects, will be showcased Aug. 20-26 at the Seattle Design Festival, SeaDesignFest.org. Given the terminal’s ties to the past, improved transit links, sustainable elements and the potent symbolism of travel, the festival’s 2022 theme of “Connection” is apt.

Just like our relationship with the water itself.

The Mukilteo lighthouse, west of the old ferry terminal, in 1932. At far right is a 1924-26 Chevrolet, and the car with a trailer is a 1928-29 Ford Model A. (J.A. Juleen, Northwest History Room, Everett Public Library)
NOW4: The new terminal showcases Native-themed artwork. (Colleen Chartier)
NOW5: One-third-mile east of the old Mukilteo dock, solar panels top the Native longhouse design of the new terminal. (Colleen Chartier)

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Peter Anderson, archivist for the Mukilteo Historical Society; Molly Michal of the Seattle Design Festival; Alicia Barnes of Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society; Diane Rhodes, Suanne Pelly and Ian Sterling of Washington State Ferries; Priscilla Strettell of the Northwest History Room of Everett Public Library; Bob Carney, automotive expert extraordinaire; and especially photographer Colleen Chartier for their help with this installment!

A good backgrounder on the Mukilteo ferry terminal is an article from the Dec. 30, 2020, edition of the Lynnwood Times.

Below are two documents and 24 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

And in lieu of a 360 video, we top off this installment with a gallery of 43 additional present-day photos of the Mukilteo terminal by Colleen Chartier!

Letter from Mrs. Frank Hatten to the Mukilteo Historical Society, June 22, 1967. (Courtesy Mukilteo Historical Society)
Click the image to see a pdf of interpretive signboards for the new Mukilteo ferry terminal. (Washington State Ferries)
Feb. 23, 1904, Seattle Times, page 10.
Sept. 13, 1913, Seattle Times, page 10.
June 18, 1913, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
May 9, 1916, Seattle Times, page 17.
Sept. 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 39.
Sept. 20, 1916, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.
July 4, 1919, Labor Journal.
July 8, 1919, Seattle Times, page 20.
June 4, 1920, Seattle Times, page 12.
Aug. 8, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
Aug. 22, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 38.
May 16, 1922, Seattle Star.
May 16, 1922, Seattle Times, page 21.
May 20, 1922, Seattle Times, page 5.
Jan. 16, 1924, Seattle Times, page 23.
Feb. 10, 1926, Seattle Times, page 13.
June 6, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 70.
Dec. 3, 1926, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 21, 1927, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
June 2, 1927, Anacortes American.
June 18, 1927, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
June 26, 1927, Seattle Times, page 33.
May 14, 1928, Seattle Times, page 23.
Sept. 11, 1939, Seattle Times, page 17.
May 29, 1949, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.

 

 

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

(Click to enlarge photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Point: Grit City.

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

Point: the City of Destiny for the snub.

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

Her favorite:

POULTRY IN TACOMA

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Seattle Now & Then: Woman’s Relief Corps, 1908

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Twenty-two members of the Bothell post of the Woman’s Relief Corps (and two men) sit and stand outside the 1893 William Hannan home in Bothell in 1908. Standing, from left: Josephine Bothell Burns, Della Bothell Young, Etta Adams, Isabelle Woody, Kitty Burgess, Ida Anderson, May Bothell Platner, Alta Elliott Violet Hanschel, Mrs. (first name unavailable) Ellis, Neal Bothell Baley, Jemima “Mima” Hannan (wife of William) and Rachel Keener. Seated on chairs, from left: Amy Campbell, Maggie Dutton, Aunt Bessy (last name unavailable), Mrs. S.F. Woody Sr. and Grandma Annis (full name unavailable). Seated in front, from left: unknown, Marie Campbell, Bertha Dutton Ross and Hannah Staples. At rear left are homeowner William Hannan and, to his right, son Almon Hannan. (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)
NOW: Repeating the pose at the William Hannan home, now situated at Bothell Landing and housing the Bothell Historical Museum (BothellHistoricalMuseum.org), are 18 women, four girls and a man, including several descendants of historical city figures. Complete identifications follow. Standing, back left: Bill Carlyon, great-grandson of Bothell pioneers William and Jemima Hannon and grandson of Gladys Hannan Worley, their daughter, who was born and married in the parlor. Standing, from left: Pat Pierce, Jill Keeney, Jeanette Backstrom, Sue Kienast, Melanie Carlyon McCracken (daughter of Bill and Emmy Carlyon and great, great granddaughter of the Hannans), Pippin Sardo, Emmy Carlyon (wife of Bill Carlyon), Margaret Turcott, JoAnne Hunt, Linda Avery, Margaret Carroll, Mary Evans and Pamela McCrae. Seated, from left: Terry Roth, Iva Metz, Carol King, Nancy Velando and Mary Anne Gibbons. Children in front, from left: Wendy Stow (Linda Avery’s granddaughter) and Camille, Evelyn and Mira McCracken (great, great, great granddaughters of the Hannans). Camille and Evelyn flank a life-size doll. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on July 28, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on July 31, 2022

Born of war, Woman’s Relief Corps fed nation’s ‘higher sphere’
By Clay Eals

One of my mentors — the late Elliott Couden, an open-housing advocate in the 1960s who 20 years later founded the Southwest Seattle Historical Society — once lamented that as a boy, he had to learn history by memorizing timelines keyed mostly to wars. “We didn’t get very much into what relation we as individuals have to this society,” he said.

NOW: Historian Richard Heisler at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery. For info on his Aug. 3 talk, click here. (Clay Eals)

He could have been reading the mind, and heart, of Richard Heisler. During the pandemic, the energetic equestrian artist and historian, 49, focused his research on the estimated 3,500 Civil War veterans and their families who migrated to King County near the turn of the 20th century. Heisler, of Bothell, has unearthed direct links between these vets and the rise of the town east of Lake Washington’s northern tip.

Nationally, starting in 1866, many of the war’s surviving Union soldiers formed the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) fraternal organization. In 1883, their wives, along with daughters and other descendants and supporters, began gathering in posts of an auxiliary, the Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC).

THEN: An alternate view of the Woman’s Relief Corps gathering at the William Hannan house in 1908. (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)

The Bothell WRC post began in 1902, and 22 of its members (plus two discreetly positioned men) populate our “Then” photo from 1908. They pose outside the city’s 1893 William Hannan home, which stands today at Bothell Landing along the Sammamish River, a half-mile west of its original site. Pristinely restored, it houses the Bothell Historical Museum.

NOW: At Bothell Pioneer Cemetery, the two-sided monument for David and Mary Ann Bothell includes a Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) insignia for David and a Woman’s Relief Corps (WRC) insignia for Mary Ann. The FCL acronym on Mary Ann’s side indicates the GAR and WLC slogan: “Fraternity. Charity. Loyalty.” (Clay Eals)

Bothell, the city, derives from a family by the same name. Heisler pointedly notes that the only graphic symbols on a Bothell Pioneer Cemetery monument for founder David Bothell (1820-1905) and his wife Mary Ann (1823-1907), parents of George, the city’s first mayor, are of the GAR for David and WRC for Mary Ann.

Other local luminaries had ties to the war’s Union forces and their abolitionist, Lincoln Republican ways of thinking, Heisler says. “We think it was all so distant,” he says, “but many veterans and their families came west and walked the streets all over this county.”

WRC posts produced patriotic Memorial Day observances, installed flags and monuments and even supported women’s suffrage. At an 1885 Seattle gathering, the GAR’s J.C. Haines saluted their role: “We welcome you because you have demonstrated that woman has a higher sphere than any that man can ever lay claim to — a sphere as broad as human sorrow, as lasting as humanity itself.”

Today, the WRC has receded locally, but it lives on in Heisler’s talks, including one set for 6 p.m. Aug. 3, at the Bothell Library, for the Bothell museum. “This is not an abstract thing,” he says. “These are people.”

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Bill Woodward, Pat Pierce, Jill Keeney and especially Richard Heisler for their help with this installment!

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

Below are two additional photos, two videos and 22 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

THEN: Complete with a live Statue of Liberty, a 1908 Bothell Independence Day float salutes the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). The FCL flag stands for: “Fraternity. Charity. Loyalty.” (Courtesy Bothell Historical Museum)
NOW: In this alternate view, posing before the William Hannan home (now headquarters of the Bothell Historical Museum) are, standing from left, Pamela McCrae, Jill Keeney, JoAnne Hunt, Margaret Carroll, Emmy Carlyon, Terry Roth, Margaret Turcott, Pat Pierce, Mary Evans and Bill Carlyon and, seated from left, Nancy Velando, Mary Anne Gibbons, Carol King, Camille McCracken, Melanie Carlyon McCracken, Mira McCracken, Iva Metz, Pippin Sardo and Evelyn McCracken. Historian Richard Heisler peeks over umbrella at left. (Jean Sherrard)
VIDEO (14:00): Click the image above to see historian Richard Heisler describe the Civil War connections to early leaders of Bothell, Washington, at Bothell Pioneer Cemetery. (Clay Eals)
VIDEO (2:12): Click the title card above to see three Bothell residents talk about the importance of their ties to the past. (Clay Eals)
March 27, 1884, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
April 16, 1885, National Tribune, weekly for Civil War veterans and families.
Oct. 2, 1887, Seattle Star.
Sept. 18, 1888, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Aug. 27, 1896, Seattle Times, page 8.
July 27, 1898, Seattle Times, page 8.
Feb. 26, 1899, Seattle Times, page 6.
Feb. 28, 1899, Seattle Times, page 1.
May 30, 1899, Seattle Times, page 2.
June 24, 1899, Seattle Times, page 14.
March 10, 1900, Seattle Times, page 17.
Nov. 1, 1899, Seattle Times, page 4.
June 25, 1901, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p12.
March 1, 1902, Seattle Star.
May 31, 1902, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
March 2, 1902, Seattle Times, page 39.
July 14, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
July 14, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10B.
Oct. 24, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p19.
June 4, 1975, Seattle Times, page 35.
April 15, 1973, Seattle Times, page 101.
March 19, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p41.
May 28, 1978, Seattle Times, page 14.

 

 

 

Seattle Now & Then: from Railroad Avenue to Alaskan Way, 1934

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

NOW: As shown two blocks north of Lenora Street from today’s Bell Street overpass, the Eight Arcs — the Seattle Great Wheel, Lumen Field, T-Mobile Park and Mount Rainier — shine in the crisp magic light of a late afternoon in early January 2022. (Jean Sherrard)
THEN1: Taken from a Lenora Street overpass that was removed in 1983, this view looks south along the timber trestle of then-Railroad Avenue on June 22, 1934. The Smith Tower presides at distant center. (Seattle Municipal Archives)

Published in The Seattle Times online on July 21, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on July 24, 2022

‘Eight Arcs’ tableau signifies transformation on Alaskan Way
By Clay Eals

You can see it looking south along Alaskan Way, but only for a block and a half at street level starting at Pier 66 or atop the Bell Street overpass, and only on clear days. To me, it symbolizes a century of transformation for Seattle’s shore. It’s a tableau that I call the Eight Arcs.

In our “Now” photo, front to back, count ’em:

  • The Seattle Great Wheel (2012).
  • The twin roof ridges of Lumen Field (2002, originally Seahawks Stadium then Qwest Field).
  • The four roof ridges of T-Mobile Park (1999, originally Safeco Field).
  • The curved countenance of Mount Rainier (1 to 2 million years ago, originally Tahoma).

This pleasing juxtaposition serves both today’s saltwater tourists and the roadway’s recently arrived condominium dwellers. For them, it’s a place of play.

But little — besides the pointed Smith Tower (1914) in the distance — is the same when you zip back nearly 90 years to our “Then” scene, along what had long been named Railroad Avenue.

Taken on an overcast Friday, June 22, 1934, from the Lenora Street overpass (1930-1983), the photo reveals what we characterize as a working waterfront, with side-by-side wharves, rail tracks and a divided, wooden boulevard beneath which washed the tides of Elliott Bay.

With much of its former train traffic undergrounded in a nearby tunnel, and as cars used the timber trestle to bypass the upland business district, this byway spelled sporadic trouble. To wit, on Nov. 24, 1934, a car skidded on tracks near Lenora, plunged 15 feet through the center split and landed upside down in 3 feet of water. The stunned driver was unhurt.

Thankfully, progress on the route already was afoot. In this Depression decade, work had begun to pave the thoroughfare and close its gap, remove its above-ground electrical wiring and poles and, most important, construct a protective western seawall, finished in 1936.

Such enterprise inspired the city to give the water-hugging street a more relevant, elegant name. More than 9,000 ideas poured in, many invoking the expansive sobriquet of “Way.”

THEN2: Robert H. Harlin, who had served as Seattle mayor in 1931-32, inserted the “n” in Alaskan Way as the new name for Railroad Avenue while serving on the city council in July 1936. (W.H. Dahl, Seattle Municipal Archives)

With a decision nigh on July 6, 1936, the leading contender was Pacific Way. However, in a nod to the role Seattle’s waterfront played in the late-1890s Klondike Gold Rush, as well as to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (the city’s first world’s fair), Alaska Way slipped in as the finish-line favorite.

To honor “the men and women who pioneered the territory,” councilman and former mayor Robert Harlin appended the letter “n.”

The result, Alaskan Way, still provides a touch of humanity along the road to today’s Eight Arcs.

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Ron Edge, Bob Carney , Gavin MacDougall and Mike Bergman for their help with this installment!

Below are two additional alternate images from our NOW view and 41 clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column. Among the clips are 20 exploring the fascinating process of renaming Railroad Avenue, plus 8 historical pieces by our column founder, Paul Dorpat!

Our NOW photo from a slightly different position. (Jean Sherrard)
Our NOW photo from a slightly different position. (Jean Sherrard)
May 4, 1930, Seattle Times, p18.
May 27, 1934, Seattle Times, p56.
July 8, 1934, Seattle Times, p35.
July 22, 1934, Seattle Times, p51.
Nov. 1, 1934, Seattle Times, p21.
Nov. 2, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
Nov. 2, 1934, Seattle Times, p11.
Nov. 25, 1934, Seattle Times, p11.
Dec. 21, 1934, Seattle Times, p11.
Dec. 30, 1934, Seattle Times, p19.
Dec. 30, 1934, Seattle Times, p21.
Jan. 13, 1935, Seattle Times, p8.
Feb. 2, 1935, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
Feb. 6, 1935, Seattle Times, p2.
Feb. 8, 1935, Seattle Times, p2.
Feb. 17, 1935, Seattle Times editorial, p6.
Feb. 19, 1935, Seattle Times, p1.
Feb. 20, 1935, Seattle Times, p1.
Feb. 24, 1935, Seattle Times, p8.
Feb. 25, 1935, Seattle Times, p2.
Feb. 25, 1935, Seattle Times, p7.
Feb. 26, 1935, Seattle Times, p11.
Feb. 27, 1935, Seattle Times, p23.
Feb. 28, 1935, Seattle Times, p14.
March 3, 1935, Seattle Times, p10.
March 8, 1935, Seattle Times, p35.
March 22, 1935, Seattle Times, p6.
March 24, 1935, Seattle Times, p12.
July 28, 1935, Seattle Times, p87.
July 7, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p1.
July 7, 1936, Seattle Times, p1.
July 7, 1936, Seattle Times, p5.
Dec. 26, 2004, Seattle Times.

 

 

July 31, 2005, Seattle Times, p143.
July 2, 2006, Seattle Times.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times, p138.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times, p139.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times, p143.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times, p144.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times, p145.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times, p146.
Jan. 21, 2007, Seattle Times.
Oct. 21, 2007, Seattle Times.
April 13, 2008, Seattle Times.
June 29, 2008, Seattle Times.

Seattle Now & Then: Fall City parade, 1954

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: The horse-drawn Fall City Women’s Bowling League cart rolls past the Fall City Hotel and Café during the town’s 1954 Strawberry Festival parade. (Courtesy Fall City Historical Society)
THEN2: A procession of seven soap-box derby cars is towed on the same route in the 1956 parade. The Fall City Hotel and Café’s neon sign glows, with the initial letter in the bottom word alternating to drive home the message “GOOD” and “FOOD.” (Larry Divers, courtesy Fall City Historical Society)
NOW: In front of the same building, now the El Caporal Family Mexican Restaurant, the Mount Si High School Wildcats Dance Team entertains during this year’s Fall City Day parade on June 11. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on July 14, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on July 17, 2022

A parade of community continuity thrives in tiny Fall City
By Clay Eals

Is anything so timeless and appealing as a parade? From musical to commercial, from patriotic to protesting (which in turn is patriotic), a parade engages countless participants and onlookers, encompassing every age, setting, group and cause. All you need is two feet — or wheels — and the willingness to move.

Parades happen so often that movie characters on the run momentarily evade capture by joining one. In 1984, I saw a local political candidate become so entranced by a parade’s effect that after one cruise along the route he circled back to the end of the line and motored through again.

There’s just something innate that draws us together in person, what I’ve learned to label the Original Social Media: Face to Face. Especially in a neighborhood or small town, a parade embodies this, weaving a powerful spell. Seemingly everyone sees everyone, breathes the same air and exchanges smiles and waves.

And this summer, after a two-year pandemic hiatus, parades are back all over the county. One of the earliest took place June 11 in Fall City, the unincorporated burg 25 miles east of Seattle. The route, on Redmond-Fall City Road paralleling the Snoqualmie River, has served the tiny town’s annual processions since the post-World War II early 1950s.

Greater gatherings surrounded the parades, of course. Initially, the event was called the Strawberry Festival before morphing into Fall City Derby Day, saluting a Cub Scouts soap-box race and showcasing Derby Darlings atop a float. (One year, in 1968, the parade gave way to a River Drift, in which a 35-gallon metal barrel was dropped into the Snoqualmie, and citizens guessed how long it would take for the barrel to float 3.2 miles to a finish line.)

NOW: Commemorative button given away at this year’s Fall City Day by the Fall City Historical Society. (Clay Eals)

A new name emerged in 1971: Fall City Days and Logging Show. This year’s post-virus rebound was simply Fall City Day, celebrating 150 years since establishment of the hamlet’s first post office. Accoutrements included the traditional dunk tank and watermelon-eating contest.

One sign of community continuity along the parade route is a building at 337th Place Southeast whose legacy stretches to the late 1880s, when it began life as a hotel and restaurant. Over the decades, its name, functions and roofline have changed, but it has stood as a parade touchpoint, next to the reviewing stand.

NOW: Ruth Pickering, Fall City Historical Society director, beams after serving as grand marshal of this year’s parade. (Clay Eals)

The Fall City Historical Society’s history books have tracked those incarnations faithfully, thanks in no small part to the group’s longtime director, the vigilant Ruth Pickering, this year’s parade grand marshal. “Rural towns are an important thing,” she maintains. “They’re kind of an endangered species.”

Unlike, thank goodness, their parades!

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Bob Carney, Emily and Bruce Howard and Ruth Pickering for their help with this installment!

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

Below are four documents from the Fall City Historical Society, an offbeat historical blurb from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library), and three sets of additional photos that augment this column.

Click the image above to read a report on the hotel/cafe corner depicted in our “Then” and “Now” photos. (Fall City Historical Society)
Click the image above to read a report on Fall City’s annual celebrations. (Fall City Historical Society)
Click the image above to read a 2007 report on Ruth Pickering. (Fall City Historical Society)
Click the image above to see the welcome brochure of the Fall City Historical Society. (Fall City Historical Society)
Need evidence of the staying power of parades? Read this oddball item from the June 15, 1882, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Parades R us!

In three groups, here are 93 additional photos (click twice on each one to enlarge it):

  • 15 photos from the Memorial Stadium endpoint of the 1965 Seafair Torchlight Parade, by Katherine Drazic, courtesy of Teresa Anderson.
  • 30 photos from the June 11, 2022, Fall City parade by Jean Sherrard. Click twice on each photo to enlarge it.
  • 48 from the 1956 Fall City parade by Larry Divers and courtesy of the Fall City Historical Society.

 

Seattle Now & Then: The Civic Auditorium, 1928

(click to enlarge photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Louisa Boren Denny and David Denny with their two daughters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle Now & Then: Masonic Home of Washington, 1928

To  sign a petition to save the Masonic Home, visit here.

=====

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: The Grand Lodge of Washington & Alaska visits the Masonic Home in Zenith on June 17, 1928, one year after the home opened as a retirement center for Freemasons and their wives. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
NOW: More than 100 people support the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation (PreserveWA.org) in front of the fenced-off Masonic Home, including ex-Des Moines mayor Richard Kennedy (mid-left, with accordion) and 8 elected officials: Des Moines City Council member JC Harris (right of Kennedy, red hat), King County Executive Dow Constantine (left, black jacket), King County Council member Joe McDermott (behind Constantine, left), state Rep. Tina Orwall (D-33rd, behind Constantine, right), state Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33rd, standing center, blond hair, print shirt), Normandy Park Mayor Sue-Ann Hohimer (right of Orwall), Normandy Park City Council member Earnest Thompson (right of Harris), Highline School Board member Azeb Hagos (front, standing, second from left, print shirt) and SeaTac City Council member Peter Kwon (back row, left center, dark glasses). (Clay Eals)

Published in The Seattle Times online on June 30, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on July 3, 2022

Will Des Moines’ majestic Masonic Home be demolished?
By Clay Eals

Near the south King County waterfront suburb of Des Moines, 10-year-old Richard Kennedy tickled his accordion keys to perform the “Lone Ranger” TV theme (the “William Tell Overture” finale) in a 1964 recital on the stage of the Masonic Home of Washington.

He had no idea he would grow up to be mayor of Des Moines and later lead the Des Moines Historical Society’s effort to save the same structure inside which he’d played the clarion call.

NOW: Richard Kennedy, Des Moines Historical Society director, local history-book author and former mayor, points to the Masonic Home in its context of downtown Des Moines (left) and Puget Sound in an enlarged aerial photo of the city circa 1987. (Clay Eals)

What would Kennedy’s hometown be without the majestic, 95-year-old edifice, sparkling from its hillside for all to see from land and Puget Sound?

“Des Moines would slowly become just another place without anything to denote it from the next town,” he says. “We’ve lost so much. The history is gone, there’s very little left. The Masonic Home is the most outstanding building in the city.”

Technically, the Masonic Home — built in 1925-27 by the European-rooted Freemasons fraternal assembly as a statewide residence for elderly members and wives “who have ceased to bear the heat and burdens of the day” — was erected not in Des Moines but one mile south in the community of Zenith.

But in 1982, Des Moines annexed Zenith, and in a town known for massive retirement complexes, the Chateauesque, five-floor Masonic Home stands preeminent. As city-council member JC Harris told the Waterland Blog earlier this year, “The Masonic Home is Des Moines. We all just live here.”

Closed as a retirement center in the mid-2000s, it hosted events for several years. The Masons studied its conversion to assisted living, a tourist casino or communal workspaces but determined that rehabilitation, costing $40 million, would not pencil out. In 2019, they sought a city demolition permit and sold the home. The current owner is Sumner-based Zenith Properties, which has filed its own wrecking-ball permit request.

In response, Des Moines began an environmental review, inviting citizen comments this spring and triggering an advocacy alert by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. But the city, says Bonnie Wilkins, city clerk, has advised its council members to stay mum to achieve an appearance of fairness during the extended study because council comments could prompt a developer lawsuit. “It’s pretty serious stuff,” she says.

That doesn’t deter the passionate JC Harris, who promotes the Masonic Home’s preservation, envisioning it as a park, city hall and/or community center, complete with coffee or wine bar: “It’s one of the most beautiful things in all of Puget Sound, which makes it one of the most beautiful things on the planet Earth.”

The stage is set for a Lone Ranger-type rescue.

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Mike Shaughnessy, Richard Kennedy, Kevin Hall, Chris Moore and Huy Phan for their help with this installment. Additional kudos go to the more than 100 people who turned out in the hot sun of May 22 to pose in our “Now” photo.

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

Below are a video of Des Moines City Council member JC Harris, six additional photos, a 1938 booklet, four reports and documents, six web links and two historical articles from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO (8:51): Click the image above to see and hear JC Harris, Des Moines City Council member, speak about why the Masonic Home of Washington should be preserved. (Clay Eals)
Groundbreaking ceremony for the Masonic Home of Washington, Aug. 8, 1925. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
Cornerstone ceremony, Masonic Home of Washington, May 1, 1926. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
Entrance to the Masonic Home of Washington, May 17, 2022. (Clay Eals)
Masonic Home of Washington from the air, May 26, 1996. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
Undated view of Masonic Home of Washington. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
Undated view of Masonic Home of Washington. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
Click the image above to download a pdf of a 24-page booklet from 1938 on the Masonic Home of Washington. (Courtesy Des Moines Historical Society)
Click image above to download a pdf of “The Three Masonic Homes of Washington State,” April 6, 2020, by architect Adam Alsobrook. (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)
Click on image above to download a pdf of the Historic Resource Report, May 27, 2020, by David Peterson, historic resource consultant. (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)
Click the image above to download a pdf of the city of Des Moines’ determination of significance for the Masonic Home of Washington, May 3, 2022. (City of Des Moines)
Click the image above to download a pdf of a letter of support for the demolition permit application by the grand master of the Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of Washington, Univeristy Place, May 16, 2022. (Zenith Properties)
PowerPoint slide from city of Des Moines online hearing, May 17, 2022.
PowerPoint slide from city of Des Moines online hearing, May 17, 2022.
PowerPoint slide from city of Des Moines online hearing, May 17, 2022.
PowerPoint slide from city of Des Moines online hearing, May 17, 2022.
PowerPoint slide from city of Des Moines online hearing, May 17, 2022.
PowerPoint slide from city of Des Moines online hearing, May 17, 2022.
Web links:
June 22, 1927, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p2.
June 22, 1927, Seattle Times, p16.

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

(click to enlarge photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEB EXTRAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(again, click twice to expand to full size)

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

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

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

Click twice to enlarge!

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

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

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

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

Seattle Now & Then: Bleitz Funeral Home, circa 1930

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Framed by three cars, including a 1927 Pierce-Arrow (center) and 1927 Cadillac (right), Bleitz Funeral Home presides next to the Fremont Bridge and along the Lake Washington Ship Canal circa 1930. The building’s architect and builder are unknown. (Pierson Photo Co., Emmick Family Collection )
NOW: In this wider view of the landmarked Bleitz building are (from left) Michael, Desirée and Craig Emmick, their firm’s 1972 Cadillac Miller Meteor hearse; Georgi Phelps of building owner Pastakia & Associates; Craig Smith of general contractor Foushée; and Leanne Olson, Maureen Elenga and Michael Herschensohn of the Queen Anne Historical Society. Demolition of a non-landmarked 1988 addition made possible the new, four-story office building at left. More info: the Bleitz page on Facebook and the Queen Anne Historical Society. (Clay Eals)

Published in The Seattle Times online on June 16, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on June19, 2022

Bleitz’s consumer-first legacy enlivens 101-year-old funeral home
By Clay Eals

From death can spring life. Case in point: the feisty, long-lasting Bleitz Funeral Home.

The 101-year-old edifice represents a customer-focused tradition at a prominent corner, hovering over the Lake Washington Ship Canal at the south end of the Fremont Bridge.

Serving bereaved families until 2017, the same year it was designated a Seattle landmark, it has entered a new phase as a fully leased office building, anchored by The North Face apparel firm. The pandemic-era preservation triumph was stewarded by its current owner, Pastakia & Associates of Seattle, and general contractor, Bellevue-based Foushée.

THEN: Jacob Bleitz (left) confers with his son, James, who followed in his father’s funeral-director footsteps. The chair in which James is sitting is still in use at Emmick Family Funeral Services in West Seattle. (Pierson Photo Co., Emmick Family Collection)

The stately, 2-1/2-floor concrete structure arose just four years after the ship canal and bridge were completed. Illinois-born Jacob Bleitz (pronounced “Blites”) had worked as an undertaker in Wichita before establishing a funeral business in 1904 in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood. After short partnerships in Fremont with morticians Edgar Ray Butterworth and John Rafferty, he crossed the bridge and settled his sole-owner mortuary in 1921 along Queen Anne’s industrial northern edge.

THEN: A full-page ad for Bleitz-Rafferty Co. in the Feb. 18, 1915, Seattle Star newspaper blasts overcharging for funeral services. Kilbourne Street is now North 36th Street in Fremont. (Washington Digital Newspapers)

From the start, dealing with death transcended mere business for Bleitz. He promoted affordability and excoriated undertakers he called predatory. “The People of Seattle Have Been Outrageously Overcharged for Funerals and Materials,” roared a full-page notice in the Feb. 18, 1915, Seattle Star. His ads promised the “lowest” prices. One even warned of “graft” by competitors whom Bleitz said gave away hundreds of Christmas turkeys to induce referrals.

April 19, 1938, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p18.

Long before it became popular, Bleitz also encouraged a cheaper alternative: cremation. In the late 1930s, he went further, patenting and using an ultra-hot-flame technique leaving no remains, called evaporation: “The New And Better Way … COSTS NO MORE … Gives a comfort never before known.” It didn’t catch on.

In the year Bleitz died, 1939, the family firm partnered with the new People’s Memorial Benefit Association, a cooperative that emphasized spiritual rather than material aspects of attending to the bereaved. Later, the Bleitz company became known in funeral circles for serving AIDS victims and the LGBTQ+ community when other mortuaries rejected them.

THEN3: Lawrence Bleitz (left), younger son of Jacob Bleitz, stands at the KJR radio microphone while an unknown organist performs at Bleitz Funeral Home circa 1930. The pipe organ was removed and donated in 2005 to Blessed Seelos Catholic Church in New Orleans as part of Hurricane Katrina recovery. (Pierson Photo Co., Emmick Family Collection)

Over the years, Bleitz Funeral Home handled more than 180,000 deaths, including the cremations of famed grunge rockers Andrew Wood in 1990 and Kurt Cobain in 1994. Today the building showcases “adaptive reuse,” meriting an award in May from the Queen Anne Historical Society.

Historian Michael Emmick embodies the Bleitz legacy via family connections. Working stints at Bleitz were Michael’s great-grandfather, Sam Frederiksen (1970s-80s); father, Craig Emmick (1975-2004); and wife, Desirée Emmick, (2015-17). Since 2014, the Emmicks have operated their own West Seattle funeral business, guided by the Bleitz approach — as Michael says, “not selling people something they don’t need.”

WEB EXTRAS

Thanks to Eric Jones, Tejal Pastakia, Bob Carney and the EmmicksCraig, Desirée and especially Michael — for their help with this installment.

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

Below are interviews of the Emmick family on video, two 2017 Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board documents, 41 additional photos, and 34 historical articles and ads from Washington Digital Newspapers (available via the Office of the Secretary of State) and The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

VIDEO (8:00): Click the image to see video interviews about Bleitz Funeral Home with Michael, Craig and Desiree Emmick of Emmick Family Funeral Services of West Seattle. (Clay Eals)
Click image above to download the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board minutes from April 19, 2017, regarding Bleitz Funeral Home.
Click image above to download the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designation report for Bleitz Funeral Home, April 24, 2017.
Drawing of Bleitz Funeral Home, 1921. (Emmick Family Collection)
Cars outside Bleitz Funeral Home. (Emmick Family Collection)
Casket letter, 1929. (Emmick Family Collection)
(From left) Jeanne, Lawrence and James Bleitz, children of Jacob Bleitz. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home, 1937. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives, Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home, 1937. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives, Emmick Family Collection)
1958 Cadillac and Chrysler outside Bleitz Funeral Home. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home, Sept. 20, 1960. (Puget Sound Regional Branch, Washington State Archives, Emmick Family Collection)
Irene Clay Bleitz, Jacob Bleitz’s wife, outside Bleitz Funeral Home, 1944. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home, 1981. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home, 1981. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home, 1981. (Emmick Family Collection)
Casket room, Bleitz Funeral Home, 1981. (Emmick Family Collection)
Staff atop entrance, Bleitz Funeral Home, 1981. (Emmick Family Collection)
Jacob Bleitz’s embalming certificate, June 1900. (Emmick Family Collection)
Jacob Bleitz’s cremation furnace patent, 1932. (Emmick Family Collection)
Jacob Bleitz and daughter-in-law Ebba Bleitz, August 1937. (Emmick Family Collection)
Larry Bleitz, son of Jacob, and Irene Bleitz, wife of Jacob, 1944. (Emmick Family Collection)
Möller organ, Bleitz Funeral Home, 1930s. (Emmick Family Collection)
Looking northwest: Bleitz Funeral Home at far left, Nickerson Street and Fremont Bridge. (Seattle Municipal Archives, Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz home, 1900 Magnolia Blvd. W. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz home, 1900 Magnolia Blvd W. (Emmick Family Collection)
Thank-you letter, April 8, 1927. (Emmick Family Collection)
1928 Reader’s Digest article, “Profiteering on Grief.” (Emmick Family Collection)
Mortuary Management article on showroom recommendations, February 1930. (Emmick Family Collection)
Financial accounting for Malan, 1936. (Emmick Family Collection)
Financial accounting for Nebenfuhr, 1936. (Emmick Family Collection)
Financial accounting for Repco, 1936. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz blueprint. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz blueprint. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz blueprint. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home casket and flowers. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home contract. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home staff, 1981, including Craig Emmick, wearing sunglasses, center. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home crying room. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home drawing. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home meeting room. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home podium and piano. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home reception room. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home chapel. (Emmick Family Collection)
Bleitz Funeral Home waiting room. (Emmick Family Collection)
Feb. 6, 1905, Seattle Times, p2.
Jan. 5, 1906, Seattle Times, p4.