The Orpheum Automobile Hotel was the cause for our reacquaintance a few years ago. Do you remember? You sent me off to Eric Lange at the Bellevue archives where I discovered this beautiful (and now digitally cleaned up) 1937 King County WPA survey photo. I spent considerable time walking the site and offer here the gorgeous original and my 2007 shot, taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995. The mosaic brickwork on the facade is just visible, peeking out from under the metal screens, if you’re looking for it. If I recall correctly, the stone facing around the driveway openings is gone, a victim of the same remodel. I can almost imagine men in tails and women in furs, pulling up to a waiting valet attendant in bow tie and white gloves, before crossing the street for a concert at the Orpheum. Maybe one day I’ll return with my 4×5 on a sunny winter Sunday for a serious attempt. The WPA photographer who took the survey photo was a real artist.

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