Category Archives: Seattle Now and Then

Seattle Now & Then: First Hill Exceptions

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THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.
THEN: Looking east on University Street towards Ninth Avenue, ca. 1925, with the Normandie Apartments on the left.
NOW: On can still reach 9th Avenue on University Street, but by steps only, and f along that way one must meander through the creative labyrinth of concrete and waterfalls that is Freeway Park.
NOW: One can still reach 9th Avenue on University Street, but by steps only, and along that way one must meander through the creative labyrinth of concrete and waterfalls that is Freeway Park. (Jean Sherrard)

There were only two precipitous places along the west side of what the pioneers soon learned to call First Hill where an imprudent trailblazer might have fallen to injury or worse.  These steep exceptions would be obvious once the forest was reduced to stumps.  But when the old growth was intact it was best to stay on native paths or stray with caution, especially to two future prospects on 9th Avenue – the one near Jefferson St. and the other here on University Street.

Exploring the hillside behind Jefferson Terrace at 8th one can still intimate the cliff, which Seattle Housing’s largest and probably also highest low-income facility nestles.  Eighth Ave. stops just south of James Street at that high-rise, because the cliff behind it never would allow the avenue to continue south.

The other steep exception was here on University Street where it climbed – or tried to climb – east up First Hill between 8th and 9th Avenues.  The goal is half made. On University, 9th  has two levels and only pedestrians – like the gent here descending the steps – could and can still climb between them.  All others had to approach the lower of the two intersections from below.  They could throttle their motorcar into the photographer’s point-of-view west up University from 8th Avenue, or they could make another steep climb from the north, up from Hubble Place.

The bridge is another exception.  It reached from the upper intersection of 9th and University to the top floor of the Normandie Apartments, whose south façade we see here covered in Ivy.  Thanks to Jacqueline Williams and Diana James for a helpful peek into their work-in-progress “Shared Walls: Seattle Apartments 1900-1939.”  We learn that when it was built a century ago James Schack, the Normandie’s architect, included the bridge as a convenience to the big apartment’s residents who rented 84 units, and all of them with disappearing beds.

For another view of the same location prior to Freeway Park, check out this post at Vintage Seattle.

WEB-EXTRAS

Now follows four views of our subject: the steep northwest “corner” of First Hill.   All four look to the east-southeast from Denny Hill, or with the last of the four what replaced part of it, the New Washington Hotel.   In order, the circa dates are 1882, 1890, 1903 and 1911.  With a little more study the dates could be made precise for with the last three views especially there is enough internal evidence to encourage a reader to visit the public library’s Seattle Room for some fine tuning.

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I think it likely that this view of our subject was photographed mid-September 1882, by the famous California photographer Carleton Watkins.  From a platform he erected on the south or front hump of Denny Hill Carleton took an eight-part panorama, or so the Post-Intelligencer (rest in peace) claimed on Sept. 22, 1882.  “He got a very good view of Lake Union.”  Well, not so good really.  In that part of his pan the lake can barely be seen through the stumps and rejected trees of the ravaged forest.  But this view to the east-southeast is more revealing.  There is still a greenbelt of forest holding to that northwest corner of First Hill. Like Watkins’ obstructed look north to Lake Union, this is the first view of this part of First Hill – but I hope to be corrected by new discoveries.  (This photo was first shared with me by Loomis Miller.)

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We hope that there survive better prints of this view, which was also taken from the south summit of Denny Hill.  The corner of Third Ave. and Pike Street shows far right.  Our subject, far left, has been stripped of its forest, but not yet developed.  Being steep it is still land avoided for construction.  The Methodist Protestant church is nearing completion in the middle-ground at the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue.  “Bagley’s Church” lost its parish at Second and Madison to the “Great Fire” of 1889, and this congregation like many others sold their pioneer property for much more than this corner lot then still on the fringe cost them.  A likely date is 1890 or early 1891.  (Picture courtesy of Lawton Gowey)

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From this prospect of the old Denny/Washington Hotel atop that south summit of Denny Hill we may ascend the steeple of the Norwegian-Danish Lutheran Church at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Pine Street and continue to the barren hillside block bordered by 8th and 9th avenues and Seneca and University Street, our subject, or part of it.  To the left of this cleared block is the intersection of 9th and University – both levels of it.  A steep bank of spilled fill dirt separates them.  It is from the top of that formation that the bridge would lead to the upper floors of the Normandie.  Top-center is the Ohaveth Sholem Synagogue showing its rear facade.  It was built in 1892 for what was Seattle’s first Jewish congregation.  It sits close to the northwest corner of Seneca and 8th Avenue, where the Exeter is now, and across Seneca from where Christian Scientists would build what is now Town Hall at the southwest corner of Seneca and 8th.  The steeple of the Unitarian Church is far left, on the east side of 7th Avenue, north of Union Street.  Above the synagogue at the northeast corner of Minor Ave. and James Street, the tower of Castlemont, the first oversized home – or mansion – built on First Hill, punctures the horizon.  Col. Granville O. Haller was the owner.

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While Otto Frasch’s “real photo postcards” cannot always be dated by their number – here #210 – that is no excuse for my uncertainty of the exact date for this scene, which was taken not from Denny Hill (or Hotel) but from the New Washington Hotel at the northeast corner of Stewart Street and Second Avenue (now the Josephinum).  There certainly is a splendor of evidence here for dating – I just have not made the effort.  Like you dear reader, I’ll wait on another reader to peg the year, and perhaps even the month – or nearly and share them with us as a comment.  Here, far right, architect William Doty Van Siclen’s Northern Bank and Trust Company Building (now the Seaboard Building) at the northeast corner of 4th Avenue and Pike Street has its full-storied 1909 addition.  And the architect-developer Van Siclen’s namesake Van Siclen apartment building also appears here above the Seaboard Building, where facing 8th Avenue from its east side and mid-block between Seneca and University Streets, it is also a key to this week’s subject-neighborhood, that steep northwest corner of First Hill.  The Van Siclen was recently torn down, and the last I looked – when accompanying Jean for his “now” view in Freeway Park, it was still a hole.  (Perhaps Jean took a photo of it and will add it here later.)  The corner bottom-center is 4th Avenue and Pine Street.  The triangular Plaza Hotel with bay windows and nice details – frame not brick or tile – was built in 1906-07 when Westlake Avenue was being cut through the neighborhood between 4th and Pike and Denny Way.  The nearly new Normandie Apartments are easy to find, right-of-center at the northwest corner (lower level, you know) of 9th Avenue and University Street.  They appear above the roof of Hotel Wilhard.

As a closing on this subject, here is photographer Robert Bradley’s 1963 look into Seattle Freeway construction through the rubble of the apartment houses that once stood on the north side of Madison between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.  The freeway ditch here is not yet dug.  First Presbyterian is far right (the penultimate sanctuary to the modern one used now).   The Beaux-Arts Christian Scientist church – now Town Hall – is next.  Exeter House, another survivor, is at the scene’s center and like the Sholum Congregation before it stands at the “gate” to the steep neighborhood shown and described this week.  The reader may wish to compare Jean’s “After Gotterdaemerung” look into the I-5 trench at night from nearly the same prospect.  It is included two contributions below.

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COWEN'S UNIVERSITY PARK, "A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever." Keats

Having printed this week’s Pacific Northwest feature on Cowen Park already last week (the third and fourth features below), we offer here a page from developer Charles Cowen’s promotional booklet with the title we have used above – with Keats and the rest.  And we have also included here his map of both the park he had then freshly donated to the city and his addition, which he hoped to sell to its citizens lot by lot – and did.

We chose the page titled, “Some of the Reasons Why Cowen’s University Park is Such Desirable Property” for its sometimes amusing “reasons.”  The proposal that Seattle would reach a census population of 500,000 by 1910 was about two times too ambitious.  Still Cowen sold his lots.

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And the map.  In the booklet it is folded and attached to the back inside cover of the booklet.  The path of the stream may be a bit fanciful in its drawing, but it is probably close to the correct course the Green Lake outlet took on its way to Lake Washington’s Union Bay.  (We have “printed” this somewhat large so it may take a bit longer for some computers to load/show it.)

[click to enlarge]

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Seattle Now & Then: Good Shepherding

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Temporarily untended the Good Shepherd orchard awaits its fate, ca. 1978.
Temporarily untended the Good Shepherd orchard awaits its fate, ca. 1978.
The contemporary repeat was “adjusted” a few yards to the east to take advantage of this preseason practice by members of the Architects and Engineers Volleyball League.  A few of the old orchard’s trees survive along the park’s western border with Meridian Avenue, far right. Paul Dorpat
The contemporary repeat was “adjusted” a few yards to the east to take advantage of this preseason practice by members of the Architects and Engineers Volleyball League. A few of the old orchard’s trees survive along the park’s western border with Meridian Avenue, far right. Paul Dorpat

In 1941 several hundred women attended the Home of Good Shepherd’s annual open house for tea and a tour at the “summit” of Wallingford.  Among the attractions visited were the “well-stocked fruit rooms.”   Much of that fruit, of course, came from the institution’s own orchard, which here, with its gnarled trunks and matted grass, resembles a painting by Vincent Van Gough except that these trees – some of them – still bear apples in Wallingford and not olives in Saint-Remy.

The date for this wild portrait of a temporarily abandoned orchard falls between 1973, when the Home of the Good Shepherd closed and both its sisters and resident girls moved out, and 1981 when the Seattle Park Department turned the orchard into a playfield and park while saving some of the fruit trees.

It might have been used for retail. After closure the first inviting proposal for purchase came quickly to the sisters from a Los Angeles developer who wanted to rework the Good Shepherd campus into a shopping mall.  Concerned Wallingfordians – notably the Wallingford Community Council – just as quickly organized against this offer. For a mall, zoning would have needed to be changed, and the citizens made sure it was not.

The community council next successfully persuaded the city to use 1975 Forward Thrust funds to purchase the 11-acre campus.  A little more than half of it went to the Park Department.  Most of the rest became home for arts and culture non-profits with the non-park properties they used managed by Historic Seattle, the advocate of historic preservation. Urban agriculture – with Tilth and the Wallingford P-Patch – also continues to be part of the nourishing mix at home on the old Good Shepherd Campus.

The look east across the temporarily forsaken orchard towards the Good  Shepherd main campus building.  The photographer's back was to Meridian Avenue.
The look east across the temporarily forsaken orchard towards the Good Shepherd main campus building. The photographer's back was to Meridian Avenue. ca.1978.
An approximate repeat of the ca. 1978 prospect.
An approximate repeat of the ca. 1978 prospect.

Cowen Park Portal [This feature first appeared in Pacific Northwest Magazine on June 8, 2003.]

In 1909 the Eastlake Trolley up University Way reached the end of its line along the southern rim of Ravenna Park.  Where it turned towards 15th Avenue. N.E. it passed the rustic gate to the nearly new Cowen Park at Ravenna Boulevard.   The line of the original 15th Avenue pedestrian bridge across the ravine can be followed – barely - between the trolley car and the tall fir tree at the center of the scene.  (Historical photo courtesy of Clarence Brannman)
In 1909 the Eastlake Trolley up University Way reached the end of its line along the southern rim of Ravenna Park. Where it turned towards 15th Avenue. N.E. it passed the rustic gate to the nearly new Cowen Park at Ravenna Boulevard. The line of the original 15th Avenue pedestrian bridge across the ravine can be followed – barely - between the trolley car and the tall fir tree at the center of the scene. (Historical photo courtesy of Clarence Brannman)
The gate to the park and the bridge across it have both been rebuilt in stone and concrete.  This “now” repeat was recorded when a version of this story first appeared in The Sunday Times, June 8, 2003.
The gate to the park and the bridge across it have both been rebuilt in stone and concrete. This “now” repeat was recorded when a version of this story first appeared in The Sunday Times, June 8, 2003.

Rustic constructions were common features in Seattle’s first parks. The rough-hewed twists and textures of the region’s own materials gave these generally fanciful creations — pergolas, bandstands, benches, bridges, fences, portals — a feeling of having grown with the landscape. The original gateway to Cowen Park was a sizable example.

Cowen Park was given to the city by an English immigrant who stipulated that in return for the 12 acres a marker be placed commemorating his gift. Actually, Charles Cowen’s family name was Cohen not Cowen and their wealth was made largely from the diamond mines of South Africa. Coming to America on business for the family mines Charles decided to stay and soon changed his name.

The 41-year-old Cohen-Cowen arrived in Seattle in 1900 and purchased 40 acres of cleared but not yet platted land north of the University District. It was the part of these acres that bordered Ravenna Park, which he gave to the city with his namesake provision. The remaining flatter acres he platted and sold, generally prospering from them and his other Seattle investments.

Cowen also paid for the construction of the rustic gateway at the park’s southeast corner where University Way crosses Ravenna Boulevard. Within two years of his gift the city had cleared the park of its underbrush, built a shelter house and groomed the brook which ran from Green Lake through both Cowen and Ravenna parks on its often babbling way to Lake Washington’s Union Bay. When Green Lake was lowered seven feet in 1911 the creek’s primary source was cut off and its volume restricted to park springs and runoff alone. The creek’s old meandering way between Green Lake and the Cowen-Ravenna ravine was graded over and straightened as Ravenna Boulevard.

Most likely this photograph from the Asahel Curtis studio was recorded late in 1909. The number on the original negative falls near the end of the roughly 4556 studio numbers allotted that year. For Curtis it was a record year for picture taking, in part because the summer-long Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition was held in 1909 in a Seattle made photogenic for it. Although Curtis was not the fair’s official photographer, he and many other studios were able to exploit the fair thanks to both citizens and the exceptional surge of visitors who gathered their souvenirs while consuming Seattle.

Most of the greater University District was retouched for AYP including Cowen Park although obviously the hard surface paving on University Way did not make it as far north as the entrance to the park here at Ravenna Boulevard.

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Cowen Park's stone gate now. Years later in the early 1920s when the park's rustic arch began to deteriorate and the Park Department had still done nothing to commemorate his gift, Charles Cowen took the matter into his own hands and had the wooden gate replaced with two stone columns with wing-wall seats. Carved on the columns is a memorial that begins by simply stating the facts, "In memory of Charles Cowen who in 1906 gave to the city of Seattle the twelve acres comprising this park" but concludes with this sublime truism, "Man shall not live by bread alone."

Looking here beyond the woman standing with the child and through the original rustic gate it is clear that neither shall man leave the land alone. On the north side of the gate the park drops away into what in 1909 would for only two more years be a babbling ravine. Since the early 1960s it has been a more-or-less level playfield made from one hundred thousand yards of “free fill” scooped away during the creation nearby of the 1-5 Freeway. At the time, to quote from Don Sherwood’s hand-written history of Seattle parks, “Many residents and the Mountaineers Club were appalled.”

Still the fill has had its uses. The hip community’s first Human Be-in was held at Cowen Park in the spring of 1967. Later in August 1971 the Second Annual Frisbee for Peace Intergalactic Memorial Thermogleep U.F.O. Frisbee Festival was held on the settled playfield. However, a proposal from the event’s sponsors, the University District Center to make it an official Seafair event was rejected. At the time future historylink founder, Walt Crowley, directed the Center.

The Swings of Cowen Park

This rare glimpse of the rapid Ravenna Creek’s fall through Cowen Park was photographed not long before the stream that had had “topped off” Green Lake into Lake Washington’s Union Bay for thousands of years was shut off in 1911.  (Photo courtesy of Jim Westall)
This rare glimpse of the rapid Ravenna Creek’s fall through Cowen Park was photographed not long before the stream that had “topped off” Green Lake into Lake Washington’s Union Bay for thousands of years was shut off in 1911. (Photo courtesy of Jim Westall)
The emphasis on this “repeat” is on the swings more than the place.  Much of the Cowen Park ravine was developed into a playfield with dirt borrowed from the Interstate-5 construction in the 1960s.  The site of the historical playground by the creek is now covered with it.  (by Paul Dorpat)
The emphasis on this “repeat” is on the swings more than the place. Much of the Cowen Park ravine was developed into a playfield with dirt borrowed from the Interstate-5 construction in the 1960s. The site of the historical playground by the creek is now covered with it. (by Paul Dorpat)

Here on a sunny winter day a young family, most likely from the neighborhood, visits the swings of Cowen Park. Judging from the long shadows and the direction of the flow in the vigorous Ravenna Creek it is an afternoon outing. While several photographs of the creek’s passage through Ravenna Park survive, this is only the second example I can recall of it flowing through Cowen Park.

Its namesake developer Charles Cowen donated the park to the city in 1906 in part to help sell lots in his University Park addition.  All but three of its 14 blocks border the park to the north.

Among the “desirable” reason’s Cowen named for buying a lot were “pure atmosphere, moral environment, proximity to the University – the literary atmosphere will be the best in the world – and no objectionable noises or sights to contend with.”   Except for the overhead flight path to SeaTac, the trucks on 12th and 15th Avenues Northeast, and television in every home, this is still largely true.

Like all the scenes in the family album from which this one was copied, the date is sometime between 1908 and 191l, but not deep into 1911 for that spring the level of Green Lake, the source of Ravenna Creek, was dropped seven feet. The loss of both the lake’s original shoreline and the natural outflow of its creek to Lake Washington’s Union Bay were controversial at that time and are still annoying at this time.   After the 1911 lowering the only babbling in the Cowen-Ravenna ravine was from a few springs and run-off.

Seattle Now & Then: Pier 70 from the Bay

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THEN: Pier 70 when it was still Pier 14, ca. 1901, brand new but not yet "polished."  Courtesy, Lawton Gowey
THEN: Pier 70 when it was still Pier 14, ca. 1901, brand new but not yet "polished." Courtesy, Lawton Gowey
The same pier at the foot of Broad Street a few years after its 1999 remodel for the short-lived tenancy of Go2Net, one of the many local internet providers that faltered in the new millennium.  (dorpat this time)
NOW: The same pier at the foot of Broad Street a few years after its 1999 remodel for the short-lived tenancy of Go2Net, one of the many local internet providers that faltered in the new millennium. (Dorpat this time)

It is very rare for this little weekly feature to get its present before its past, and yet for this comparison I photographed the “now” view of the water end of Pier 70 before I found the “then.”  Aboard an Argosy tour boat I prudently recorded everything along the waterfront.  That was in 2006 – about.  A sign for the law firm Graham and Dunn, the pier’s principal tenant since 2003, shares the west wall with the pier number.  Although it is not a perfect match with the “then,” it will do for studying the latest remodel of this big wharf at the foot of Broad Street.

Constructed in 1901-2 for the salmon packers Ainsworth and Dunn, at 570 x 175 feet it was the first large pier at the north end of the waterfront. Here nearly new, it seems still in need of paint and shows no signs of signs and few of work.  On the left, Broad Street makes a steep climb to what is now Seattle Center. The northern slope of Denny Hill draws the horizon on the right.  (It is still several years before that hill was razed for the regrade.)

Besides Salmon, through its first 70 years Pier 70 was the Puget Sound port for several steamship companies including the English Blue Funnel and the German Hamburg American lines.  Among the imports handled here were cotton, tea, rubber, liquor (It was a warehouse for the state’s Liquor Control Board during Word War 2.) and soybeans.  The beans were processed across Alaska Way from Pier 70 in what is now the Old Spaghetti Works, although not for a nutritious gluten free noodle but for glue used in the making of plywood.

Joining the general central waterfront tide from work to play, Pier 70 was converted to retail in 1970.  Still far from the central waterfront, it was no immediate success.  There was then no waterfront trolley, no Sculpture Garden, and, next door, no new Port of Seattle.  By now both the Belltown and Seattle Center neighborhoods above the pier are piling high with condo constructions and conversions and the waterfront foot of Broad is quite lively.

WEB EXTRA

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Until the numbers were changed by the military along the entire shoreline of Elliott Bay during World War Two, Pier 70 was numbered Pier 14 – as we see it here, again from off-shore.  The roofline of some structures on the horizon are the same as those that appear in the earlier scene.  The signs that faced shipping broadcast names that were long familiar ones for Pier 14/70 – Ainsworth and Dunn (barely readable at the top of this west facade), the Blue Funnel Line, and the Dodwell Dock and Warehouse Company.

Many of these names appear also on the Railroad Avenue side of Pier 70 in this view of it sent this way by Ron Edge, who appears in this blog not infrequently as a contributor, often with a “button” we have named “Edge Clippings.”

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Seattle Now & Then: HOO-HOO and the HBC

THEN: Above Lake Washington’s Union Bay the Hoo-Hoo Building on the left and the Bastion facsimile on the right, were both regional departures from the classical beau arts style, the 1909 AYPE’s architectural commonplace. Courtesy John Cooper
THEN: Above Lake Washington’s Union Bay the Hoo-Hoo Building on the left and the Bastion facsimile on the right, were both regional departures from the classical beau arts style, the 1909 AYPE’s architectural commonplace. Courtesy John Cooper
NOW: The historical photograph was taken from the Forestry Building, one of the Expo’s grander and taller structures.  Later the HUB, or Student Union Building, took its place.  From a third floor back window of the HUB a screen of trees blocks the view of the University Club.  Designed by Victor Steinbrueck and Paul Hayden Kirk, it took the place of the Hoo-Hoo House, which until is was razed in 1959 also served as a faculty retreat.  (now by Paul Dorpat)
NOW: The historical photograph was taken from the Forestry Building, one of the Expo’s grander and taller structures. Later the HUB, or Student Union Building, took its place. From a third floor back window of the HUB a screen of trees blocks the view of the University Club. Designed by Victor Steinbrueck and Paul Hayden Kirk, it took the place of the Hoo-Hoo House, which until is was razed in 1959 also served as a faculty retreat. (now by Paul Dorpat)

Certainly the local enthusiasm directed to this year’s centennial celebration for Seattle’s “first world’s fair,” the Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition, exceeds that demonstrated for Seattle’s 150th anniversary: its sesquicentennial of only a few years past.  The exhibits, web sites, and publications interpreting AYP are a big basket, and it is filling.

An early example is enthusiast-collector-scholar Dan Kerlee’s site aype.com.  Dan also gave generous help toward the publishing of historylink’s “timeline history” of the AYPE.  Vintage Seattle is another community website that is attending this centennial.  Visit www.vintageseattle.org/2008/05/28/hoo-are-you-hoo-hoo and you will discover undated snapshots of the AYP’s Hoo-Hoo building – here on the left – when it was still used by the University of Washington’s Faculty Club.

Ellsworth Storey, the northwest architect admired for his variations on the Craftsman style, designed it for the Hoo-Hoos, not a club for retired Santas but a lumbermen’s fraternity, which used it throughout the fair for banquets and parties in which their love for cats and the number 9 always played some part.  Nine house cats helped run the place, curling up at night on any piece of mission-style furniture they preferred.  Sculpted black cats with electric green eyes met visitors near the front door.

The more rustic structure on the right was a facsimile of the Hudson Bay Company’s blockhouse at Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.  In 1909 the original was a mere 56 years old and a century later it survives as one of the oldest buildings in British Columbia.  The AYP facsimile was commissioned by and served as fair headquarters for the Vancouver B.C. Daily World newspaper.

The Block House replica in this view of it includes an sizable native wood sculpture on the front lawn that does not appear in the main image shown near the top.   This view also shows one more front lawn canon.
The Block House replica in this view includes a sizable native wood sculpture on the front lawn that does not appear in the main image shown near the top. This view also shows one more front lawn canon.
The tails of the HooHoo's black cats are fairly evident in this recording of the building's front facade.
The tails of the HooHoo's black cats are fairly evident in this recording of the building's front facade.

Seattle Now & Then: Military Discipline at the AYPE

THEN: When the Oregon Cadets raised their tents on the Denny Hall lawn in 1909 they were almost venerable.  Founded in 1873, the Cadets survive today as Oregon State University’s ROTC. Geneticist Linus C. Pauling, twice Nobel laureate, is surely the school’s most famous cadet corporal.  (courtesy, University of Washington Libraries)
THEN: When the Oregon Cadets raised their tents on the Denny Hall lawn in 1909 they were almost venerable. Founded in 1873, the Cadets survive today as Oregon State University’s ROTC. Geneticist Linus C. Pauling, twice Nobel laureate, is surely the school’s most famous cadet corporal. (courtesy, University of Washington Libraries)
NOW: I used old maps and current satellite photographs to determine that the historical view was photographed from Lewis Hall or very near it.  Jean Sherrard was busy directing another play for his students at Hillside School in Bellevue, so in lieu of Jean and his “ten-footer” I used my four-foot monopod to hold the camera high above my head but not as high.
NOW: I used old maps and current satellite photographs to determine that the historical view was photographed from Lewis Hall or very near it. Jean Sherrard was busy directing another play for his students at Hillside School in Bellevue, so in lieu of Jean and his “ten-footer” I used my four-foot monopod to hold the camera high above my head but not as high.

The Alaska Yukon and Pacific Exposition’s official photographer, Frank H. Nowell, was not the only commercial camera working the fair grounds and – in this week’s subject – its perimeter.  Here with the useful caption “O.A.C. Cadets in camp – A.Y.P. Expo. – Seattle June 5th 9 – 09” the unidentified photographer has named the part of her or his subject that might pay for the effort of recording it: the cadets themselves.

The Oregon Agricultural College Cadets’ tents have been pitched just outside the fair grounds in the wide lawn northeast of the Administration Building, the first building raised on the new “Interlaken campus” in 1894-95.  In 1909 it was still one year short of being renamed Denny Hall.

Thanks now to Jennifer Ott who helped research historylink’s new “timeline history” of the AYPE.  I asked Jennifer if she had come upon any description of the part played in the Exposition by what Paula Becker, our go-between and one of the authors of the timeline, capsulated for us as “those farmin’ Oregon boys.”   Ott thought it likely that the cadets participated in the “military athletic tournament” which was underway on June 5, the date in our caption.   Perhaps with this camp on the Denny lawn they were also at practice, for one of the tournament’s exhibitions featured “shelter camp pitching.”

Jennifer Ott also pulled “a great quote” from the Seattle Times, for June 12.  It is titled “Hostile Cadets in Adjoining Camps,” and features the Washington and Idaho cadets, but not Oregon’s.  Between the Idaho and Washington camps the “strictest picket duty was maintained and no one was admitted until word was sent to the colonel in command, who was nowhere to be found. This meant that no one was admitted, except the fair sex, the guards having been instructed to admit women and girls without passes from the absent colonel.”  And that is discipline!

WEB-ONLY EXTRAS

LEWIS AND CLARK HALLS

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THEN: Looking back at Lewis Hall on the left and Clark Hall on the right, from Denny Hall ca. 1902. Seattle Architects Timotheus Josenhans and Norris Allan had a modest $50,000 available to design and construct the first two dormitories on the UW campus. To quote form Charles Gates’ book, The First Century of the University of Washington, they were built “as ornate as possible for the sum expended.” Little has been altered on the exterior of Lewis Hall, although the inside has been remodeled several times since its 1899 construction. And the men’s bedrooms have long ago been replaced by offices, most recently (or in 2002 when this was first written) for doctoral students of the School of Business Administration.
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The first buildings on the new campus artfully arranged in an early 20th Century tour book montage. All of them have survived and are in use. At the top is the Administration building, AKA the Main Building, which was later renamed for pioneer Arthur Denny. At the bottom are, left to right, the Clark and Lewis dormitories. The Science Building, right of center, was renamed Parrington Hall for a celebrated University English professor. The remaining scene is an impression of the University District as seen from Campus. At the time the neighborhood was still more often called either Brooklyn, the name its developers gave to it, or University Station, a sign of the Trolley’s importance to the still remote campus and its neighbors.
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Lewis Hall now
Clark Hall today
Clark Hall today

When the University of Washington’s first dormitories on the new campus were constructed in 1899, they were arranged to give students inspiring views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains.  Most of the university presidents that UW president Frank Graves canvassed for recommendations on dormitories advised against them, usually on the grounds of hormones.. They would be hard to control.  A minority, however, saw the spiritual side of students staying on campus.  Because students had to endure long and overcrowded trolley rides between the school and the city, there was  – both students and regents agreed – “a remarkable lack of college spirit.”

Graves estimated that in 1899 there were, at most, accommodations for 30 students in the homes of Brooklyn (the name then for the U District).  Graves’ hopes that neighborhood churches might set up dorms came to nothing.  Truth was, Brooklyn had more cows than citizens, and their free-ranging habits were so annoying that the school fenced the campus with barbed wire.  When the students moved into their new Lewis (for men) and Clark (for women) halls in January 1900, they had their own cows corralled behind the dorms.  The 130 men and women shared a dining room – and the milk – in the basement of the women’s dorm.

The president advised his married faculty to follow his example and invite students home so they might “ become acquainted with good homes and learn the usages of the best society.” But when Graves made an unannounced inspection of the women’s dorm while investigating charges of lax discipline, he found their rooms generally “unkempt.”  The coeds responded by marching around campus and singing a parody of their president to the tune of “We Kept the Pig in the Parlor.”

Seattle Now & Then: A Little Snow

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Werner Lenggenhager recorded the tracery of the Pacific Science Center’s Gothic arches through the promenade that leads to them, marked by the snow of Nov. 19, 1978. (Courtesy Seattle Public Library)
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Holding my little camera high I took this snapshot repeat of Lenggenhager’s romantic snowscape at this year’s crowded & hot Folklife Festival.
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Jack Hansen far left, ca. 1970
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Stan James at the 2004 Folklife Festival

Werner Lenggenhager, Seattle’s splendidly active post-war photographer of streets and landmarks, whom I have used in this feature several times, recorded the historical Seattle Center scene during the ‘little snow” of November 19, 1978.  I took the “now” while wandering through the generally happy press of humanity at Folklife this past Sunday May 24.  It felt like the first nearly hot day of 2009.

I had just left helping MC a Folklife tribute to a friend, the Seattle folk artist Stan James, who died last October. Since Stan’s survivors both loved him and like to sing together, it was the third wake or tribute for Stan many of us had attended. Soon after gently pushing through the press of “folkies’ I learned that only hours earlier another old friend and musician had died.  The day before at Folklife Jack Hansen led another sing along as a member of The Seatles, “Seattle’s Premier Fab-4 Sing-Along Band.”  It was the last “gig” of a creative life that I remember well already in the mid-60s when Jack played lead guitar in the blues and psychedelic band Fat Jack, a name Jack later shed.

Jack Hansen could play and teach anything: blues, jazz, folk, Hawaiian, strait rock, and again psychedelic.  Stan James kept to singing folk music with his wonderful baritone (or second tenor, for he had range) and creating “folk opportunities,” beginning in the early 60s with the Corroboree, one of the area’s first espresso cafes with live music – folk music.  He performed at Century 21 in 1962 and after that his contributions go on and on.

Both Jack and Stan were also known for their humor and story telling.  Although neither died young, they still passed too early. They played for the forces of happiness.

Seattle Now & Then: The Mount Vernon Ferry

(As ever, click on photos to enlarge)

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THEN: In a 1884 election Mt. Vernon surprised La Conner by winning the Skagit County seat. Here, ca. 1890, Mt. Vernon has besides its 800 citizens and one ferry, great prospects. (Photo courtesy Skagit County Historical Museum’s Research Library.)
NOW: At the time Jean Sherrard recorded this repeat of the ferry photo in 2006, Mt. Vernon was preparing a comprehensive plan for its historic downtown that included an appointed promenade along its waterfront.  You may wish to see how this county seat with by now nearly 30,000 citizens is doing by visiting Mt. Vernon’s Saturday Farmers Market along the revetment.
NOW: At the time Jean Sherrard recorded this repeat of the ferry photo in 2006, Mt. Vernon was preparing a comprehensive plan for its historic downtown that included an appointed promenade along its waterfront. You may wish to see how this county seat with by now nearly 30,000 citizens is doing by visiting Mt. Vernon’s Saturday Farmers Market along the revetment.

We would imagine that it was Gilbert LaBerge and/or Fred Barnier who arranged for their Mount Vernon ferry to be photographed with the burgeoning Skagit County Seat on the far shore, except that one of them is cut off at the knees – either Gilbert or Fred.  The ferry proprietors are both listed in the 1889-90 Washington State Gazetteer as are all the Mt. Vernon hotels whose signs may be read on the far shore – three of them.

The original photo in the Skagit Valley Historical Society’s research library has a caption scrawled on the border: “Mt. Vernon before the fire of 1891.”   The fire destroyed most of the business district shown here and so a new commercial strip was built two blocks to the east, or further from the river.  With the arrival also that year of the Seattle and Northern Railroad, the Skagit River and its steamers got competition in moving the valley’s produce, lumber and citizens to markets.

Two years later in 1893 the first bridge across the river – a wooden truss with a draw span – was built here.  Although more convenient, the bridge was still not much faster than the ferry.  Signs on either side warned, “$25 fine for riding or driving over this bridge faster than a walk.”

The 1889-90 Gazetteer includes an impressive list of Mount Vernon concerns, including two banks, four churches, a skating rink, two music teachers, a cornet band, a sawmill, stores for all the necessities and a few luxuries like jewelry and a billiard hall.

In 1890 the Skagit News (also a book store and job printer) was already six years old and today’s Skagit Valley Herald is its descendent.  (For a great illustrated horde of  “Northwest Corner” history just visit yet another publication, the skagitriverjournal.)

WEB-ONLY EXTRAS

Let’s begin with Jean’s eerie/lovely view from the bridge, just a little bon-bon for all you Mount Vernon lovers.

Evening on the Skagit
Evening on the Skagit

And now, more of the historical:

The Black Prince at Mt. Vernon
The Black Prince at Mt. Vernon

Of the three sternwheelers pointing upstream on the Skagit River at Mt. Vernon, the middle one, the Black Prince, can be identified by its nameplate.  A quick survey of citations in the McCurdy Maritime History for Puget Sound reveals that this 92 foot long freight and passenger steamer was built in Everett in 1901 by Robert Houston for service on both the Skagit and Snohomish Rivers.  Beginning in 1923 it was kept around the Everett harbor for use in towing, and then oddly stayed in Everett after it was dismantled in 1936.  The upperworks were carried off by the Everett Yacht Club for a clubhouse until 1956 when the members wanted something new.  What parts of the Black Prince club members did not carry home for souvenirs became kindling, perhaps, for a Port Gardner incinerator.

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Mt. Vernon from the hill
Then: Mount Vernon pan from bridge
Then: Mount Vernon pan from bridge
Now
Now

The bend in the river seen from the hill is the same as that seen from the bridge in the panoramas – then and now – of Mt. Vernon’s waterfront.  It is our speculation – waiting for correction by some Skagit River historian (Noel?) – that this view was taken from a point that now would be suspended over the I-5 Freeway that passes between the business district and the residential hill to the east.  By these impressions the timber trestle is where South Second Street still rises from the business district, although now on a concrete span over the freeway.   And so our hunch also has it that the street on the far left is South Third Street.  (Noel? We mean, of course, Noel Bourasaw founder and nurturer of the on-line publication, the skagitriverjournal.)

(If the Then and Now images directly above seem familiar, you may be the proud owner of the Dorpat/Sherrard tome Washington Then and Now.)

The Skagit County Courthouse
The Skagit County Courthouse
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Now, the Matheson Building

Built in 1892-93 at Mt. Vernon’s First and Pine, southeast corner, the old Skagit County Courthouse survives there as the Matheson Building, but without its playful top story.

Second Street
Second Street then
Looking north now
Looking north now

Mount Vernon, Second Street and looking north to the trestle that figures in the earlier “Mt. Vernon from the Hill” photo, included with this posting.  Judging from the motorcars, this view dates from circa 1920 (some car-sensitive reader can probably nail the date), while the “hill” picture is from about 1900.  Note that the wooden John Deere building on the left remains today, although obscured by trees.

Skagit River ferry
Skagit River ferry

Before the bridges, and even after them at some crossings, ferries like this one on the Skagit, were ready for a fee to take one and much more to the other side.