To those who do not live in West Seattle, the “parts” that best represent it are, I imagine, a trio of large landmarks: Duwamish Head, Alki Point, and Lincoln Park. We might make it a quartet by adding Schmitz Park, although I doubt that many residents of Laurelhurst, Wallingford or Ballard have ever ventured into its virgin wilds. These four destinations are, of course, very familiar to West
Seattleites, but I will further speculate that it is none of the four but rather the Junction that best represents the heart and soul of West Seattle, the grand peninsula at the southwest corner of Elliott Bay. It is the Junction, extending in every direction from the intersection of SW Alaska Street and California Ave. SW, that is the best-loved corner in that corner.
Here – in the featured photo at the top – is the Junction on September 23, 1941. With its low-rise profile and small-shop milieu, Jean Sherrard’s repeat is similar to the neighborhood recorded two months and two weeks before the United States entered the Second World War. At that time a photographer on assignment for the Foster and Kleiser billboard company was working to promote the Junction neighborhood as a fine place to advertise. Note the sign on the roof left-of-center – and in the other company signs collected here. The photographer has aimed his or her camera north on California from midway between SW Edmunds Street and SW Alaska Street. The four shining and parallel lines marking the pavement at the scene’s center are the surviving remnants of the Junction’s creation in 1907. That year the Fauntleroy and West Seattle electric streetcar lines first converged: a junction. It also was the year of West Seattle’s convergence with, or annexation into, Seattle.
Because of its connections, the Junction soon grew into West Seattle’s commercial center. William (known as W.T.) Campbell, a skilled real-estate boomer, was largely responsible for the Junction’s rising above the sometimes wetland (it began, in places, as a swamp). And it was Campbell who built the two two-story brick buildings that still hold half of the intersection: the Campbell Building (1918) at the northeast corner and the Hamm Building (1926) at the northwest corner. It is these two ornate landmarks that one of the city’s most energetic heritage groups, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, is nominating as worthy of preservation with a project it has named “We Love the Junction.”
Why? Clay Eals, the group’s executive director, explains, “We know that none of us will live forever. But landmarking the unique structures that for the past century have created an attractive and vibrant center for connection and collaboration, for friendly commerce, for appreciation of the visionaries who came before us, for the inexpressible sense of home, and for affirmation of our humanity – this is the stuff of identity, of legacy and of hope.” We will add that a visit to loghousemuseum.info, the group’s website, will reveal with moving splendor this heritage group’s good works, including those of “We Love the Junction.”
Anything to add, mes amis? Yes Jean, Ron has returned to the blog a few of its more recent neighborhood insertions. While was have quite a stack of ancient features that we might have lifted here, we will not for want of time, which must be given to our next contribution to the Times, also a West Seattle feature – one from Alki Point. For coda we will now slip in a poem on California Street, which seems – to me – to date from about 1940. I confess that I do not remember where I picked it up. Perhaps a reader will know and enlighten us all.
For “SO SHORT A TIME” a CALIFORNIA AVENUE CLOCK – Courtesy, Southwest Seattle Historical Society
This week’s ‘Now & Then’ is a rare – and perhaps the only – occasion in the thirty-four years of this weekly feature to find a ‘then’ that is a harbinger of a ‘now.’ After Jean Sherrard photographed the latter a while ago, I kept it on my desk as a challenge to find a historical scene that foretokened it, or nearly so. The omen recently reached us through the agency of Ron Edge, a frequent help to this feature. Ron let us know that a mutual friend, the public historian and collector Dan Kerlee, had earlier shared this week’s ‘then’ with him. The pioneer photographer recorded his shot within a soft shout of Jean’s storm-soaked capture. It will do nicely.
Here’s Jean recollection. “On a spring evening, driving north on I-5 from downtown, I found myself in a torrent – a quantity and quality of rainfall that occurs in the tropics, but rarely in Seattle. Buckets, cats and dogs, and Noah’s flood were the metaphors that came to mind. The windshield wipers pushed through liquid an inch thick, and everyone in their right mind had slowed to a crawl. Then, minutes before setting behind Queen Anne, the sun broke through the downpour, slicing away a few lower-lying clouds. I exited at Lakeview Drive and splashed up to a viewpoint overlooking the freeway. Like most natives, I don’t carry an umbrella, so I held a cardboard box over my head to protect my camera while I snapped a dozen shots of the city north and south, capturing Seattle in one of its rarer incarnations, under a sun-soaked deluge.”
Samuel F. McKnight, the photographer of the fortuitous early scene (at the top) operated a studio here for a few years before and after the city’s Great Fire of 1889. His surviving work is not large. The featured print looks north-northwest across a Lake Union only recently divested of its surrounding forest.
On this southeast corner of the lake, the line of Louisa and David Denny’s electric trolley to Brooklyn (University District) and Ravenna Park passes between the homes on Eastlake Ave., bottom-left, and a park/beer garden landscaped with a swimming beach and a screen of shade trees growing beside it. This park with its windmill and tower was opened in 1886 as a lure to what was then the terminus of the horse-drawn Seattle Street Railway. The little bay beyond the trees has since been mostly filled in. The ships of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were long parked here, and the Lake Union Dry Docks, off-camera to the left in the featured photo at the top (but markedly shown three photos down), has been at work since 1919. Fremont and Ballard, upper-left, are mottled with smoke and steam from their mills.
Anything to add, lads? Surely – another necklace of links from more recent features unfolded by Ron and pulls in the ancient majority pulled by me. Some visitors – five or ten – may noticed that we have again failed to introduce our blog with a little and somewhat improvised video on the week’s featured photo. In the midst of Jean’s play production and my organizing/editing some 1400 pages of “Keep Clam” (a bio of Ivar Haglund), we are now and for a while so busy. But at some point in this rejuvenating season we shall return with our playful – we hope – videos.
Here’s an early mist-enveloped glimpse looking west into Ballard from the West Woodland corner of 4th Avenue NW and NW 60th Street. Turn around and the landscape rises sharply to the east, climbing Phinney Ridge to its Woodland Park summit. The homes of sawyers and other breadwinners have not as yet filled the blocks this far east from Ballard’s many lumber mills, although this West Woodland neighborhood has been nearly clear-cut and is waiting for buyers.
The modest and yet surely comfortable home, posing above with its residents at the center, dates from the 1890s. It was probably built by the carpenter-contractor Rasmus “Robert” Jensen, the man standing on the front porch with his wife Marie and most likely their daughter Anna. The lawn is fitted with a small orchard. In a later photo the fruit trees have multiplied and taken charge of the acres surrounding the home. These learned observations come by way of Susan Pierce. who is posing with her son Andy for Jean Sherrard in his recent repeat. Nine years ago Susan and her husband Blake moved into the home that stands directly east across 4th Avenue from the pioneer Jensen abode.
From their kitchen window the couple look out upon the Jensen homestead. It is a prospect not far removed from that taken by, if we can believe the pencil note on the back of the original print (above), Broback Photo, an itinerate photographer from San Francisco. The original print, number 6446, is kept in the Museum of History and Industry’s “original photo file.” It is from these files that many grapevines of heritage study sprout – including mine. (I began my study of Seattle’s pictorial history with visitsto the MOHAI library forty-five years ago.)
With her son Andy’s birth three years ago, Susan was awakened not only to nurturing her boy but the western slope of Phinney Ridge as well. These nourishing urges came together while taking Andy and her camera for perambulations around the neighborhood, and her research continued at home during Andy’s naps. By now the baby is a boy who can distinguish between a gable and a bay window. Susan opened both a Facebook page and blog on the subject of her neighborhood’s history. The results are admirable, and flourishing too, with over 600 users. With the help of her neighbors this genial grapevine keeps on growing. You may wish to review the fruits of these labors, either on the blog at https://vintagewestwoodland.wordpress.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/vintagewestwoodland
Anything to add, mates? First what we did NOT add – another video. The play is the thing. Jean has two more weeks of play production ahead and then we hope to resume the video treatments of these weekly features again. Otherwise we have more neighborhood features, some recent and some rather old. We start again with the more recent features pulled forward by Ron Edge. Click them to open them. We count “neighborhood” here as anything from Ballard to Green Lake, but still we have acted with restraint.
In 1904 when the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company had nearly completed the construction on their oversize plant in Georgetown, the citizens there, at least 300 of them brewery employees, voted to incorporate. The citizens took to politics largely to facilitate the sale of booze and associated pleasures – to create a town free of censors, prohibitionists, and all but the least acquisitive of tax collectors. The brewery’s superintendent, John Mueller, won two of the new town’s most important positions: mayor and fire chief. The third position, chief of police, was paid well.
Also in 1904, the brewery’s superintendent had a sincere talk with himself, the town’s mayor, about building, for the convenience of workers, a footbridge over the railroad tracks that separated the brewery from Beacon Hill, which is not so steep where it rises east of Georgetown. Although the footbridge was delayed for twenty years, the building of small workers’ homes to the east of the tracks was not. Many of these survive. On snuggly-fitted blocks 800 feet-long, upwards of thirty homes look at each other across streets, such as 16th and 17th Avenues South.
When new in 1904, the 855-foot-long red brick brewery along Duwamish Avenue (Airport Way) was a few feet longer than St. Peter’s Cathedral in the Vatican. It was billed by its boosters as the largest brewery west of the Mississippi, and by 1912, after some additions were made, including greater ice production and doubling the size of the bottling works, the Georgetown brewery was listed as the sixth largest in the world.
Locally, Georgetown’s “cathedral to brewing” was described as the largest industrial establishment in the state in 1914, the year that plans for the Juneau Street footbridge were revived. The brewery covered the cost, about $3,300. A C.H. Stratton won the contract on Dec. 10, 1914. Expecting to complete the construction in ninety days, he ran only a little late. As the caption across the base of the featured print at the top notes, “Juneau S. footbridge Built 1914-5, Open 3-26-1915,” which may be the date, or close to it, this print was recorded. A second caption at the bottom of the negative is too faded to include here. It reads, “Secured by efforts of Dept. of P.W.” (Public Works).
It was a different sort of “public works” that caused Georgetown’s growth and increasing optimism of the mid-teens to flounder. In 1916, the anti-saloon warriors and Washington State’s effective teetotaling legislators won the war against intoxicants by imposing statewide prohibition. Rainier Beer was moved to San Francisco. After midnight on Jan 1, 1916, bars were closed and all the jobs serving the imbibing culture – including those of hundreds of brewery and bar workers in Georgetown – were over. National prohibition, beginning in 1920, prevailed for thirteen often-farcical years of abstinence, until the breweries and bars were reopened in 1933. Months earlier, on Monday, Oct. 17, 1932, the deteriorating Juneau Street footbridge was closed to pedestrians and soon dismantled.
Anything to add, chief? Not as much as we ordinarily contribute. We will make up for it in about one month when our now-then on the Georgetown RR Station will be featured. It is a neighbor within yards of the pedestrian bridge. We will treat on both subjects – the trestle and the station – then in our video, which since late last year has introduced the blog. The truth is that Jean is also busy producing/directing another play with his students at Hillside School (in Bellevue – see the link for the school on our front page) and I am happy to give more time to wrapping up “Keep Clam,” my long work-in-progress on an Ivar Haglund bio. Meanwhile here on some neighborhood-related features, plus a few bridges, from the blog’s recent past, which Rod Edge has pulled and placed.
John McCoy, past archdiocesan spokesman and author of A Still and Quiet Conscience, a biography of Seattle Archbishop Emeritus Raymond G. Hunthausen, first alerted us to the decision of the archdiocese to create a centennial commemoration of the dome’s fall. I next called Maria Laughlin, Director of Stewardship at St. James, to ask about the possibility of repeating the hole-in-the-dome shot from the Big Snow of 1916 during the commemorative service. She asked, “How does Jean feel about heights?” After I listed some of his ascents, she agreed to introduce Jean to Brenda Bellamy who would serve as his guide. Here’s Jean’s recap of the climb.
“After reaching the rooftop, we clambered through a small exterior door leading into the ‘attic.’ To avoid interrupting the centennial service below, we crept along catwalks and ramps in near darkness. Squeezing between struts and support beams, we climbed several ladders to reach our final destination: the oculus, a twelve-foot- (I’m guessing here) wide circular opening directly above the altar of the cathedral. My guide had already hoisted a snowmaking machine up onto the opposite side of the oculus, waiting for a dramatic, if necessarily truncated, recreation of the Big Snow of 1916 during the service.
“I scooted around the upper outside edge of the oculus. While below us readers, quoting from newspaper accounts of the day, told the thrilling story of the dome’s collapse, I tried out different angles for our repeat. Particular culpability was ultimately reserved for the New York City engineers or fabricators who had assembled the dome’s flawed superstructure. It was allowed that Seattle and the Good Lord were blameless. At an appropriate moment, the lights dimmed and Brenda Bellamy switched on the snow-maker, sending a small blizzard of flakes down through the oculus and over the altar below. We then returned to the cathedral floor, where young Irish dancers were entertaining the congregants to the sound of pipes.”
Raised a Protestant, the centennial show has made me consider conversion.
Anything to add, Fra Paul? Brother Ron? Yes, and we can promise you and the readers more twin towers. We start, again, with Ron’s pull of relevant features – including on Protestant (3rd up from the bottom of the “Ron Links”) mixed in with a few more Catholics – posted here since we began doing these weekly duties. Then we will attach a few features from the distant past – again relevant ones. (And we will surely miss a few of the many First Hill features we have managed to assemble over the past thirty-four years.*)
Albert Braun arrived from Iowa soon after Seattle’s Great Fire of 1889. Or perhaps before. I we can trust the photo published below, Braun was here on the day of the fire and enjoying come cold beers at the beer garden that was then open at Pike Street and Front Street (First Avenue). The caption to his piece of Seattle Times nostalgia from 1934 makes some spirited claims.
Whether before the Great First or after it, within a year-and-a-half of the young German immigrant’s arrival here, with financial help from local and mid-western investors, Albert Braun built this brewery about two miles south of Georgetown. The then still serpentine Duwamish River is hidden behind the brewery. Directly across the river, on its west side and also hidden, was the neighboring community of South Park. Braun’s name is emblazoned on the brewery’s east façade, and so it was best read from the ridge of Beacon Hill and from the trains on the mainline railway tracks below.
The brewing began here mid-December 1890, and the brewery’s primary brands, Braun’s Beer, Columbia Beer, and Standard Beer, reached their markets late in March of 1891. The 1893 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Seattle includes a footprint of the plant that is faithful to this undated photograph. The map’s legend notes that the buildings were “substantial, painted in and outside” with “electric lights and lanterns” and that a “watchman lives on the premises.” It also reveals, surprisingly, that the brewery was “not in operation” since July of that year. What happened?
The economic panic of 1893 closed many businesses and inspired a few partnerships, too. Braun’s principle shareholders partnered his plant with two other big beer producers, the Claussen Sweeney and Bay View breweries, to form the Seattle Brewing and Malting Co. Braun’s landmark was then designated as “Albert Braun’s Branch.” Of the three partnering breweries, this was the most remote, and it was largely for that reason – combine with the year’s panic – , it seems, that it was soon closed. The upset Braun soon resigned, sold most of his interests in the partnership, and relocated in Rock Island, Illinois. There, in quick succession – or simultaneously – he started work on a new brewery and fell in love, but with tragic results. Early in 1895 (or late in 1894, depending) Albert Braun committed suicide, reportedly “over a love affair.”
For six years this tidy Braun brewery beside the Duwamish River stood like a museum to brewing, but without tours. Practically all the machinery was intact, from its kettles to its ice plant, until the early morning of Sept 30, 1899, when The Seattle Times reported “the nighthawks who were just making their way home and the milkmen, butchers and other early risers were certain that the City of Tacoma was surely being burned down.” They were mistaken. It was Braun’s five-story brewery that was reduced to smoldering embers. The plant’s watchman had failed that night to engage the sprinkler system that was connected to the tank at the top of the five-story brewery. The eventually flame-engulfed tank, filled with 65,000 gallons of river water, must have made a big splash.
There is at least a hint that the brewery grounds were put to good use following the fire. The Times for August 11, 1900, reports that the teachers of the South Park Methodist Episcopalian Sunday School took their classes “Out for a holiday on the banks of the beautiful Duwamish River, (and for) a pleasant ride over the river to the Albert Braun picnic grounds.”
Anything to add, lads? Here’s Lady Rainier to cheer you on!
Yup. Ron has found a few links that prowl the territory – widely conceived – and we have reached far for four or five more.
JUST 45 DRINKING DAYS LEFT (A Collection of Pioneer Square neighborhood saloon life before they closed in Washington State on the first day of 1916. Jean notices that here no women are to be found. The photographer for these 5×7 glass plates has not been identified eiher.)
CLICK TO ENLARGE
Thanks to Gary Flynn the Bellingham-based “brewerian” for his writing on Braun’s brewery and many others. In 2010 Flynn received the American Breweriana Association’s Excellence in Literature award for “Outstanding achievement in supporting the objectives of ABA and the Breweriana community.”
Through our now thirty-four years of “weekly repeating,” the farthest we have strayed from Seattle’s Pioneer Square and/or the PacificNW offices has been to Spokane. But this Sunday we have stepped as far as Juneau, Alaska’s capital. Jean Sherrard, this feature’s regular “repeater” for nearly a decade, has found it exhilarating. Here’s Jean.
“Karen and I flew up to Juneau, a two-hour flight, on MLK Jr. weekend to visit our friends Robin Walz and Carol Prentice. Now we highly recommend Juneau in winter. It’s a small town of 30,000 people, nestled in the sea-level valley between impassible mountains (note: a little local ribbing at the expense of summer tourists, who stepping off the big ships and seeing snow, ask, “What’s the elevation of Juneau?”). During the chilly off-season the landscape is gorgeous and tourist-free. On Sunday morning we headed downtown to take this repeat of Frank LaRoche’s Gold Rush Seward Street. Robin and Carol, Karen, and some friendly locals crossed the street to enliven the photo, and then we adjourned to a table in the locally owned Heritage Coffee Company on the left – not too long ago a McDonald’s franchise.”
Actually, the only snow we can find in Jean’s January repeat is high above where Seward Street is stopped at the steep foot of Mt. Juneau. The snow this Sunday is mostly hidden in the forest. In LaRoche’s “then,” (below the video at the top) photographed sometime in the late 1890s, the corner for Jean’s coffee retreat on the left is occupied in part by The New York Store, where any anxious argonaut heading for the gold fields was assured by a mural-sized sign that he could get “cheap . . .the best men’s heavy clothing, underwear, rubber boots, etc.”
Other outfitters, tobacco stores, bars, chop and oyster houses, and cheap lodgings covered most of the commerce done on Seward Street during the Rush. Now jewelers, galleries, and souvenir shops waiting on what Robin Walz figures are the “up to fifteen- thousand passengers and crew who are set ashore from four-to-five cruise ships every day from April into October.” Alaskan Heritage is an alternative to pricey knick-knacks on Seward Street. The blue and pink banner hanging from the corner light standard on the right lists some of the attractions north of here at Front Street on Seward: “Governor’s House, Juneau City Museum, State Capital (and) St. Nicholas Church.”
Anything to add, pardners? Sure Jean, and please mix with what you have written just above a few of the other shots from your visit to Juneau and its surrounds, although I suspect that some of those will be in the video at the top. (What a labor it must have been to cut back Robbin and my dialogue from forty-plus minutes to twenty-something.)
Hi Paul, Jean here, with a few shots from Juneau and surrounds:
Immediately below are ten Edge-Links connected by Ron Edge to former blog features that are more-or-less relevant to this week’s subject. Under these links we will attach the several Alaska photos – most of them by LaRoche, one of the gold rush photographers from Seattle – that appear in the video at the top. The bottom will round-out – so to speak – with a few more by now nearly ancient now-and-then features that relate to the allures of Alaska.
ALASKA GOLD RUSH ERA PHOTOS (seen and described in the video at the top)
FOUR FROM SITKA (as described in the Video at the Top.)