Seattle Now & Then: Yakima exaggeration postcard, early 1930s

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THEN: Mount Rainier and its foothills falsely rise above the north end of downtown Yakima’s Second Street in this early 1930s exaggeration postcard. The 11-floor Larson Building at left entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Got an old exaggeration postcard? Scan and send it to ceals@comcast.net so that we can share it here. (Courtesy Dan Kerlee)
NOW: The Art Deco walls of the Larson Building still reign over downtown Yakima. Since 2016, its Second Street façade has been illuminated with multiple colors at night under downtown’s Larson Light project. (John Baule)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on March 4, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on March 7, 2021)

With exaggeration postcards, we’re not in Kansas anymore
By Clay Eals

As springtime wanderlust beckons, so does a road trip. Just fill the tank and drive someplace civilized but close to nature. If the town seems nice enough, consider moving there.

That’s the underlying message of our 1930s “Then” postcard. It positions the Eastern Washington burg of Yakima as a gateway to recreation on the most topographically prominent peak in the then-48 states.

Oh, but what was a newcomer or out-of-stater to think? On the card, Rainier looks as close to downtown as the fictional Emerald City appeared to Dorothy and her cinematic compatriots.

Reality was quite different. This view of Second Street, anchored by the majestic Larson Building at left, looks north, while the mountain, as locals know, rises to the west. Even if someone standing at this vantage swiveled to gaze left, Rainier would be much more distant and invisible.

This is what collectors term an exaggeration postcard. Call it early-day Photoshop. Such mass-produced novelties often superimposed outrageously enormous vegetables or fake animals (“jackalopes,” anyone?) to promote fertile farming or abundant hunting. The intent was to bring a vacation laugh to folks back home.

The whimsical cards also fed tourism, as business districts everywhere strove to survive during the Great Depression. Yakima — at 27,000 population, part of a “trading territory” of 100,000 residents, according to a 1929 chamber of commerce brochure — was no exception. (Included were 3,000 Yakama tribal members on a 30,000-acre reservation.)

Adelbert E. Larson in the early 1930s. He died in 1934 at age 71. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)

If any downtown feature was a flashy draw for visitors, it was the Larson Building, constructed in 1931 by entrepreneur and civic leader Adelbert E. Larson, who devoted himself to the city he adopted in 1884 when he arrived as a 22-year-old, legendarily carrying all his belongings in a pack.

Though the financial crash had begun when Larson broke ground on the area’s first skyscraper, he “persevered because he wanted people to continue to believe in the future of Yakima,” says John Baule, archivist and longtime former director of the Yakima Valley Museum.

The resulting edifice rose to 11 stories. The Society of Architectural Historians says the detail and prestige of this John Maloney-designed structure is rivaled statewide only by Seattle’s 1929 Northern Life Tower. Inside and out, it stands as an Art Deco masterpiece.

Just north, the white Yakima Trust Building is the other remaining structure from the postcard. The massive Donnelly Hotel and other storefronts on the east side of Second Street fell victim to urban renewal in the 1970s and 1980s. A planned plaza was never built.

The result was street-level parking — the likes of which would never be seen in Oz.

WEB EXTRAS

John Baule (Washington Trust for Historic Preservation)

Below are a two-part Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, an additional photo, a National Register nomination and, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to John Baule, archivist for and, from 1992 to 2016, the director of Yakima Valley Museum, for his assistance with this column!

1929 Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, part one. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)
1929 Yakima Chamber of Commerce brochure, part two. (Courtesy Yakima Valley Museum)
A Boyd Ellis postcard of downtown Yakima’s Second Street from the same vantage as our “Then” postcard, circa 1937.
The 1984 nomination of the A.E. Larson Building to the National Register of Historic Places. Click to see full pdf file.
Aug. 12, 1930, Oregonian, page 9.
Oct. 6, 1930, Seattle Times, page 33.
Dec. 21, 1930, Seattle Times, page 19.
Feb. 1, 1931, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 17, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 13, 1931, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
Oct. 18, 1931, Seattle Times, page 4.
Oct. 18, 1931, Seattle Times, page 38.
Nov. 22, 1931, Seattle Times, page 30.
July 8, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14. The Larson Building is at bottom left.
Feb. 18, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 36.
June 8, 1934, Seattle Times, page 34.
June 9, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Feb. 23, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 96. She was an active socialite in Yakima.

Seattle Now & Then: Third Church of Christ, Scientist, ca. 1922

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THEN: The Third Church of Christ, Scientist, at the southeast corner of Northeast 50th Street and 17th Avenue Northeast, stands just prior to its 1922 completion. An early member described the nearly $100,000 building as “majestic and yet pure and simple, as is Christian Science itself.” Architect George Foote Dunham also designed Fourth Church (today’s Town Hall). Stained glass in both structures was created by the Povey Brothers of Portland. (courtesy, Third Church of Christ, Scientist)
NOW: Standing before the former Third Church, historian Cindy Safronoff holds a copy of her book, “Dedication: Building the Seattle Branches of Mary Baker Eddy’s Church.” The structure complements the adjoining Greek Row neighborhood, extending several blocks north of the University of Washington. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 25, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Feb. 28, 2021 )

There’s nothing metaphysical about the fate of this once sacred space
By Jean Sherrard

Those with an ecclesiastical bent — or, thanks to Pete Seeger and the Byrds, a rock ’n’ roll penchant — know that for everything there is a season.

These structures understand it viscerally: Seattle’s Town Hall, the Rainier Arts Center in Columbia City and two each called “The Sanctuary,” an event venue in West Seattle’s Admiral District and a luxury townhome complex on Capitol Hill. Designed without overtly religious symbols, these repurposed community gems were built as in the early 20th century by Christian Scientists.

Founded by Boston-based Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), the Christian Science movement emerged in 1879 with a mere 26 followers. Eddy’s metaphysical teachings ignited the fastest growing religion of its time, eventually garnering nearly 270,000 members. Burgeoning congregations enthusiastically erected mostly Classical Revival style churches nationwide, including Seattle.

“With the appearance of the edifice for First Church (on Capitol Hill in 1906), Christian Science became more visible on the city skyline,” recounts church historian Cindy Peyser Safronoff, in her 2020 book “Dedication: Building the Seattle Branches of Mary Baker Eddy’s Church.”

Naturally, local mainline denominations grew wary of the competition. The Rev. Mark A. Matthews, influential pastor of Seattle’s 10,000-strong First Presbyterian Church, lobbed an early slam, labeling Eddy’s teachings “blasphemous, immoral, licentious and murderous.” Despite denunciations, however, Christian Science growth and construction flourished across the city.

Within a hundred years of its founding, Christian Science joined many other churches in turn-turn-turning to a fallow period. Dwindling congregations scarcely could afford upkeep of their “sacred spaces” while land values soared.

Case in point: the former Third Church of Christ, Scientist, shown in this week’s “Then” photo. Designed by Portland architect George Foote Dunham and completed in 1922, it was sold in 2006, the congregation trusting that the new owner – celebrity-attracting megachurch Churchome (then City Church) – would keep the structure intact.

But it is up for sale again, this time with a recently granted demolition permit, raising preservationists’ ire. “Replacing this elegant contributor to the historic Olmsted boulevard would be criminal,” says Larry Kreisman, former Historic Seattle program director. “It’s a perfect candidate for adaptive reuse as a lecture and concert hall or as a community center.”

More such spaces soon may be lost. Churches and other institutions in similar straits, suggests Kreisman, should partner with preservation organizations. “The solution,” he says purposefully, “is creative thinking, brainstorming and a willingness to explore alternative paths.”

Because there’s also a season for preservation.

WEB EXTRAS

Our narrated 360 video will arrive tomorrow! In the meantime, enjoy these interiors, courtesy of Larry Kreisman.

THEN2: The spacious well-lit interior of the Third Church was also designed with acoustics in mind. (Larry Kreisman)
THEN3: The stained-glass windows in Christian Science churches contain few overtly religious symbols. These were fabricated by the Povey Brothers, whose work also adorns Town Hall. (Larry Kreisman)
Stained glass detail. (Larry Kreisman)
THEN4: Early Third Church historian Eileen Gormley noted the windows’ “beautifully shaded and mottled effect in amber and opal.” (Larry Kreisman)

Seattle Now & Then: Firland Sanatorium, 1934

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THEN: This Feb. 14, 1934, view looks northwest at 19 workers paving the entrance to Firland Sanatorium. The image is from an album of 93 New Deal-era prints of local sites purchased decades ago at a thrift store and recently loaned to this column for scanning — itself a gift of love for our region. (Courtesy Marvin Holappa family)
NOW: Standing before CRISTA’s Mike Martin Administration Building beside sanitation workers are (from left) Aaron Bard, great-grandnephew of author and former Firland Sanatorium patient Betty MacDonald; Paula Becker, author of an acclaimed 2016 MacDonald biography; Vicki Stiles, executive director of Shoreline Historical Museum, home of a Firland exhibit in 2007; Jan Screen, receptionist affiliated with CRISTA since 1957; and Kyle Roquet, facilities VP. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Feb. 18, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Feb. 21, 2021)

Inside and out, a stately, cross-topped edifice nurtures acts of love
By Clay Eals

We at “Now & Then” heartily proclaim that Valentine’s Day is worth not just 24 hours’ attention but rather a season — nay, a full year. So while the holiday fell last Sunday, we still can celebrate that our “Then” photo, taken 87 years ago on Feb. 14, represents the largess of love.

Most obvious is its esteem for jobless Americans during the Great Depression. Nineteen men are shown paving the road to the City of Seattle’s 44-acre Firland Sanatorium, west of Highway 99 in today’s Shoreline. The labor was funded by the federal Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), a New Deal relief program.

Also potent is the devotion inherent in the sanatorium, whose stately 1913 Administration Building was topped by the two-barred Cross of Lorraine, longtime logo for the National Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, later the American Lung Association.

In our coronavirus era, the word “sanatorium” seems obscure, but before the mid-20th-century discovery and distribution of antibiotics to combat TB, it denoted an institution for isolated treatment of the notoriously contagious and deadly lung infection.

In Firland’s heyday, those admitted for one of its 250 openings endured 24-hour bed rest, nonstop fresh air and other strict regimens and surgeries for months or years. Patients who beat the disease emerged deeply grateful for a new chapter of life.

“The Plague and I” book cover, 1948.

Its most famous survivor, author of the multi-million-selling farm chronicle “The Egg and I” and four Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle children’s books, was Seattle’s beloved Betty MacDonald. In 1938-39, amid her own New Deal administrative employment, she spent nine months at Firland. A decade later, she wrote a second memoir echoing the title of her first: “The Plague and I.”

While etching droll portraits of fellow patients and staff, the thankful MacDonald also rendered the darkness of her experience. Life there, she wrote irreverently, would “make dying seem like a lot of fun.” A paean to public health, “Plague” became her favorite of four books she penned for adults. Ovarian cancer claimed her in 1958 at age 50.

Today, the Administration Building bears a single-barred cross under the private auspices of CRISTA (first called King’s Garden), which since 1949 has housed and cared for seniors and served students among its ministries based at the now-56-acre campus.  Of its own volition, CRISTA has preserved the edifice lovingly.

At its door in early days, a prescient plaque placed a heart on the building’s figurative sleeve: “Generosity and a liberal spirit make men to be humane and genial, open-hearted, frank and sincere, earnest to do good, easy and contented and well-wishers of mankind.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are three more book covers, a movie poster, five additional photos and, in chronological order, 14 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Rex Holappa, Paula Becker and Vicki Stiles for their assistance with this column!

“The Egg and I” book cover, 1945.
“Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” book cover, 1947.
“Looking for Betty MacDonald” book cover, 2016.
“The Egg and I” movie poster, 1947.
Plaque depicted in 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Firland Sanatorium founder Horace Henry, depicted in woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Aerial sketch of Firland Sanatorium depicted in 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
The path from Seattle to Firland, depicted in front-endpaper woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
The path from Firland back to Seattle, depicted in back-endpaper woodcut from 1937 Firland book assembled by patients. (Courtesy Paula Becker)
Aug. 13, 1913, Seattle Times, page 4.
March 13, 1915, Seattle Times, page 3.
Dec. 27, 1925, Seattle Times, page 12.
Sept. 19, 1926, Seattle Times, page 9.
April 9, 1927, Seattle Times, page 5.
Feb. 2, 1931, Seattle Times, page 1.
Feb. 14, 1931, Seattle Times, page 6.
Nov. 14, 1937, Seattle Times, page 39.
Oct. 4, 1939, Seattle Times, page 26.
May 18, 1943, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 11.
May 22, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
March 1, 1947, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
June 14, 1953, Seattle Times, page 72.
April 21, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.

Seattle Now & Then: The Volunteer Park Conservatory, 1938

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THEN: In 1938, one of 10 trainee gardeners waters large hybrid Florist Cyclamen in the Cyclamen House (now the Seasonal Display House) at the Conservatory. Historian Brent McKee has scanned thousands of photos documenting and celebrating the history of the New Deal. Many more can be found on his blog at NDDaily.Blogspot.com and at LivingNewDeal.org. (National Archives, Courtesy Brent McKee)
NOW: Gardener Emily Allsop waters poinsettias in the Conservatory’s Seasonal Display House. The future looks bright, says Friends of the Conservatory President Claire Wilburn. “We hope to reopen in 2021 and will seek to restore connection with all of Seattle’s varied communities.” (Lou Daprile)
The Volunteer Park Conservatory on a rainy day this winter. (Jean Sherrard)

(To be published in the Seattle Times PacificNW Magazine on Feb. 14, 2021)

Grounded in work, hope continues to flower at Volunteer Park
By Jean Sherrard

In the hothouse of our civic life, voices and temperatures keep rising. Resonating for many today is President Ronald Reagan’s  famous sentiment: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help’ ”

However, the gardener watering orchids in our 1938 “Then” photo might have begged to differ.

That decade’s Great Depression, devastating the nation with a 25% unemployment rate, provided fertile ground for the landslide 1932 election victory of visionary new president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. His New Deal programs sparked a revolution, providing millions of federally subsidized jobs for desperate Americans through the Works Project Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and other agencies.

“For Roosevelt,” says New Deal historian Brent McKee, “work relief was preferrable to cash relief. He believed that given the opportunity, most people would choose to work.”

As a result, the Pacific Northwest blossomed with sizeable infrastructure projects, from trails, roads and highways to dozens of schools, libraries, post offices and other public buildings. By itself, an acknowledged granddaddy of New Deal projects, the Grand Coulee Dam in Eastern Washington, ensured many thousands of construction jobs between 1933 and 1942.

But smaller efforts also eased joblessness. Innovative projects offered work to historians, artists and musicians, acknowledging their vital cultural contributions. And in 1938, with WPA sponsorship and a nod to the beauty and solace nurtured by nature, 10 unemployed women were hired by the Volunteer Park Conservatory on Capitol Hill as assistants to head gardener Jacob Umlauff.

“Among their jobs is the task of helping care for [10,000] orchids,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer noted. The women were “light of touch and long of patience … very handy around such delicate plants.”

After four seasons of intensive training, the program offered each worker “a certificate as a Gardener, with a specialty in orchid culture.” Such a vocation could not have taken root in more fertile grounds.

Modeled after the 1851 Great Exhibition’s Crystal Palace in London, the Conservatory was a jewel in the crown provided by the Olmsted brothers-designed Volunteer Park.

London’s Crystal Palace, 1852

The Seattle Times acclaimed the $50,000 glass-paned structure as “a thing of joy and beauty” and the finest greenhouse west of Chicago.

Still operated by Seattle Parks, the Conservatory has been closed since last April due to the pandemic. But workers keep up its vast orchid collection, donated in 1921 by philanthropist Anna Clise, also founder of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital. It remains one of the nation’s finest.

Thus, while our national debate rages on, inside the steamy glass of the tropical Conservatory, hope continues to flower.

WEB EXTRAS

We are blessed with a selection of extras this week. For our 360 video featuring the Conservatory, click right about here.

Next, more of historian Brent McKee’s generous contributions, scanned at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.  The following photos are all from the late 1930s and feature the WPA horticultural training program at the Conservatory.

Lou Daprile, Marketing Coordinator for Friends of the Conservatory, took the selection of lovely “now” photos below to accompany the column. Thanks, Lou!

The Cactus House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory.
A holiday display in the Seasonal House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory
Red anthurium blossoms in the Fern House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory.
Emily Allsop works in the Bromeliad House of the Volunteer Park Conservatory.
The Seattle P-I indulged in flowery, somewhat condescending prose.

Seattle Now & Then: Sixth & Pike, 1969

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THEN: In 1969, the two-floor brick building on the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike sparkled with colorful marquees, anchored the wraparound neon of Burt’s Credit Jewelers. The decorative black-and-white squares above gave the modest edifice an inexpensive focal point to draw eyes upward. (Frank Shaw / Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: With a welcoming gesture at the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike, which had been dominated by his grandfather Max Bender’s store, Burt’s Credit Jewelers, stands Scott Bender, who carries on the family business tradition with his jewelry in Bellevue. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 31, 2021)

Confident commerce of a colorful corner beckons from 1969
By Clay Eals

As we envision a post-virus time when the heart of the city can feel colorful again, this red-bricked beauty with its kaleidoscopic signage serves as a talisman.

The scene, the southwest corner of Sixth & Pike, is specific to the day — Sept. 21, 1969, an overcast Sunday afternoon with no one on the streets. But the stillness masks a season that was anything but quiet.

Richard Nixon was president, Woodstock had drawn 350,000 rock fans, Sen. Edward Kennedy had driven off the Chappaquiddick bridge, Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon, and the anti-war “Chicago Eight” trial was nigh. Locally, the first Boeing 747 had taken flight, the Seafirst Tower (peeking at top left) had opened, and the Seattle Pilots were finishing their lone baseball season.

Anchoring this modest corner with sparkling neon and a perpetually opening and closing ring box was Burt’s Credit Jewelers, “the Northwest’s only diamond cutters.” Latvian immigrant Max Bender started the store in 1926, operating it until its closure in 1975 after the family launched a Ballard outpost.

Next to Burt’s was the equally enduring Home of the Green Apple Pie. Opening on Union Street across from the post office in 1918 and arriving at Sixth & Pike in 1932, this restaurant and bar, founded by Myrtle and Floyd Smith, swelled with cheeky hype. For example, a Nov. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer ad claimed “15 Million Persons (They Could Swing This Election) Have Eaten the Pies Baked on the Premises.” In 1971, the eatery bragged of having served up (urp!) more than 4 million pies. By decade’s end, it had closed.

On the second floor percolated an early outlet for Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), before the outdoors giant expanded to Capitol Hill and later to its flagship along Interstate 5.

Minnesotan Dick Swenson recalls carrying a folding camp tool he had just invented, called the Sven-Saw, as he bounded up the long flight of stairs to REI while visiting the World’s Fair in 1962. Greeting him was REI’s first full-time employee, Jim Whittaker, one year from becoming the first American to scale Mount Everest. Whittaker eyed the saw and said, “Why don’t you send me six?” When Swenson got home, Whittaker had ordered another six. REI remains Sven-Saw’s best retailer.

No surprise, the building eventually gave way to a high-rise, half-block business complex, City Centre. From 1995 to 2004, the corner’s newly rounded façade housed a flashy branch of FAO Schwarz toys, accented by a 15-foot-tall waving bronzed teddy bear outside.

With its legacy of commercial ingenuity, this charmed corner stands ready for post-virus life.

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are two additional photos and, in chronological order, 39 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archives (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Linnea Swenson Tellekson for her assistance with this column!

Dick Swenson (right) displays the Sven-Saw, a folding camp tool, during a mid-1960s trade show in Chicago. (Courtesy Linnea Swenson Tellekson)
Dick Swenson and the Sven-Saw, summer 2020, at Namakan Lake in upper Minnesota. (Courtesy Linnea Swenson Tellekson)
July 26, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
June 22, 1934, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 7.
May 10, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 40.
Sept. 26, 1954, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 76.
Feb. 19, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 79.
Sept. 30, 1956, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 138.
Aug. 11, 1958, Seattle Times, page 14.
May 15, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 70.
Oct. 30, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 78.
Nov. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Feb. 23, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
March 16, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Aug. 12, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 9.
Aug. 24, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
April 19, 1962, Seattle Times, page 31.
May 18, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 59.
Sept. 12, 1962, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Dec. 8, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 26.
July 3, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 17.
Nov. 10, 1964, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
March 30, 1965, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 29.
Nov. 16, 1967, Seattle Times, page 77.
Nov. 26, 1967, Seattle Times, page 241.
Nov. 26, 1967, Seattle Times, page 242.
Dec. 24, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 24.
Oct. 30, 1970, Seattle Times, page 33.
Nov. 26, 1970, Seattle Times, page 29.
June 20, 1971, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 92.
Feb. 6, 1972, Seattle Times, page 82.
May 19, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 30.
May 20, 1972, Seattle Times, page 9.
Sept. 16, 1972, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 8.
Nov. 25, 1972, Seattle Times, page 24.
Oct. 3, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 41.
Oct. 6, 1976, Seattle Times, page 68.
April 10, 1977, Seattle Times
June 17, 1979, Seattle Times, page 180.
July 22, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 138.
Oct. 17, 1979, Seattle Times, page 120.
Nov. 7, 1979, Seattle Times, page 123.

 

Seattle Now & Then: La Quinta Apartments, 1929

UPDATE: The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted unanimously on March 17, 2021, to designate the La Quinta apartment building an official city landmark. Congratulations!

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: Two years after the complex opened, this photo of the La Quinta Apartments from a 1929 Anhalt Company brochure exemplifies the pitch therein: “ ’Every Man’s Home Is His Castle’ is an Ideal realized to an unusual extent for tenants of Anhalt Apartment-Homes.” (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)
NOW: Socially distanced and momentarily unmasked, two dozen current and past tenants of La Quinta Apartments (some leaning from windows) are joined by historian Larry Kreisman (left) and Historic Seattle’s director of preservation services, Eugenia Woo (fourth from left), in displaying support for landmarking the Spanish Eclectic-style complex. For more info on the campaign, visit vivalaquinta.com. Following are the names of everyone. On the parking strip (from left): Larry Kreisman, Jacob Nelson, Brandon Simmons, Eugenia Woo, Alex Baker, Lawrence Norman, Tom Heuser (Capitol Hill Historical Society president), Juliana Roble, Eliza Warwick, Rebecca Herzfeld, Gordon Crawford, Samantha Siciliano, Ryan Batie, Michael Strangeways, Chelsea Bolan, Jerry Jancarik, Sean Campos, Clea Hixon, Jenifer Curtin, Marta Sivertsen, Aaron Miller, Finn (dog) and Mariana Gutheim. In the windows (from left): Zach Moblo (above), Ryan Moblo (below), Carlos Chávez (waving flag), María Jesús Silva (above) and Begonia Irigoyen (below). (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 28, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 31, 2021)

U-shaped edifice courts its tenants in 1927 and today
By Clay Eals

How can a house feel more like a home if the home isn’t a house? That’s no trick question. It was a real concern for prolific Seattle developer Frederick Anhalt during the Roaring ’20s nearly a century ago.

Of note among some 45 buildings Anhalt constructed were 19 apartment complexes on Capitol Hill and in Queen Anne. Each exuded unique charm that eludes the modern tendency toward mega-unit boxes.

The first example of Anhalt’s approach and execution presides in our “Then” photo. Built in 1927, the La Quinta Apartments at 1710 East Denny Way in south-central Capitol Hill clearly reflect Spanish influences, with red-clay roof tiles and stucco embedded with colored stones and panels artfully arranged in arches.

Even more significant, however, is the early use of a U-shaped footprint surrounding an ample courtyard filled with foliage and places to sit. It’s long been a welcoming centerpiece for residents of the dozen apartments (two floors each), including units in the pair of turrets at the inner corners. This element creates the notion of “home” even today, when social gatherings are discouraged but an uplifting vision can provide at least the sense of belonging.

Frederick Anhalt, circa 1929. The self-taught builder, who lived to age 101, died in 1996. (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)

“I thought that people should have a nice view to look out to and the feeling that they were living in a house of their own, different from their neighbor’s,” the developer reflected in the 1982 book “Built by Anhalt” by Steve Lambert. “It didn’t seem to make sense … to spend a lot of extra money on a building site just because it had a pretty view in one direction. Somebody else could always put another building between you and your view.”

Small wonder that a for-rent ad in the Nov. 6, 1927, Seattle Times labeled La Quinta “the prettiest and best-arranged individual apartment building in Seattle.”

Today, tenants echo the sentiment. “I know all my neighbors, I talk to them all, I trust them,” says Chelsea Bolan, a resident since 2003. “You interact, you share, you see each other all the time.”

“There just aren’t places like this anymore,” says Lawrence Norman, who grew up there when his dad owned it in 1964-74. “It brings community together. That’s a special thing, and I think that should be preserved.”

Historic Seattle agrees and is nominating it for city landmark status. The first hearing is Feb. 3.

Heartily endorsing the effort is longtime architectural historian Larry Kreisman, who wrote the 1978 book “Apartments by Anhalt” and salutes the developer’s boomtime vision: “For an expanding middle class, Anhalt made dense city-living palatable.”

WEB EXTRAS

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

Below are five additional photos, a brochure, a landmark nomination, a support letter and, in chronological order, 10 historical clippings from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Special thanks to Eugenia Woo, Larry Kreisman and the residents of La Quinta for their assistance with this column!

The 1937 King County assessor’s tax photo for La Quinta. (Puget Sound Regional Archives)
Panorama of the La Quinta apartments taken Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
Detail of La Quinta exterior art, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
La Quinta entry gate, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
La Quinta entry sign promoting landmark campaign, Dec. 28, 2020. (Clay Eals)
1929 Anhalt brochure cover. Click it to see full 16-page brochure. (Courtesy Larry Kreisman)
La Quinta landmark nomination cover, December 2020. Click it to see the full nomination.
Click to see pdf of two-page landmark support letter by Larry Kreisman.
Nov. 6, 1927, Seattle Times, page 54.
Oct. 31, 1931, Seattle Times, page 9.
April 17, 1932, Seattle Times, page 36.
April 24, 1932, Seattle Times, page 34.
Aug. 28, 1932, Seattle Times, page 15.
July 16, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 45.
July 30, 1933, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 41.
Nov. 18, 1939, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Nov. 8, 1976, Seattle Times, page 7.

Seattle Now & Then: The Pioneer Place Pergola (and Privy), 1910

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Behind the pergola, Henry Yesler’s hallmark Pioneer Building (left, 1890) and the stately flat-iron Seattle Hotel (1891) straddle James Street. The stairway to the park’s luxurious lavatory is seen beneath the pergola at front, near First Avenue. (Webster & Stevens, Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW: A 21-foot extension pole allowed for the capture of a slightly lower prospect. In the 1960s, the red Pioneer Building (behind the trees) became an icon for preservationists who spearheaded creation of the Pioneer Square Historical District in 1970. The Seattle Hotel, infamously demolished in 1961, was replaced with the “sinking ship” parking garage, now squatting below Smith Tower (1914). Reportedly, the sealed-off lavatory still exists but can be accessed only via a utility hole. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 21, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 24, 2021)

Underground convenience, sheltered from the storm
By Jean Sherrard

From a rooftop vantage in 1910, our “Then” photo looks east to a newly completed cast-iron and glass pergola straddling the triangular city park of Pioneer Place, now Pioneer Square. A collision of junctions charting early settlers’ land disputes, this fertile ground set the stage for Seattle’s future.

After the Great Fire of 1889, a downtown built of brick and stone rapidly rose from the ashes. Prolific architect Elmer Fisher led the charge, designing dozens of buildings in the muscular — and fireproof — Romanesque Revival style.

Taking the lead in 1890 was Henry Yesler’s Pioneer Building, the massive edifice at left. No slouch at right, on the south side of James Street, was the Seattle Hotel, built in 1891 on the flatiron footprint of its destroyed predecessor, the Occidental.

Soon, fueled by coal and gold, adolescent Seattle nearly tripled in population to 237,194 in 1910 from 80,671 in 1900. Improvements in plumbing, electricity and transportation met the expanding need while the city also eagerly planned its coming-out party, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

Boosters anticipated visitors from across the globe, many of whom would arrive by train and ship, passing through Pioneer Place, Seattle’s commercial hub. But they sensed that a key convenience was missing.

Their solution — considerate but controversial — was to build a lavishly appointed public lavatory with walls of Alaskan marble, brass fixtures and terrazzo floors. To welcome the expected hordes, the vision was to bury it at Pioneer Place and cover its stairwell entrance with a graceful, Victorian-style pergola that would double as a shelter for streetcar passengers.

A flurry of letters and editorials erupted. Many lamented potential loss of the tiny greensward. Others forecast yet another promotional feather in the city’s cap. In the end, fans of the commodious “comfort station” won the debate, and excavation began.

The dig yielded an intriguing archeological find. Newspapers breathlessly reported the unearthing of Henry Yesler’s 1852 sawmill foundations, west of the Pioneer Building where his first home once stood.

The lavatory and pergola, designed by architect Julian Everett, proved late for the dance, opening Sept. 23, 1909, mere weeks before the exposition closed. But naysayers fell silent when the underground toilets proved immensely popular, averaging more than 5,000 flushes a day.

The palatial privy survived until the late 1940s, when it was abandoned and capped off forever. The pergola, however, endured. Intermittently ravaged by rust, earthquakes and errant trucks, it has been restored repeatedly over the years and continues to serve as a reservoir of history and shelter from the storm.

WEB EXTRAS

What a treat! One of those rare occasions in which Jean uses his 21′ extension pole. Its full length must be seen to be believed. Check out our 360 video for proof.

And these just in! Our longtime column partner, photo historian Ron Edge, sends along two photos, which more precisely illustrate the entrances to the palatial loo.

Also, we present a floor plan for the underground restroom, a 1970s view of its deteriorated state, and a Seattle Times photo of the excavation prior to construction of the “sinking ship” garage nearby.

The Pioneer Place pergola on a foggy day. Note the fenced stairwells leading to the underground toilets. (MOHAI)
Detail of a stairwell – the west side for “women only.” (MOHAI)
This floor plan for the underground restroom is from David Williams’ blog GeologyWriter.com by way of theater historian David Jeffers.
This 1970s image of the vandalized restroom appeared in an Oct. 27, 1996, centennial section of the Seattle Times: https://special.seattletimes.com/o/special/centennial/october/saving.html
Excavation prior to construction of “sinking ship” garage, Sept. 2, 1961, Seattle Times, page 3.

Seattle Now & Then: President Hotel, 1937-38

(click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN: The President Hotel rises on Olive Way in 1937-38, in this assessor’s photo rescued among thousands of others by now-retired county employee Stan Unger, of Magnolia. Below right, a New Richmond Laundry truck services the President, trumpeting Zoric fluid, “the most revolutionary dry cleaning process of all time.” The motherly laundry’s longtime slogan: “Sox, we darn ’em.” (Courtesy Stan Unger)
NOW: With Interstate 5 to their backs, descendants of Matthew Zindorf stand socially distanced at the former President Hotel site: (from left) Audrey and Adrian Tarr, Christine Brauner and Christine and Gus Marshall, all of South Seattle. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 14, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 17, 2021)

Builder Matthew Zindorf once installed a prudent President
By Clay Eals

On the cusp of Wednesday’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., we at “Now & Then” unequivocally commit ourselves to a peaceful transition — to a pertinent Seattle subject.

We reference, faithful readers might have guessed, the President Apartment Hotel. This seven-story brick building served a 34-year term from 1927 to 1961 while perched northeast of downtown on Olive Way atop what today is Interstate 5.

Though an elegant edifice, this was no overnight abode for the likes of Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower or Kennedy, as its name could imply. With 36 single rooms and 58 two-room suites, each with pull-down wall beds, the President hosted longer stays starting at $30 a month.

Upon its opening, newspapers rallied public support. They touted electric refrigeration, radio outlets and hardwood floors and lauded “automatic elevator service to all floors,” including a basement garage, “doing away with the sometimes unpleasant necessity of going out of the building to reach the car.”

Matthew P. Zindorf as a young adult. (J.H. Blome Studio, courtesy Leon Blauner)

Headstrong entrepreneur Matthew P. Zindorf both designed and owned the President. Known as an engineer who constructed Seattle’s first reinforced concrete structure (the 1910 Zindorf Apartments, still standing at 714 Seventh Ave.), he had developed major projects here and in Canada since 1890.

He also dabbled in public policy. In three 1934 letters to The Seattle Times, he proposed how to cast off the Depression: “I would keep every honest, willing worker at work. No children nor women would be needed. I would begin to reduce the hours of the employed to give work to the unemployed. I would keep them employed all the time.”

Politics on the home front earned him tabloid-style coverage in 1929. “Wealthy Realtor Sued for Divorce On Cruelty Charge,” bellowed The Seattle Times, as Zindorf conceded custody of a daughter, a house and alimony. A Seattle Post-Intelligencer subhead said his wife, Daisy, complained that “She Did Own Housework To Save Money.” Daisy reportedly testified that Zindorf had canceled her charge accounts, limiting her to spending $80 a month to run their household with no help. Zindorf’s side went unreported.

Zindorf died in 1952 at age 93, stepping down from work just three years earlier. While residing at the Elks Club, he often walked downtown with grandson Leon Brauner, now of Ocean Shores, who recalls, “Every time we passed a particular Fourth Avenue bank, he whacked his cane against the plate-glass window.” His granddad’s rationale is a fuzzy memory, but surely “it was his way of making a point.”

Power-cranes clawed away the President’s walls in March 1961, declaring another victory in the inevitable campaign to build I-5. Pardon the expression: All in favor?

WEB EXTRAS

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

Our automotive informant Bob Carney discloses that our “Then” photo depicts (from right) a 1928-29 Ford Model A panel truck, a 1929-30 Chevrolet coupe and a 1935 Ford Tudor. The car at far left is unidentifiable.

Below are an additional photo, a map and, in chronological order, 38 historical clippings from The Seattle Times online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and other online newspaper sources that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

As a bonus, at the bottom, we include 27 additional clippings that convey the creativity of the anonymous advertising copy writer for New Richmond Laundry, who certainly wasn’t depressed during the Great Depression!

Special thanks to Leon Brauner and Diana James for their assistance with this column!

Matthew P. Zindorf as a young adult. (J.H. Blome Studio, courtesy Leon Blauner)
A section of the 1912 Baist map shows the future location of the President Hotel, indicated by red arrow. (Ron Edge)
July 24, 1905, Seattle Times, page 10. This ad indicates a five-room cottage stood on the site where the President Hotel was later built.
Sept. 3, 1911, Seattle Post-Intelligencer letter to the editor, page 7.
March 24, 1913, Seattle Times, page 19.
May 2, 1926, Seattle Times, page 80.
July 18, 1926, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 35.
Sept. 18, 1926, Hotel News of the West. (Diana James)
Feb. 20, 1927, Seattle Times, page 14.
Feb. 1, 1928, Seattle Times, page 2.
Feb. 15, 1928, Seattle Times. (Diana James)
Dec. 3, 1928, Seattle Times, page 28.
June 20, 1929, Seattle Times, page 7.
June 29, 1929, Seattle Times, page 2.
Oct. 11, 1929, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
Feb. 15, 1931, Seattle Times, page 3.
May 11, 1933, Seattle Times, page 24.
Aug. 7, 1934, Seattle Times letter to the editor, page 6.
Sept. 1, 1934, Seattle Times letter to the editor, page 6.
Sept. 17, 1934, Seattle Times, page 6.
May 8, 1936, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 10.
Feb. 27, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 15.
May 18, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 19.
June 22, 1945, Seattle Times, page 19.
Oct. 14, 1945, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 33.
March 1, 1946, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 21.
Feb. 16, 1952, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 13, 1952, Seattle Times, page 30.
July 5, 1953, Seattle Times, page 25.
Dec. 30, 1955, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 26.
Sept. 21, 1959, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 1.
Oct. 31, 1959, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 16.
Jan. 2, 1960, Seattle Times, page 17.
March 15, 1960, Seattle Times, page 25.
Oct. 28, 1960, Seattle Times, page 21.
Oct. 29, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.
Oct. 30, 1960, Seattle Times, page 52.
Nov. 5, 1960, Seattle Times, page 18.
Dec. 3, 1960, Seattle Times, page 21.
March 9, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 5.

New Richmond Laundry ads

Here is a selection of 27 creative classified ads for New Richmond Laundry, whose truck appears at bottom right in our “Then” photo. At the very bottom are an article and ad for Zoric, the fluid touted by New Richmond Laundry.

Jan. 20, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
Feb. 5, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
Feb. 7, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 51.
Feb. 13, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 14.
Feb. 24, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 22.
Feb. 28, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 46.
March 8, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
April 12, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 20.
April 14, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 23.
April 16, 1932, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page 18.
May 31, 1932, Seattle Times, page 23.
Dec. 20, 1932, Seattle Times, page 24.
Jan. 25, 1933, Seattle Times, page 18.
Feb. 5, 1933, Seattle Times, page 23.
March 23, 1933, Seattle Times, page 25.
March 26, 1933, Seattle Times, page 23.
April 7, 1933, Seattle Times, page 31.
April 16, Seattle Times, page 29.
April 22, 1933, Seattle Times, page 11.
Oct. 29, 1933, Seattle Times, page 31.
Nov. 3, 1933, Seattle Times, page 34.
Oct. 4, 1935, Seattle Times, page 40.
Dec. 31, 1935, Seattle Times, page 17.
Jan. 6, 1937, Seattle Times, page 21.
Aug. 6, 1937, Seattle Times, page 17.
March 9, 1940, Seattle Times, page 12.
April 19, 1944, Seattle Times, page 23.
Nov. 13, 1933, Catholic Transcript, page 11.
Nov. 13, 1933, Catholic Transcript, page 9.

Seattle Now & Then: The Jackson Street Regrade, 1908

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: To accommodate fill dirt expected from the Jackson Street regrade, pre-existing structures like these hotels near the southeast corner of Sixth and Weller were lifted by their owners onto posts. After the regrade, the incline between Twelfth and Fifth avenues was reduced to less than 5% grade from the previous 15%. This photo was taken on May 20, 1908, halfway through the project. (Lewis & Wiley, courtesy Ron Edge)
NOW: Shoppers line a walkway between Fifth and Sixth avenues in the Chinatown-International District in early December 2020. Photo historian Ron Edge positions the “Then” hotels just inside the walls of today’s Uwajimaya Village at right. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in the Seattle Times online on Jan. 7, 2021
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Jan. 10, 2021)

Sluicing away Jackson Street to unclog the city’s future arteries
By Jean Sherrard

Long before becoming a student of Seattle history, I had a recurring (and oddly unsettling) dream of hiking an unbroken ridge between First Hill and Beacon Hill. Were it not for Reginald Heber Thomson (1856-1949), our city’s current topography may have matched my dreamscape.

THEN 2: Reginald H. Thomson, Seattle city engineer, in 1905. (courtesy, Seattle Municipal Archives)

When Thomson first stepped onto Seattle docks on Sept. 25, 1881, he told a friend that the city was built in a hole and he meant to dig it out. The 25-year-old’s ambition might have been attributed to youthful exuberance, but in the decades to come, his words would prove prophetic. Appointed city engineer in 1892, Thomson began by installing water and sewage infrastructures (still in use today) before attacking Seattle’s hills and valleys.

Notes David Williams in his masterful 2015 history of Seattle topography “Too High and Too Steep,” to Thomson “a functioning city was like a human body.” He insisted that “enlarging and improving what he called the city’s arteries” was vital to Seattle’s future health.

A view from lost Denny Hill, looking north to Magnolia

Picturesque piles of glacial deposit — like Denny Hill north of downtown — were, in Thomson’s view “an offense to the public,” interrupting the free flow of traffic. In 1898, the hill’s decapitation commenced, using hydraulic hoses (called “giants”) to liquify and sluice away the moraine.

One of the “giants” in action (courtesy Ron Edge)

When Rainier Valley residents complained that the Jackson Street incline’s steep 15% grade obstructed access to Seattle’s business district, Thomson lent a sympathetic ear. Intrigued by their initial suggestion to tunnel through the hill, he eventually advanced a “far cheaper and far better” solution — utter removal. “Every house and every garden and every street” in the affected areas might be lost, but he judged the sacrifice necessary to make municipal headway.

Looking east from the corner of Weller and Maynard

In May 1907, the hydraulic giants began their work. Enormous pumps fed up to 25 million gallons of salt and fresh water daily to their pressurized hoses, expelling a thousand cubic yards of dirt during each eight-hour shift.

Another view looking west from Eighth and Weller

Completed in December 1909, the Jackson Street project covered the largest surface area of all Seattle regrades: 56 blocks in total, with 29 lowered and 27 raised. More than three million cubic yards of dirt were moved, lowering Ninth and Jackson by 85 feet and raising Sixth and Weller by about 30.

My recurring dream may harbor some whiff of lost geography, yet the force of R.H. Thomson’s vision resides. While often trading natural beauty for an engineer’s expedience, his straightened, flattened, stretched Seattle provided a blank canvas for cityscapes to come.

WEB EXTRAS

To see our Now & Then featured in spectacular 360 video, along with an audio narration by Jean, click here.

A few more regrade-themed spectacles below:

A western view of the regrade, with King Street station’s clock tower just right of center

Now & Then here and now