In today’s “now” scene, West Seattle’s savvy Bob Carney poses for Jean Sherrard on Point Place Southwest, a short block that leads from Alki Avenue Southwest and dead-ends at the green campus of the Alki Point Lighthouse. Its light first penetrated the ordinarily peaceable waters of Puget Sound in 1913 after the federal lighthouse service bought much of the Point from the Hanson-Olson clan who had purchased it in 1868 from Seattle pioneer Doc Maynard.
In his hands, Carney holds a copy of our “then” photo as part of bound pages of his research into the life of the first Alki Natatorium, the landmark featured in the photo. (Derived from Latin, “natatorium” denotes a building that houses a swimming pool. Aficionados abbreviate it as “nat.”)
Years ago, while delivering an admittedly half-baked lecture on West Seattle history to its historical society, I was asked if I had evidence of this early human aquarium. Like many others attending, I imagined that the question was about the later Alki Natatorium, built nearly a mile up Alki Beach from the Point, just east of the Alki Bathhouse, and opened in 1934 with “Seattle’s own swimming champion, Helene Madison, as permanent instructress.” Bob
Carney’s research reveals that the earlier and largely forgotten natatorium at the Point was equipped with “gymnasium paraphernalia” and featured a “bathing tank” 130 feet long, 53 feet wide and from 22 inches to 9-1/2 feet deep, filled daily with Puget Sound waters kept at 74 to 76 degrees. The east end of pavilion, the part showing here with five gables hosted a variety events, most involving dance. The structure was appointed like a Japanese
teahouse – note the hanging lanterns – and its demise was equally exotic. Like the dome atop Seattle’s St. James Cathedral on First Hill, the roof on West Seattle’s first oversized swimming pool collapsed Feb. 1-2, 1916, under what remains Seattle’s deepest (or second deepest – it is debated) 24-hour snowfall.
Soon after Bob showed me this print, researcher Ron Edge found five others (all of them already inserted above) while visiting the Museum of History and Industry library to help make detailed scans of many of its classics. Most likely, all were recorded together in 1905 when the nat was a brand new enterprise undertaken by the Alki Point Transportation Company. Nearly a decade before the Alki Lighthouse arose, in 1904 the company had built both the natatorium and the steamer Dix to render hourly service between this, the firm’s new West Seattle attraction, and Seattle’s central waterfront. (The Dix notoriously sank in November 1906 in a collision killing more than 40 of its estimated 77 passengers.)
We conclude with a too-short nod to the many heroes of local heritage who volunteer with the dozen or so Seattle and King County societies that nurture and share our history. Using our example, Bob Carney is described by Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, as “a stalwart volunteer for us over the past three decades, doing everything from serving on our collections committee (evaluating submitted artifacts for possible accession) to putting up exhibits at our Log House Museum. Behind it all is a heart of unrivaled size.”
Another few laps, lads? Jean, Ron and I are pleased to exersize with you. Below are a line-up of West Seattle features previously printed Pacific and so shown here, some of them recently. We will also insert a few relevant others.
Two mildly eccentric signs can be found on this photograph of the southwest corner of 9th Avenue and Columbia Street on Seattle’s First Hill. Hand-written on the grass, the more obvious sign is mistakenly captioned “727 – 9th Ave.” The corner is held now by a roundabout to the front door of the nearly new Skyline Retirement Community at 725 9th Avenue. The “then” is another of the many thousands of tax photos taken during the Great Depression for the King County Assessor’s office by skilled photographers working for the federal Works Progress Administration. The WPA was one of the many “alphabet soup” agencies created by President Roosevelt and his progressive cabinet to make both public works and work: works such this photographic inventory of every structure in the county, and work – with pay checks – for many including the photographers. This archive is still used by county assessors and homeowners, as well as historians.
The second sign is harder to find. It is nailed to the side of this mansion that somewhat resembles a Greek Temple. The sign appears above the second floor porch near the iron ladder, which served as a fire escape. Reading “The Sunset Board Room,” this second sign was, we expect, wrapped in wit by the Sunset’s manager, the progressive Emma A. Hausman. Above her portrait that appeared in The Times for March 3, 1918, Hausman was described as “one of the most prominent club women in the city.” Also in 1918 she
was chosen to direct the work of the local Democratic Club, and a year earlier she had been elected chairman of The Women’s Civic Improvement Club’s Auxiliary to the Seattle Red Cross. The Sunset’s classified ads in The Times were often personalized with Hausman’s name, as for the second of June, 1917: “Mrs. Hausman has one large room, suitable for man and wife, 2 business men or young ladies. First class in every particular 721 9th Ave.” Through its about sixty-six years on this corner the big home was listed at 721.
Actually, manager Hausman had many more rooms than one to rent in the Sunset. According to the 1937 tax record, this neo-classical mansion included twenty-seven rooms: seven on the first floor and eight on the second, all with nine-foot ceilings. And there were seven more rooms in the attic and five more in the daylight basement. The Times reports that its first owners, the Archibald Blackburn Graham family, moved in on April 6, 1901. The Seattle Times for December 22, 1900, counted the Graham’s new home among the “handsome new residences of substantial quality completed within the year.” It cost $15,000, the same price that The Times publisher A. J. Blethen paid for his also manor-sized new home on Queen Anne Hill’s Highland Drive, also in 1900.
Archibald Graham was an arch-capitalist, described in pioneer historian Clarence Bagley’s “History of Seattle” (1916) as “a man of resourceful business ability who recognized the difficulties, the possibilities and the opportunities of a situation.” Graham was a charmed opportunist, whose lucrative successes included, to name a
few, flour milling (including the Novelty Mill in West Seattle), mining, lumber, and printing. Graham also developed new neighborhoods in Seattle, the booming and beckoning West Coast city that the 39-year-old speculator moved to from West Virginia with his
growing family in 1891. Jewelry was his last enterprise, and many jewels were found neatly packaged in his pockets after he fell one hundred feet to his death on May Day 1915, from the recently completed steel bridge over Ravenna Park. The police found no “foul play.” No doubt hoping to deflect suicide speculations, Archibald’s puzzled friends noted to a Times reporter that he had left his home happy that morning and had “no financial troubles.” What made him leap, they concluded, was some combination of acute insomnia and recurring agoraphobia. One friend was quoted “It was the involuntary act of a man overcome by the influences of high places.”
A year later Graham’s family moved from their First Hill mansion into the upscale Olympian Apartments at 1605 E. Madison. It is reported in The Seattle Times of July 30, 1916, “Mrs. Emma Hausman has taken Mrs. Graham’s residence on the corner of 9th and Columbia and will open … a first-class boarding house for particular people.” Emma Hausman and Jennie Graham knew each other from years of playing cards together. And so it seems that the sale of the Graham mansion to Emma Hausman may have had a sisterly side to it.
Anything to add, lads? Natch, beginning with 30-plus past features from the neighborhood gathered and placed by Ron Edge. We call the Edge Links.
The recently formed Pike Place Market Historical Society was born with what I suspect is an exclusive irony attached to it. While it is the youngest of enthused locals focused on Seattle heritage, it may also be the most mature. The accumulated knowledge of its membership is both stunning and accessible. The charms of the Market have also nurtured its own historians. What follows comes in part from the PPMHS and its members. Bless it and them. (Please visit the blog listed at the bottom to learn more about the Society and what it knows about this covered curve.)
Had he lived long enough, I am confident that Frank Shaw, the photographer the of today’s featured photo, would have become a member of the Society. Shaw’s attraction to the Market is professed in the scores of large-sized negatives and transparencies he recorded there. The about-to-retire Boeing employee began visiting the Market with his Hasselblad in the early 1960s, just in time to record those politically important years when the well-funded forces campaigning for urban renewal wrestled with the citizen-volunteers fighting for the Market’s repairs and preservation.
On its cardboard border, Shaw dated this colored portrait of the only curve on Post Alley May 1, 1966. It was a Sunday morning a mere half-century ago. Market explorers will know that this is where Post Alley, heading for the Market, turns for its one short block climb to the intersection of First Avenue and Pike Place. Of
the many entrances into the Market, I expect this is the one least used, but also the most charming. It is also the most gate-like and therefore potentially ceremonial for staging events like the Tiny Freeman presided Soap Box Derbies on Post Alley in the early 1970s. Shaw’s shabby alley surely prefigures the internationally known “Gum Wall,” here with its profane patina of donated wads.
Two feature films (and perhaps several smaller ones) have used the curve for art: “Mad Love” (1995), in which the film’s leads share their first date at a punk show here in the alley, and the better known “Cinderella Liberty” (1973), where the curve and its entrance to Seattle’s first municipal rest room (1908) were converted into a burlesque theatre for the James Caan vehicle. It was also just off this curve that Seattle’s well loved Empty Space Theatre got its start in 1970. It was followed by Stage One, where, we must note, in 1972 the tall but mere 15-year-old Jean Sherrard, this feature’s “now” photographer, played the part of Laertes, the brother of Ophelia, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Jean notes, “There were rarely more people in the audience than in the cast.”
I’ll toss in a couple gum wall shots for those who haven’t visited: Anything to add guys?
Surely Jean and thanks for gum blog sticking below, Jean. Ron Edge has also added a few relevant neighborhood features below the below and at the bottom.
In a note scribbled on the 1937 tax card for this modest block, it is named the “triangle.” Bordered by Pine Street, 5th Avenue, and Westlake Avenue, it is really one of about a dozen triangles attached to Westlake Avenue through its seven-block run between Fourth Avenue and Denny Way. The triangles, and about seven more irregularly-shaped blocks, date from 1906-07 when Westlake Avenue was cut through the original city grid. Thiseccentric
regrade was meant to channel the increasing traffic to Denny Way, there to continue north through the “funnel,” as the South Lake Union retail neighborhood was then sometimes called, to the picturesque viaduct built in 1890 for pedestrians, wagons and trolleys along the west shore of Lake Union all the way to Fremont.
The featured photo at the top is one of three Webster and Stevens Studio photographs of the original charmingflatiron with its waving cornice. It sights north over Pine Street along the east side of Westlake. Another of the three photos is printed directly below. It looks in the opposite direction, and shows the same single motorcar parked on Westlake (perhaps the photographer’s) and the produce stand with its fruit and customers protected by an awning opened over the sidewalk. The Pearl Oyster and Chop House is the
next storefront south of the produce stand. Taped to it windows are more than one poster promoting the week-long visit to the Metropolitan Theatre, beginning Monday January 7, of the Shakespearean troupe led by the “eminent” Shakespearian John E. Kellerd. It is by this bit of advertising that we can easily figure that the three photos were taken sometime either in late 1917 or early 1918. Frankly, this discovery saddened me because I prefer this little triangle with its curvilinear cresting and large basket-handle windows to its several successors, the first of which is shown on the tax photo printed above, three images back or above . (The third of the three Webster and Stevens photos follows, all are used courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI.)
An 1891 Birdseye and Three Maps – 1893, 1908 & 1912 – of Location
In the 1908 Baist Real Estate map [two illustrations up] only a small wooden shed is foot-printed in the triangle block, bottom-center. By four years later, in the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map, the block has been tightly fitted for the little retail center captured at the top of this feature. Through its few years it was also home for the Seattle station of the Everett Interurban, which started running in 1910.
Sometime in 1918 this attractive triangle was razed and replaced with a three-story structure that bordered the block with a foundation sturdy enough to support a twelve-story high-rise that was never constructed. Through its more than half-century of service and two remodels (the tax card tells us in 1949 and 1959),
the three-story triangle serviced many retailers. The tax-photo (two above) illustrating the last of these changes reveals a nearly windowless brick mass impressively filling the block with “Weisfield’s Credit Jewelers” signed in big neon letters on its south façade facing Pine Street. (I remember this and I suspect many of you do as well.)
Judging by the tenants’ advertisements sample above and published in this paper through the first weeks of 1919, the quickly-built three-story replacement was completed sometime in late 1918. Among the first tenants were The Silk Shop, Violet Tatus’ New Hat Shop and the New Owl Drug Company. The building was named the Silverstone
after Jay C. Silverstone, a Kansas City native who moved to Seattle with his family to found the Boston Drug Company. Silverstone became a super-promoter for properties in this nearly new retail neighborhood. When he added the little flatiron to his neighborhood holdings, the headline for the Seattle Times for Sept. 2, 1917, read “New Retail /District Sets Record Price for Seattle Realty.” Silverstone and his brother Hiram, a physician practicing in Kansas City, purchased the block from Seattle architect John Graham, paying “$56 Per Square Foot for the Westlake Triangle,” which figured to $250,000, most of it in cash.
BELOW: TWO STRESSFUL SILVERSTONE CLIPS from the TIMES
Anything to add, lads? Surely Jean. As is his way, Ron Edge has pulled up several neighborhood shots and stacked them below. Held in each are more, some of which will be repeated many times through the selection. Which is our way.
ALSO NEARBY (Chapter – or feature – NO. 20 from Seattle Now and Then Volume One, which can be read from cover to cover on this blog, and it found in the front page bug ”
We might wonder what the photographer, F. Jay (“the Professor”) Haynes, found captivating in this long stretch of the Seattle waterfront. It reaches from a small sample of the Magnolia Peninsula on the far left to the outer end of the famous namesake wharf that the pioneer Henry Yesler rebuilt after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, which destroyed it and practically everything
else on Seattle’s central waterfront. Although difficult to read, both at this size and in the subject’s morning light, the shed/warehouse seen on the far right (of the featured photo at the top) has Yesler’s name printed on its west wall facing Elliot Bay. We will insert here another look at the water end of Yesler’s Wharf most likely photographed in 1890-1. The wharf is left-of-center, and the block-lettered name is the same and easier to read, especially if your click-to-enlarge the pan and all else.
We imagine that there may have also been a sensitive side to Haynes’ choice – an aesthetic motivation. The vessel near the featured scene’s center, which atypically reveals no name on its stern, marks a striking divide between the intimate waterfront congestion of barrels and half-covered bricks on this side of Yesler’s dock, far right, and to the left of the steamship, the long and somewhat mottled urban growth that was then North Seattle. Belltown’s gray dapple on Denny Hill’s western slope, left of center, is composed almost entirely of improvised and rent-free squatters’ vernacular sheds, both on the hill and on the beach.
Haynes’ subject might also have been assigned. Born in Michigan in 1853, the year Seattle’s mid-western founders moved from Alki Point to this east shore of Elliott Bay, Haynes missed the Civil War but not an apprenticeship with Doctor William H. Lockwood’s Temple of Photography in Ripon (‘Birthplace of the Republican Party’), Wisconsin. In the Temple he learn his trade and met Lily Snyder, his co-worker and future wife. Together, they purchased from the Northern Pacific Railroad a Pullman car, which they fitted for a photography studio. In exchange for publicity photographs of the railroad’s expansion and rolling stock, the couple – while raising a family – traveled the greater Northwest, prospering with their own rolling dark room and sales gallery. To his status as the Northern Pacific’s official photographer, Haynes added the same distinction for Yellowstone National Park, where he has a mountain named for him.
Dating this (at the top) visit by Haynes to Puget Sound has left me with an ‘about’ year of circa 1891, two years following the Great Fire. By obscuring the center of the Denny Hotel on Denny Hill, the steamship’s smokestack also hides the hotel’s tower, the last part of the hotel built, and thereby a perhaps helpful clue toward a more refined date. Finally, with the help of an array of historical photos, Ron Edge, a devotee of Seattle history, has determined that the resting steamship here is the City of Kingston and not, as I first thought, its younger sister, the City of Seattle. Ron discovered that there were small differences between them, especially at the stern on the railing for the lower deck. The City of Seattle had a railing.
Jean: We had help along the way on taking this photo… Thanks to Laura Newborn from the State DOT for making the connections and Marty Martin, Facilities Manager, for accompanying me onto the decaying Pier 48.
Paul: Jean, strip it, the pier, is of its clues. Do you remember – and did you attend – any of the big Book Fairs that used Pier 48 sometime in 1990s?
Jean: I did not attend, though I vaguely remember.
Anything to add, fellow travelers? This week like the last 200 or more we’ll pile on a few more features to the Edge Links that Ron put up. But first a copy of the montage that we used to figure out and describe for Laura and Marty the prospect on Pier 48 that we calculated was the correct one for a proper repeat. The red arrow marks the spot. You may wish to notice the range of freedom Jean has used for his art.
The designers and/or carpenters of this slender house may have taken care to give its front porch a stairway both wide and high enough to pose a large group portrait, perhaps of Delta Gamma Sorority’s charter membership. It was the first local sorority to receive a charter from a national organization. The lobbying, which began in 1900, was rewarded on May 15, 1903, the last day of Delta Gamma’s annual convention held that year in Wisconsin. One year later the coeds were living here at 4730 University Way.
The Greek letters Delta and Gamma are signed on the tower of the featured photo at the top, which seems otherwise useless, since there is neither room enough nor light for either a crow’s nest study or a co-ed’s bed chamber. The photograph’s source, the Museum of History and Industry, gives this University District scene an annum of 1904. The neighborhood was then still more likely referred to either as Brooklyn or University Station. The latter was named after or for the trolley that carried students and faculty to the new university from their remote residences in spread-out Seattle. The former was the name first given the neighborhood by James Moore, Seattle’s super developer, in 1890, the year the future University District was first successfully platted. There was then no knowledge of the coming surprise: the University of Washington. The name Brooklyn was embraced as a cachet pointing to another suburb (Brooklyn) that also looked across water (the East River) to another metropolis (New York.)
Columbus Avenue was the name that Moore gave to the future University Way.This was soon dropped for 14th Avenue, until 1919 when the University Commercial Club joined the neighborhood’s newspaper, the University Herald, to run a contest for a new name, which University Way easily won. Brooklyn Avenue and 14th Avenue were Seattle’s first fraternity/sorority rows. In early December of 1904, the Seattle Times reported, “The Beta Chapter of the Delta Gamma Sorority of the state university gave a dancing party at its new clubhouse on Fourteenth Ave. N.E. Friday.”
University Way, especially, was a sign of the city’s and its university’s then manic growth. Other Greeks soon joined the co-eds of Delta Gamma at addresses north of N.E. 45th Street in Moore’s then new and only two-block-wide University Heights Addition, which had been platted in 1899. Seven years later, and directly to the east of University Heights, Moore opened his much larger University Park
Addition. In this 1904 featured look east from the Ave. we can see that University Park is still a forest. After 1906 it was increasingly stocked with homes for the University of Washington’s growing faculty and Greek community. Many of the students’ ‘secret societies’ first got their start in University Heights, often in mansion-sized houses larger than Delta Gamma’s, which were profitably let go for the developing businesses along University Way. Typically the Greek houses eventually moved to nearby University Park.
After several moves, in 1916 Delta Gamma reached its present location at the northwest corner of NE 45th Street and 21st Avenue NE in 1916. Twenty years later it ‘moved’ again while staying put. In 1936 the sorority’s house was sold and rolled across 21st Avenue from the northwest corner with NE 45th Street to the northeast corner to become the house for the Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity. It was later named the Russian House, for its popular Russian studies and “Russian Only” rule. Across 21st Avenue, NE. at the recently vacated northwest corner, the sorority built again, this time the grand Arthur Loveless-designed 80-year-old Delta Gamma house. In sum the sorority has now held to this corner for a century.
Anything to add, guys? Yup Jean – from the neighborhood where once we sometimes hung out, and the greater neighborhood where we still live with our lakes. First Ron Edge comes up with about twenty links (again, all of which have their own links, which inevitably include some duplicates), and I will follow Ron’s list with another string of clips – sometime after I have walked the dog. It is now 3:54 AM. And so depending on Guido’s performance, I may wait until tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to add the promised string.
Here is yet another billboard negative from the Foster and Kleiser collection that Jean and I have visited a few times for this Sunday feature. The anonymous photographer chose a prospect that exposed the company’s two billboards on the roof of the Virginian Tavern, the tenant of the modest brick building at the southwest corner of Virginia Street and Third Avenue. This time Jean’s ‘repeat’ shows us that in this block not much has changed in the intervening eighty years. To gain some perspective on this booming town, the negative date, December 11, 1936, roughly splits the years between when the first settler-farmers landed near Alki Point in 1851 and now.
What were they thinking, the pedestrians and motorists here on Third Avenue? Surely of the kings of England: both of them. This is the day, a Friday, when it was at last fulfilled at 1:52 pm that the Duke of York took – or was given – the throne of his older brother Edward VIII who abdicated it for love. The Seattle Times, of course, trumpeted news about the switch, including a front page photograph of the new king’s daughter, the ten-year old Elizabeth who, an unnamed friend of the royals assured, as an “astute sharp-witted little girl” was figuring it out.
The neighborhood was then variously called the Uptown Retail Center, Belltown, and the Denny Regrade. Only the first two names survive. It is likely that many of these motorists on Third Avenue between Virginia and Stewart Streets remembered the regrade itself, and knew that they were driving under what only thirty years earlier was the south summit of Denny Hill.
Just left of center, the six-story White Garage, the tallest of the five buildings on the east side of Third Avenue, fails to reach the elevation of the historic summit. It is also short of reaching the elevation of what before the regrading was the basement of the majestic Denny Hotel, a.k.a. Washington Hotel, that sat atop the hill and advertised itself as “the scenic hotel of the West.” Both the south summit and the hotel were razed between 1906 and 1908.
Given that the featured photo at the top was photographed in the midst of the Great Depression, Third Avenue seems surprisingly rife with motorcars. A review of some historical vehicular statistics may explain the motorized zest. Four blocks away at Second Avenue and Pike Street, and only thirty-two years earlier, the city’s street department counted 3,959 vehicles visiting the intersection, of which only fourteen were automobiles. One year earlier there were no motorcars – everything moved by horse orby pedal. By 1916 many Seattle cyclists had turned into motorists, and Seattle had some 16,000 cars. By 1921, with the doughboys returned from World War I, there were about 48,000 cars in Seattle. By 1929 there were 129,000 cars on the city’s streets.
Of the two billboards above the Virginian Tavern, the one on the left advertises next year’s model 1937 Buick for $1,099. Figured for inflation, the price seems surprisingly affordable. In today’s showroom, the sticker would convert to about $18.400. It seems that despite the ongoing depression, if one had a good middle class job, it was possible to own the mobility and prestige of a brand new Buick.
Anything to add, fellahs? Ron Edge has put forward this week’s neighborhood links below – neither less nor more than nineteen of them, except that each is also bound to be packed with other links and so on and on. I have not lifted so much. It is, Jean, now nearly 5 am Sunday morning and I’m surrendering to my heart’s beating pleading for sleep. However, should I survive the night I will return tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon to finish up this feature. Now I lay me down to sleep . . . and the rest that passes all understanding.