Seattle Now & Then: Ravenna corner, 1921

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: A taxi and likely its driver dominate this depiction of the northeast corner of Ravenna Avenue Northeast and Northeast 65th Street, likely in 1921. The four-cylinder touring car is a 1917 Studebaker Series 18 Model SF. The building behind it has, since 1920, housed a pharmacy, a cleaners, cooperatives and the King County branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW). (Courtesy Peter Blecha)
NOW: Positioned in front of McCarthy & Schiering Wine Merchants are (left) Jay Schiering, former co-owner, and Gene Yeldon, current managing central partner. Historian Peter Blecha, former employee of the wine shop, is behind his 2013 Honda Fit, which stands in for the 1917 Studebaker. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Nov. 3, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Nov. 6, 2022

Like fine wine, this Ravenna Avenue anchor has aged well
By Clay Eals

Do you yearn to travel in time — say, to a century ago? For the trip, you might hail this jaunty, four-cylinder touring car, a 1917 Studebaker Series 18 Model SF.

The gent standing by is likely the taxi’s driver. His territory, indicated on the windshield, was Cowen Park, west of Ravenna Ravine in northeast Seattle. If we assume the city license (left of the driver’s right shoulder) is current, you likely would be stepping into the year 1921.

We look almost due east across Ravenna Avenue at its intersection with 65th Street, just out of frame at right, which was Seattle’s northern boundary at this crossroads until the mid-1940s.

Beyond the taxi stands a charming, two-floor brick façade built in 1920. Topped by an apartment, its street-level retail space over the years supplied a range of what broadly could be called apothecary assistance, medicinal and non-.

In its earliest days, the building housed Ravenna Pharmacy, assuredly a center for prescriptions, but also general-store dalliances such as locally made Stokes Ice Cream (“supremely good”) and wind-driven whirligigs, both promoted in the front window.

THEN2: A June 2, 1927, ad in the Seattle Times promotes Calport wine grape tonic. Ravenna Pharmacy was one of more than 200 businesses named below the ad as carrying the product. (Seattle Times online archive)

The pharmacy signed on to newspaper ads offering free enticements, from Kotex sanitary pads (“each sample wrapped in plain paper”) to Gillette safety razors (“complete with blade”). Shoppers also could find Sunset dye (“58 fashionable shades, 22 standard colors”), Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral (a fix for coughs or colds “in a day or so” or money back) and Calport wine grape tonic (“brings to a tired world tingling, vibrant force”).

It also served as a polling place for elections, a meeting site for the Masonic-based Social Club of the Seattle Court (Order of Amaranth) and a hub for free tickets to see Independence Day fireworks at nearby University of Washington Stadium.

In 1937, the pharmacy became Monsen Cleaners and Self Service Laundry, which in the early 1960s gave way to Car-Tel TV Radio (featuring the Philco Cool Chassis TV “with 82-channel VHR-UHF tuning”), then Monsen’s Ivory Jade Collectors.

In the mid-1970s, Puget Mercantile, an adjunct of today’s PCC Community Markets, moved in. Also hosting speakers and gatherings there were King County NOW (National Organization for Women, promoting the Equal Rights Amendment, still unratified today) and the North End Housing Cooperative.

The edifice assumed its most enduring identity in 1980, as an award-winning wine shop that adopted the name of owners McCarthy & Schiering and continues today under new owners who kept the appellation.

In a city bursting with redeveloped business corners, such a mainstay anchor earns esteem. You might say it’s part of the cure for what ails you.


Did any of you wonder about the little vehicle at the left side of our main “Then” photo? Reader Bob Bernstein did. And we have an answer from our automotive expert, Bob Carney:

Detail from the left side of our main “Then” photo.

“It’s probably a home-built version of a ‘speedster,’ which was an early version of a hot rod in the 1910s and 1920s. You remove the body and fenders and add a big gas tank and bucket seats, and you then have your personal version of a Mercer Raceabout or Stutz Bearcat at a fraction of the cost. Most were based on the Ford Model T, but any car could be the basis for a speedster. The one in the photo looks too big to be a Ford, and also has right-hand steering, which the Model T did not have. I think the wheels shown toward the front of the little car are not part of it, but rather leaning against it. Not sure why.”

Thanks, Bob (both of you)!


Special thanks to Peter Blecha for his help with this installment!

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

Below are 43 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Oct. 22, 1903, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p6.
Feb. 7, 1904, Seattle Times, p68.
July 29, 1920, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.
Dec. 3, 1920, Seattle Times, p8.
Sept. 12, 1920, Seattle Times p9.
June 9, 1922, Seattle Times, p12.
Dec. 15, 1922, Seattle Times, p26.
June 16, 1922, Seattle Times, p12.
June 23, 1924, Seattle Times, p22.
Sept. 7, 1924, Seattle Times, p28.
Dec. 7, 1924, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p74.
June 19, 1926, Seattle Times, p17.
March 11, 1928, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p87.
April 24, 1928, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.
March 14, 1928, Seattle Times, p15.
June 24, 1928, Seattle Times, p1.
June 24, 1928, Seattle Times, p8.
Jan. 21, 1929, Seattle Times, p30.
Nov. 7, 1937, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p58.
Nov. 7, 1937, Seattle Times, p30.
Feb. 22, 1942, Seattle Times, p34.
Aug. 4, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p7.
Aug. 5, 1960, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.
Aug. 4, 1960, Seattle Times, p23.
Jan. 15, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p24.
April 3, 1966, Seattle Times, p70.
Feb. 5, 1974, Seattle Times, p27.
July 27, 1974, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p24.
Aug. 9, 1974, Seattle Times, p42.
Nov. 20, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p32.
May 2, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p28.
Sept. 3, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p37.
May 12, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p45.
Oct. 1, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p44.
March 18, 1977, Seattle Times, p16.
Feb. 10, 1977, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
April 22, 1977, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p42.
Sept. 18, 1977, Seattle Times, p82.
March 18, 1979, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p56.
March 19, 1980, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p47.
Oct. 14, 1979, Seattle Times, p154.
March 29, 1980, Seattle Times, p18.
Jan. 5, 1982, Seattle Times, p43.
Aug. 8, 1984, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p33.
Dec. 6, 1987, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p33.

Seattle Now & Then: The Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, 1936

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Newly constructed concrete ponds teem with Green River hatchlings. Nets soon were erected to protect the ponds from scavengers. This 1936 photo, looking southwest, was taken from the upper floors of Issaquah’s Myrtle Masonic Lodge, built in 1914. (Courtesy Issaquah Salmon Hatchery)
NOW1: The ponds, reconstructed in 1981, are completely covered with protective netting. Standing in the foreground are (from left) Darin Combs and Travis Burnett, state Department of Fish and Wildlife hatchery specialists; Robin Kelley, executive director of Friends of Issaquah Hatchery (FISH); Alex Sindelar and J.J. Swennumson, hatchery specialists. A group of touring students can be glimpsed at upper right. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Oct. 27, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 30, 2022

As young vampires, ghouls and superheroes prowl our neighborhoods cadging for candy this Halloween, actual monsters roam the deeps — and the shallows.

Hideously transmogrified, they struggle upstream past the banks of Pacific Northwest lakes, rivers and streams in an intricate and terrifying water ballet.

While on the hunt for ghost stories suitable for this shivery season, I thumbed through regional reports of the supernatural, from a haunted Georgetown mansion to the spooky lower level of the Pike Place Market, but each tale seemed more trick than treat.

But I caught a break investigating a potential “Then” photo at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery when serendipity inspired a question.

“Know any scary stories about fish?” I asked hatchery specialist J.J. Swennumson.

Hatchery specialist J.J. Swennumsen sorts Coho hatchlings. “This is the job I was born to do,” he says.

“Soos Creek Hatchery,” J.J. said, referencing an Auburn facility. “That place was super freaky.”

The reputedly haunted Soos Creek Hatchery. These spooky old structures have mostly been replaced by spanking new ones.

Mysterious, dead-of-night music and an apparition named Homer made regular appearances. After the hatchery’s eerie old building was replaced, however, the spooks fell silent.

“But,” J.J. added impishly with a twinkle, “we’ve got zombies.”

Out of dozens of state, federal and tribal hatcheries, Issaquah with 250,000 annual visitors is our state’s most popular. Built in 1936 by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration, the facility aimed to restore historic salmon runs to Issaquah Creek, devastated by decades of coal mining and logging.

The hatchery’s first salmon stock, borrowed from nearby Green River, was released into the creek to general rejoicing, followed by decades of activity.

We’ll get to J.J.’s zombies, but if you have forgotten your salmonid factoids, here’s a quick refresher:

For at least two million years, Pacific salmon have flourished in our cold mountain rivers and streams. From freshwater spawning beds, hatchlings eventually head downstream to the ocean where, after several years of feeding and growth, they chart a course for home.

In what marine biologists describe as one of nature’s most remarkable mysteries, migrating salmon take cues from the Earth’s geomagnetic field to traverse thousands of miles of saltwater and arrive at their natal river’s mouth. Upon entering fresh water, a sense of smell thousands of times more sensitive than a bloodhound’s guides the fish to their original spawning grounds.

A salmon leaps out of the creek, seeking entry to the hatchery.

With the change in salinity, however, they stop feeding entirely. Their once-sleek silver bodies alter color and shape as their internal organs, save those charged with reproduction, begin to fail.

A mottled “zombie” salmon swims in Issaquah Creek, skin scraped away, lips sheared off.

Battered, scarred, scarcely alive, these “zombie” salmon finally arrive home to spawn a next generation. But their contribution doesn’t end there. Their decaying bodies, strewn along riverbanks, provide autumnal protein for wildlife and nitrogen-rich fertilizer for surrounding trees.

A female mallard duck feasts on salmon remains in Issaquah Creek.

In other words, tricks and treats!


A few more photos of the hatchery and Issaquah creek below. Also, check out our 360 video featuring a visit to the hatchery.

J.J. dips a net into the adult tank where returning salmon throng
The adult tank filled with returning chinook
Issaquah Creek flows outside the hatchery walls. Gulls and ducks prowl in search of salmon sushi.
A gull watches “zombie” salmon swim past
J.J. tosses a salmon carcass into the creek where it will feed and fertilize

Seattle Now & Then: Italian villa, 1930s

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: In 1952, then-17-year-old Virginia Cettolin perches in what she and her five siblings called the “wonder tree” (a Magnolia) in front of her childhood home at 4022 32nd Ave. S.W. that took her father 13 years to finish, starting in 1926. “How many hours we spent in our wonderful tree,” Virginia says. “It was an airplane, a stagecoach. Even the dog went up in the tree.” (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
NOW1: Virginia Cettolin, visiting from her present home in Blaine, stands before the same tree today. Her mom and dad lived in the house until their deaths in 1966 and 1969, respectively. (Clay Eals)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Oct.20, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 23, 2022

‘A dream to do good’ inspired steelworker to build Italian villa
By Clay Eals

The phrase “hidden in plain sight” could have originated with the Cettolin house in West Seattle.

Nestled along the unpretentious, extended block of 32nd Avenue between the Fauntleroy Expressway (opened in 1965) and Nucor Steel (opened in 1905 as Seattle Steel), the dwelling, upon further examination, looks to be a villa straight from Italy.

Which was the intention. It was created by Fausto Urbano Cettolin (sett-oh-LEEN), who came to the United States in 1913 from the northern Italian town of Pianzano. In 1921, he married Erma Dina Monti, also a 1913 newcomer, arriving from Italy’s coastal city of Livorno.

THEN2: The Cettolin house in progress, without a finished front porch, in a battered late 1930s print. (Puget Sound Brnach, Washington State Archives, courtesy Marilyn Kennell)

In 1926, the industrious Fausto, who worked in the steel mill’s open hearth, began giving shape to a vision. “My father had a great love for my mother. That’s why he built the house,” says Virginia Cettolin, youngest of their six children. (Her sister Emma Dina Wislocker is the only other living sibling.) The project took 13 years.

THEN3: Fausto Cettolin works on his house’s brick foundation, a project that began in 1926. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)

“It was all in his head. He never had a plan as far as we knew,” says Virginia, an 87-year-old retired teacher and Dominican nun, visiting the three-story house from the Washington border town of Blaine. “I think it was just in him to create a family memory.”

Fausto’s pride materialized in the house’s slender stature, terrazzo floors, leaded windows and the arches and columns of its front porch, which also bears a colorful, if weathered, inlay circled by the words “Cettolin Autore” (Italian for “author”).

NOW2: Backed by the porch of her childhood home, Virginia Cettolin is flanked by owners Alan McMurray and Marilyn Kennell. (Clay Eals)

Stewarding the house are Marilyn Kennell, a former yoga teacher, and Alan McMurray, a cabinetry engineer, owners since 2014. The charm of the light-filled home brings tears to Kennell’s eyes: “It’s got such a good feeling to it.” Adds McMurray, “There’s nothing like it around.”

Welcoming Virginia Cettolin to their home is part of the couple’s dogged effort to gather data to support a Seattle landmark nomination they have commissioned.

NOW3: The Cettolin house (shaded, far right) stands on 32nd Avenue Southwest, possibly due for demolition in Sound Transit’s plan for the West Seattle light-rail extension. (Clay Eals)

While they would vouch for preserving the home in any event, the two hope landmark status would help persuade Sound Transit not to threaten their neighborhood by constructing its West Seattle light-rail extension through their street. The light-rail decision could come in 2023.

THEN4: The Cettolin house, 1944. (Puget Sound Branch, Washington State Archives, courtesy Marilyn Kennell)

In early years, the Cettolin house stood alone on three lots, with the Pigeon Point bluff, south Seattle and downtown as a stunning backdrop. Today, with subdivisions by later owners, the home is hemmed in, and the growth of greenery makes it nearly hidden and easy to miss.

NOW4: In this east-facing view, the Cettolin house stands at far right, with West Seattle’s Pigeon Point in the distance. (Clay Eals)

But not for Virginia Cettolin: “It’s the fulfillment of an immigrant, and to me, that’s why it’s very important. It truly shows from nothing to something in America. You come with a dream to do good in America.”


Special thanks to Deb Barker and especially Virginia Cettolin, Marilyn Kennell and Alan McMurray for their help with this installment!

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

Below are 35 additional photos and 26 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Fausto and Erma Cettolin. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma and Fausto Cettolin in younger years. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma and Fausto Cettolin. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Fausto Cettolin. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma Cettolin in back garden, 1950. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma Cettolin in garden, 1950. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
June 5, 1953, Erma Cettolin in garden. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Virginia (Sister Cabrini) between parents Erma and Fausto Cettolin with nun, August 1960.
Monkey tree in Cettolin yard. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
August 1961 (from left): Marian (Fausto Jr.’s ex-wife), Erma and Sister Olive. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Steps at side of Cettolin house. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
(From left) Erma Cettolin with dog Blackie and friends Eugene and Kathy Gallanetti. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Cettolin children on front porch (clockwise from top left) Fausto Jr., Gloria, Norma and Ricardo. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma Cettolin. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Norma Cettolin next to the family home. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Fausto Cettolin at work. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Fausto Cettolin with daughters Norma (left) and Gloria. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
(From left) Gloria, Norma and Ricardo Cettolin and their house. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
The rear of the house under construction. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma and Fausto Cettolin. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Cettolin children (from left): Gloria, Fausto Jr., Norma and Ricardo. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Cettolin children (from left): Ricardo, Gloria and Norma.. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma Cettolin (third from left) and six children (from left): Norma, Erma, Virginia, Gloria, Ricardo (with violin) and Fausto Jr. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
The Cettolin lily garden. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
The rear of the Cettolin house. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Virginia Cettolin in the garden. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
The Cettolin garden. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Two girls hide in the garden at the side of the Cettolin house. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Side of Cettolin house. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
(From left) Erma and Virginia Cettolin sit in a carved shrub next to the family house. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma Cettolin in the back of the family home. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Cettolin lily garden. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
Erma and Fausto Cettolin with nun, August 1960.
In later years, a gathering of the Cettolin siblings (from left): Erma, Norma, Gloria, Ricardo, Virgini and Fausto Jr. (Courtesy Virginia Cettolin)
A map of the Cettolin house and property. (Virginia Cettolin)
The wooden form Fausto Cettolin used to create the house’s columns. (Courtesy Marilyn Kennell)
Fausto Cettolin’s name, with “Autore” (author) embedded in the porch. (Clay Eals)
Dec. 2, 1926, Seattle Times, p24.
Aug. 17, 1929, Seattle Times, p13.
Jan. 13, 1935, Seattle Times, p34.
Nov. 30, 1933, Seattle Times, p25.
Sept. 27, 1935, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p3.
Sept. 27, 1935, Seattle Times, p3.
July 11, 1949, Seattle Times, p13.
Feb. 1, 1951, Seattle Times, p23.
Dec. 5, 1950, Seattle Times, p6.
Oct. 29, 1951, Seattle Times, p29.
Feb. 2, 1952, Seattle Times, p32.
Sept. 11, 1952, Seattle Times, p22.
July 3, 1954, Seattle Times, p4.
March 29, 1959, Seattle Times, p47.
March 9, 1961, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p27.
April 5, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p29.
April 4, 1963, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p36.
July 12, 1966, Seattle Times, p8.
Aug. 1, 1966, Seattle Times, p26.
Aug. 1, 1966, Seattle Times, p26.
Aug. 2, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.
April 1, 1969, Seattle Times, p32.
April 20, 1969, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p68.
April 17, 1991, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p45.
March 29, 1992, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p87.
May 1, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p70.


Seattle Now & Then: Piper on Front Street, 1878

THEN1: A.W. Piper with son, Walter, and dog, Jack, pose on Front Street and Madison circa 1878. The ghostly apparition of another couple owes to a long camera exposure. Henry Yesler’s wharf and mill can be glimpsed between the looming Woodward Grain House (center right) and a section of a balcony (far right) attached to the Pontius Building, where Seattle’s great fire would begin a decade later. (Peterson Bros. Photographers, courtesy Seattle Public LIbrary)
NOW: A camera mounted on a 22-foot extension pole looking south captures two federal buildings and a sidewalk under construction at the corner of First (formerly Front) and Madison. The young family stands very near A.W. Piper’s location in the “Then” photo. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Oct. 13, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 16, 2022

Bavarian-born Andrew Piper brought sweet treats to 1870s Seattle
By Jean Sherrard

“I scream! You scream! We all scream if we don’t get Piper’s ice cream!”

This advertisement, from May 1874 in the Puget Sound Dispatch, may be the first recorded version of the ever popular ice-cream lovers’ ditty. It was the brainchild of beloved Seattle confectioner, baker, ice-cream purveyor and socialist city-council member Andrew W. Piper.

At age 19, the Bavarian-born Piper had joined the 1848 German revolution, an expression of social unrest sweeping Europe. After its defeat, he fled to the United States to avoid political persecution.

After 20 years in San Francisco, and seeking greener, less-populated pastures, Piper arrived in Seattle in 1873, where he opened the Puget Sound Candy Manufactory, our region’s first candy shop. His large family, including wife Wilhelmina, three daughters and six sons, was welcomed by a community eager for sweets and treats.

Several years of bitterly cold winters provided more opportunities for the ambitious candy man. Hacking great blocks of ice from frozen Lake Union, Piper built the city’s first commercial icehouse. The summertime addition of ice cream to an already booming confectionary and bakery business enhanced his profits and popularity.

THEN: Waring’s Pennsylvanians, a popular band of the 1920s, are often credited with originating this slogan with their 1925 foxtrot. A.W. Piper got there earlier, indicated by this ad in the May 1874 Puget Sound Dispatch. (Washington Digital Newspapers)

His capacious First Hill mansion and a Puget Sound shoreline homestead (today located in northwest Seattle’s Carkeek Park) only confirmed his business acumen.

THEN : A.W. Piper in 1883. The popular baker advertised that his friend Henry Yesler’s health and longevity could be credited to consumption of his German “milk bread.” (Courtesy Seattle Public Library)

The heavily accented German also was an artist. His sketches, paintings and sculptures were widely admired. In his spare time, he served as a scene painter to local theaters.

Our “Then” photo features a portrait of Piper in his prime. Posing with his 6-year-old son, Walter, and their dog, Jack, Piper pauses at the southeast corner of Front Street (today’s First Avenue) and Madison circa 1878.

Perched on the balcony of Maddock drugstore, the Peterson Brothers photographer also captured a view of Seattle’s first major public work, completed in 1877: the regrading of a stump-filled, uneven pathway into smoothly graded Front Street, elevated on timbers above the Elliott Bay tideline.

Piper’s businesses thrived until Seattle’s great fire of 1889. His shop and the Manufactory, along with 25 downtown city blocks, were reduced to ashes. Piper did not reopen until two-and-a-half years later, in November 1891. Increasing competition and a fragile economy hobbled his prospects.

Upon his death in 1904, his close friend, journalist and historian Thomas Prosch, offered an affectionate eulogy. Piper was “invaluable … always able and never failed,” someone of great kindness whom “everybody regarded as a friend.”

Today, the eponymous Piper’s Creek, Piper Canyon and restored Piper’s Orchard in Carkeek Park mark the only extant namesakes of this pioneer. The orchard’s apples reportedly filled his scrumptious strudel.


We can’t find an earlier version of “I Scream You Scream” than Piper’s from 1874. Here’s a link to Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians and their hit song from the 1920s:

Paul Dorpat’s “Now & Then” column on the same “Then” photo, published Oct. 28, 1984, in the Seattle Times.

Stay tuned for our 360 video narrated by Jean.

Seattle Now & Then: 1966 Seattle Angels win Coast League championship

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Edo Vanni, former Seattle Rainiers outfielder and, in 1966, general manager of the Pacific Coast League-topping Seattle Angels, stands on the ledge of the team’s sky-high promotional sign at Sicks’ Stadium along Rainier Avenue South north of South McClellan Street. (David Eskenazi Collection)
NOW: Former 1966 SeAngels batboy George Bianchi (left) and part-time catcher John Olerud (with wife Lynda) mimic Edo Vanni’s “Then” pose next to a weathered sign at Rainier and McClellan that memorializes Sick’s Stadium (later Sicks’ Stadium). The SeAngels caps and jerseys they are wearing were provided by Seattle baseball historian extraordinaire David Eskenazi. (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Oct. 6, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Oct. 9, 2022

Aided by a Rodriguez, baseball flag last flew over Seattle in 1966
By Clay Eals

Once upon a time, a Seattle baseball team thrived on playoff hope. News stories brimmed with “pennant,” “flag” and “magic numbers” to success.

Sound familiar? Except we’re not talking about the 2022 Mariners. Instead, we salute the last Seattle pro-baseball team to win a championship — the Seattle Angels, who, one step below the majors, topped the Pacific Coast League in 1966.

Based at venerated Sicks’ Stadium (razed in 1979, now the site of a Lowe’s home-improvement store ) and managed by former pitching stalwart Bob Lemon (Hall of Fame, 1976), the team was dubbed the SeAngels by sportswriters to distinguish it from its Los Angeles-based parent club.

THEN3: The 1966 Seattle Angels team photo. Aurelio Rodriguez joined the team later. (David Eskenazi Collection)

Dotting the roster were former and future big-leaguers, including pitchers Jim McGlothlin, Roger Craig and Andy Messersmith and outfielders Jay Johnstone, Al Spangler and Bubba Morton. Veteran third-baseman Felix Torres led the team with 20 home runs and 90 runs batted in. Young first-baseman Charlie Vinson hit 19 homers, with 84 RBI.

THEN2: Official Seattle Angels portrait of Aurelio Rodriguez, who was acquired from the Mexican League in August 1966 and helped spark the Halos to the Pacific Coast League pennant. Note the “Leo” first name. (David Eskenazi Collection)

But firing up the SeAngels in their final weeks was a sensation from the Mexican League, an 18-year-old infielder whose last name matched that of Julio, today’s megawatt M’s star — Aurelio Rodriguez.

In his first game Aug. 18, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound shortstop went three-for-four. The Seattle Times’ headline: “SeAngels Pick Up Three Hits at Airport.” The future longtime major-leaguer played 17 games down the stretch for the ’66 SeAngels, hitting 254 and adding vim to the lineup. He made his first appearance in the majors the next year.

Unlike latter-day M’s luminary Alex Rodriguez, he was not nicknamed A-Rod. In fact, his first name often was shortened to Leo. He didn’t speak English, writers said, so he used sign language and was assisted in conversations by roomie Hector Torres, an infielder. After the SeAngels’ Western Division clincher, the Times’ Gil Lyons noted Rodriguez’ “ear-splitting smile.”

Rodriguez played 17 seasons for seven big-league teams, most notably the Detroit Tigers from 1971 to 1979. He was a strong-armed third-baseman in the majors, winning a Gold Glove in 1976. Rodriguez appeared in 2,017 major-league games and hit 124 homers. Tragically, he died in 2000 at age 52  while walking in Detroit when a car jumped a sidewalk and ran over him.

The 1966 season  became a jolly run for a team that synonym-seeking journalists called the Halos, Cherubs and Seraphs. The nailbiter playoff victory against Tulsa (head-scratchingly far from the Pacific Coast) stretched to all seven games. The SeAngels won the final contest 3-1.

Masterminding 44 player transactions that year was SeAngels general manager Edo Vanni, no stranger to pennants, having starred for the PCL-leading Seattle Rainiers in 1939-1941. “It’s a thrill, I’ll tell you,” Vanni said as the Halos entered their playoff. “If that’s what it takes to get major-league ball here, Seattle is in.”

His words were prescient. The Pilots arrived at Sicks’ for their solitary year in 1969, and one year after the old Kingdome opened in 1976, the M’s sailed into Seattle for good.

The rest is history — to be made.

THEN4: A 1966 Seattle Angels scorebook, which showcases Sicks’ Stadium beneath the superimposed SeAngels’ cartoon mascot Homer. (David Eskenazi Collection)


Special thanks to the incomparable  Dave Eskenazi for his help with this installment!

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

For a comprehensive look at the SeAngels’ 1966 season, click here.

Below are 23 additional photos and 43 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column.

Workers hoist and assemble the Seattle Angels’ “Homer” emblem at Sicks’ Stadium in April 1967 after the team’s championship year. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Billy Murphy Seattle Angels. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Jay Johnstone, Seattle Angels. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Jim Englehart, 1968 Seattle Angels. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Coach Jimmie Reese, Chuck Vinson, Seattle Angels 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Coach Jimmie Reese, Seattle Angels 1967. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels figure by cartoonist Bob Hale. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels Bob Lemon, Sporting News 1966 Minor Manager of the Year award. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels Bubba Morton, 1966 Seattle Angels Silver Glove award. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels bus sign. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels’ new manager Chuck Tanner, club president Bert West and general manager Edo Vanni with championship banner and trophy, December 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Andy Messersmith, Seattle Angels 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Bubba Morton, Seattle Angels 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Al Spangler of Los Angeles Angels at exhibition game vs. SeAngels. August 1965. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels coach Jimmie Reese, 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels’ Jim Campanis scores, Sept. 10, 1966, Sicks’ Stadium. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels Jim Campanis, Bill Kelso and Tom Summers celebrate pennant-winning victory Sept. 13, 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels souvenir “Homer” decal, 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels Bill Kelso, manager Bob Lemon, Jim Campanis and Don Wallace, 1966. (David Eskanazi Collection)
Seattle Angels’ Don Wallace holds ball he caught, initiating a double play to end the seventh game of the playoff vs Tulsa, Sept. 14. 1966, resulting in the PCL pennant. (David Eskenazi Collection)
(From left) Seattle Angels Marty Pattin, Bill Kelso, Jackie Warner, John Olerud, Jorge Rubio, trainer Curt Rayer, Mike White, Bill Spanswick, 1966. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Seattle Angels (from left) Al Spangler, Mike White, Bubba Morton. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Original Stu Moldrem newspaper art, 1965. (David Eskenazi Collection)
Aug. 13, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p9.
Aug. 13, 1966, Seattle Times, p6.
Aug. 19, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p23.
Aug. 19, 1966, Seattle Times, p1.
Aug. 19, 1966, Seattle Times, p55.
Aug. 20, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p13.
Aug. 21, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p35.
Aug. 21, 1966, Seattle Times, p67.
Aug. 22, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p23.
Aug. 22, 1966, Seattle Times, p19.
Aug. 23, 1966, Seattle Times, p33.
Aug. 24, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p28.
Aug. 24, 1966, Seattle Times, p15.
Aug. 25, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p18.
Aug. 25, 1966, Seattle Times, p74.
Sept. 1, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p32.
Sept. 2, 1966, Seattle Times, p17.
Sept. 4, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p17.
Sept. 4, 1966, Seattle Times, p25.
Sept. 5, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p21.
Sept. 6, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p31.
Sept. 6, 1966, Seattle Times, p19.
Sept. 9, 1966, Seattle Times, p57.
Sept. 10, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
Sept. 15, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p26.
Sept. 16, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p43.
Oct. 20, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p21.
Jan. 5, 1967, Seattle Times, p30.
March 29, 1967, Seattle Times, p31.
July 10, 1967, Seattle Times, p14.
July 12, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p26.
July 13, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p26.
July 21, 1967, Seattle Times, p21.
July 24, 1967, Seattle Times, p18.
July 27, 1967, Seattle Times, p61.
Aug. 24, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p22.
July 30, 1967, Seattle Times, p43.
Aug. 31, 1967, Seattle Times, p36.
Sept. 2, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p11.
Sept. 24, 1967, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p59.
March 31, 1984, Seattle Times, p28.
Sept. 24, 2000, Seattle Times, p44.

Seattle Now & Then: Mercer Island’s Industrial School, 1904 (now Luther Burbank Park)

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN1: In summer 1904, more than 30 boys wearing sailors’ whites stand at attention on the north end of today’s Luther Burbank Park, where they sheltered in tents awaiting construction of the Industrial School’s first dormitory. Major Cicero Newell sits at far left, also dressed as a sailor. His wife, Emma, sits beside him. The school continued, in various incarnations, through the mid-1960s. (Courtesy RON EDGE)
NOW: Videography students from Bellevue’s Hillside Student Community explore the concrete remains of the Industrial School’s practice dairy farm. In the foreground, from left, Liam Wallace, James Doyle and Ashton Westfahl. In 1970-79, Hillside rented upper floors of the then-Mercer Island Community Center’s brick headquarters.

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 29, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Oct. 2, 2022)

Jean’s note: We must assign credit where credit’s due. The “then” photo attached to this column–and the original notion to tell the story of Major Cicero Newell–came from the ever-inventive and perpetually helpful photo historian and collector Ron Edge, whose name we praise! Thanks a million, Ron!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *  *   *   *

Stepping ashore on Mercer Island, my friend Mark and I were thrilled by our discovery. Both 13, we were keen to explore and plunder. Before us stretched acres of golden, waist-high grass, dotted with fruit trees and thorny Himalayan blackberry bushes, as well as crumbling old buildings promising untold treasures.

On this early summer 1970 day, we had paddled from Bellevue’s Enatai Beach, passing under arches of the old East Channel bridge (just days earlier, on a dare, we had leapt from the span’s deck) then muscling north to the grounds of evidently abandoned Luther Burbank Park. We did not know we were repeating a journey in reverse made 66 years earlier.

Just past midnight on a cold, wet November night in 1904, 13-year-olds William Kiger and Albert Cook, wearing only their skivvies and chained together with ankle manacles, cradled the shackles to stop them clanking. Labeled incorrigible “bad boys,” they were forging a second attempt to escape from Major Cicero Newell’s Industrial School, which had recently relocated to a dozen rural acres on Mercer Island’s north shore.

Kiger and Cook crept out of the recently built dormitory and down to the water’s edge. Having earlier noted a neighbor’s decrepit rowboat tied up nearby, the boys clambered in and pushed out into the channel.

“For hours they paddled, making little headway,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. “Several times their frail little craft came near swamping, and one of the boys had to bail water to prevent it from going to the bottom. Soon after dawn, the boys, exhausted and all but unconscious, made land opposite the island on the east shore of the lake.”

Sympathetic Northern Pacific belt-line workers used hammers and chisels to cut off the boys’ leg chains and wrapped the pair in borrowed jackets.

Newell (1840-1913), a Civil War veteran commended for bravery by President Lincoln and respected among the Sioux as an Indian agent, had arrived in Seattle in the early 1890s.

THEN2: A portrait of Major Cicero Newell in 1863. He commanded the White Horse company of Michigan’s Third Cavalry.

With wife Emma, he founded the Boys’ and Girls’ Aid Society, sheltering “homeless, neglected and abused children.” They garnered strong community support, including a Seattle School Board eager for solutions to a growing problem.

Early in the 20th century, however, Newell’s increasingly punitive methods, including beatings and chaining, drew increased scrutiny and criticism. Following newspaper accounts and public outcry, Newell was quietly replaced as school principal in spring 1905.

William and Albert were not recaptured, according to the P-I story.  “The boys were allowed to go on their way. Nothing has been seen of them since.”

William Kiger became a Seattle truck driver with a large extended family until his death in 1962. No further record can be found of Albert Cook.


For our 360 degree video of this column, please visit our YouTube channel.

Here’s several newspaper articles from the digital archives regarding Maj. Cicero Newell.

The first is an open letter from Newell published in 1900 that seems reasonable, laying out methods for addressing the needs of young delinquents which might help rather than harm. Within two years, however (see the next archival article from 1902), the Major’s shocking practices belie his stated good intentions.

Before moving to the Mercer Island Industrial School site in 1904, Newell located in Seattle. The 1902 escape of another boy–this one eight years old, found wandering on the waterfront, raised questions about the Major’s tactics.

The article from which we quote in the column is included below.

And, also courtesy of Ron Edge, a copy of Cicero Newell’s book about his years as an Indian agent. He found much to admire, even venerate, during his tenure with the Dakota Sioux.


Seattle Now & Then: Roosevelt High, 1969

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Positive and reversed negative images from the title page of the 1969 Roosevelt High School yearbook show students on the school’s front walkways. (Courtesy Lea Vaughn)
NOW: In white logo T-shirts, Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity (RARE) leaders, along with other alums and supporters, gather Aug. 20 during the school’s centennial celebration. They are (front row, from left): Tami Brewer, new principal; Lea Vaughn, video lead, RARE co-chairs Tony Allison and Joe Hunter, Les Young, Allan Bergano, Robin Balee Ogburn, Kristi Blake, Leyla Salmassi, Robin Lange, Bruce Johnson, Jane Harris Nellams, Michelle Osborne, Gregg Blodgett, Tim Hennings, Hillary Moore, Jude Fisher, Steve Fisher and Bruce Williams; (back row, from left) Nejaa Brown, Catherine Bailey, Doug Seto, David Kersten, Duane Covey, John Richards, Cynthia Mejia-Giudici, Carol Haffar, John Vallot, Brooks Kolb, Doug Whalley, Janet Sage Whalley, Leslie Fikso Newell, Delos Ransom, Kris Day, Michael Bogan and Kim Peterson. RARE is open to Roosevelt alumni, students and supporters. For more info and to see the documentary film, visit (Jean Sherrard)

Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 22, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 25, 2022

Roosevelt alums create film to prompt ‘difficult’ talks about race
By Clay Eals

It probably was intended purely as creative expression, but today it holds potent symbolism.

When Roosevelt High School students designed their 1968-69 yearbook, on the title page and on each of six section-introduction layouts they paired two versions of a large photo — the first appearing conventionally and the second in a reversed, negative format, as in this week’s “Then.”

Thus, in the first version, the faces of students at the largely white north-end school appeared as just that, largely white. In the reversed version, the faces became dark.

It was the first year in which Seattle Public Schools implemented its Voluntary Racial Transfer Program, an effort to avoid litigation over a perceived failure to integrate schools as mandated by the famous 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down “separate but equal” education.

As shown in Roosevelt’s 1969 yearbook, the program had a relatively small but visible impact there. Of 1,865 students, about 75 (or 4%) were people of color, many bused from southern neighborhoods. One of those was Lea Vaughn, a biracial sophomore whose parents (father Black, mother white) chose for her to bus from the Central District, near Washington Park, to highly regarded Roosevelt and back.

Vaughn, a retired attorney and emerita University of Washington law professor, is at the core of a grassroots nonprofit, Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity (RARE), formed via Zoom during the national upheaval over the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

With a 21-member multi-ethnic board, RARE provides scholarships for students of color and has produced an engaging half-hour documentary, “Roosevelt High School: Beyond Black & White,” which aired twice this year on KCTS-TV and is available online.

With historical data and footage, along with provocative observations from 20 alums, educators and present-day students, the film seeks to “stimulate difficult discussions about race and education.” Interviewees conclude that despite Seattle’s efforts at voluntary, then mandatory busing, racial equity in city schools remains elusive.

THEN2: This is a portion of a 1936 Kroll map that color-coded areas of Seattle as green (“best”), blue (“still desirable”), yellow (“definitely declining”) and pink (“hazardous”). (Roosevelt Alumni for Racial Equity video)

They also characterize a perceived “Seattle nice” as “performative, not reformative” and address the “baked-in” effects of racist covenants and redlining in real-estate sales and rentals that the city finally upended in 1968. Startling is a 1936 Kroll map that codes areas of Seattle as green (“best”), blue (“still desirable”), yellow (“definitely declining”) and pink (“hazardous”).

Today, Vaughn lives in a Ballard neighborhood that her family would have been disallowed to inhabit when she was young. But she asserts, “I think because we used busing as the Band-Aid to not face redlining, we never really dealt with it.”

Clearly, the complexities of race bolster the longtime name of Roosevelt’s yearbook: “Strenuous Life.”


Thanks to Lea Vaughn, Peggy Sturdivant and the members of RARE for their help with this installment!

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

Below are two PowerPoint presentations prepared for RARE by Vaughn and a list of discussion questions from the RARE video.

Click the image above to see a PowerPoint prepared for RARE by Lea Vaughn, “Schools, Property, Wealth and Inequality.”
Click the image above to see a PowerPoint prepared for RARE by Lea Vaughn, “What ARE You?”
Click the image above to read the pdf of discussion questions prepared by RARE.

Seattle Now & Then: Neah Bay Salmon Fleet, 1910

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Neah Bay’s active harbor circa 1910. The “salmon fleet” portrayed by Wischmeyer includes vessels of every shape and size. Many also would have sought the more highly prized halibut in the open ocean. (Paul Dorpat collection)
NOW 1: From the roof of Brian Parker’s Dia’ht Hill home, the view of Neah Bay is largely unobstructed. The original location of the Spanish fort is center left, at the shoreline surrounded by flags. (Jean Sherrard)

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 15, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 18, 2022)

Philip Wischmeyer’s stunning panoramic view of Neah Bay circa 1910 features the Makah fishing fleet at its most active, comprising more than 200 hard-working vessels.

And while today’s protected harbor at the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula is much less busy, particularly after two years of pandemic quarantine, the Makah reservation reopened to visitors on March 15, 2022.

For Brian Parker, who graciously provided access from his Dia’ht Hill rooftop to repeat this week’s “Then” photo, the isolation was difficult but necessary to protect his community. Nevertheless, he welcomes the surge of vacationers who snapped up all summer lodgings in and around the bay.

Two-hundred-and-thirty years ago, this natural harbor, home to the Makah for millennia, briefly hosted another group of outsiders. Geopolitical competition among colonial rivals England, Spain and America to map and claim possession of the sketchily charted Pacific Northwest coast approached a high-water mark.

On April 29, 1792, English naval Capt. George Vancouver guided his vessel HMS Discovery into the strait of Juan de Fuca, beginning his mission to survey the inland waters of today’s Salish Sea.

Just two weeks later, on May 11, American merchant ship Capt. Robert Gray’s Columbia Rediviva negotiated the treacherous sandbars of a huge river and sailed into its estuary. After conducting initial surveys, Gray named the river Columbia after his ship.

On May 29, the Spanish naval frigate Princesa offloaded 70 seamen, 13 soldiers, 4 officers and a chaplain at Neah Bay. The settlers cleared land and built Fort Núñez Gaona, the first non-Native American structure in the future state of Washington.

NOW 2: Dedicated in 2008, the combined Fort Núñez Gaona/Diah Veterans Park commemorates the first non-Native American structures in the continental Pacific Northwest and honors Makah military veterans. (Noel Sherrard)

Just across a stream from the Makah village of Diah, these modest barracks, storehouses, and a bakery — as well as palisades with gun mounts — promised a significant Spanish toehold at the entrance of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But unanticipated hurdles proved difficult to overcome.

The bay itself was too shallow to accommodate larger vessels. What’s more, says Makah Museum Executive Director Janine Ledford, the native residents of Diah, upon returning from annual spring fishing and whaling camps on Tatoosh Island, began to actively resist the invaders.

NOW 3: A view from the re-opened Cape Flattery trail, looking west towards Tatoosh Island. Its historic lighthouse (1854), decommissioned and crumbling, stands on land sacred to the Makah. (Jean Sherrard)

On Sept. 29, after the volatile summer, the fort was abandoned and the Spanish returned to their home port at Vancouver Island’s Nootka Sound, never to return.

At this year’s annual Makah Days festival on Aug. 26-29, the first held since 2019, guests were welcome to celebrate the reinvigorated culture, community and health of these proud people. And the Makah choice to isolate during the pandemic proved wise. Not a single tribal member died during the quarantine.

Seattle Now & Then: Priteca and the Coliseum, 1916, 1925, 1950, 1987

(Click and click again to enlarge photos)

THEN1: Designed exclusively as a movie house, the Coliseum at 500 Pike St. in August 1925 promotes actress Colleen Moore in the silent film “The Desert Flower.” For more Coliseum details and many more photos from the 1920s, visit (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
THEN2: In June 1950, the Coliseum’s altered half-dome marquee advertises “Kill the Umpire,” a baseball comedy with Seattle diamond clown Bill Schuster in a bit part as a shortstop. (David Eskenazi collection)
THEN3: In May 1987, nearly three years before the Coliseum closed, its rotating circular marquee with neon pillar, sans Oscar statue, advertises “Evil Dead II.” (Courtesy Colin Campbell Design)
NOW: Boarded up and backed by the 520 Pike Building, the 1916 terra-cotta Coliseum Theatre (until 2020 a Banana Republic store) shines in the late July sun. (Clay Eals)


Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 11, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the printed Times on Sept. 8, 2022

Priteca’s captivating Coliseum still shines brightly downtown
By Clay Eals

Back in 1989 when I was helping to save West Seattle’s Admiral Theatre, word came out that downtown’s Coliseum Theatre, which opened in 1916, also was endangered. So I did what came naturally — went there to see a film. In it, Morgan Freeman portrayed the notoriously tough New Jersey high-school principal Joe Clark. Based on a song, its title was “Lean on Me.”

To appreciate the grandeur of what was considered the nation’s first movie palace, I climbed to the top of its balcony. The view was startling. I sat mere feet from the Italian Renaissance-style ceiling beams. The rake was so steep that only by splaying my knees could I glimpse the screen far below.

Today, as a theater, the Coliseum is largely a memory, its closing night coming 32 years ago, on March 11, 1990, with the sci-fi thriller “Tremors.”

When a plan emerged in 1992 to restore and convert the Coliseum to a Banana Republic outlet, then-Seattle Mayor Norm Rice declared, “There won’t be a more stunning building this side of the Taj Mahal” in India. The clothier operated inside the city-landmarked structure from 1994 until the pandemic sank the store in 2020.

THEN4: In 1916, young architect “Benny” Priteca works inside the Coliseum building he designed. (Museum of History & Industry 2011.49.29)

The trendsetting, terra-cotta Coliseum was one of 60 major West Coast theaters (including the Pantages chain and, yes, the still-operating Admiral) designed by architect Bernard “Benny” Marcus Priteca (1886-1971). With 2,400 seats and hailed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as “the last word in picture playhouse construction,” the Coliseum opened when Priteca was just 26.

Scotland-born into an eastern European Jewish family, Priteca had been lured to Seattle by the city’s first world’s fair, the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. His affection blossomed. As he told The Seattle Times’ Don Duncan while puffing on a cigar eight months before his death, “Washington and Oregon are the world!”

His designs — the lifelong bachelor never retired — extended to Seattle’s Bikur Cholim synagogue (now Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute), Renton’s now-gone Longacres racetrack and even a Paige auto grille and windshield. But the stage was his steadfast siren.

Arguably his most captivating creation was the Coliseum, whose showcase signage changed with the times. Notably, its concave corner half-dome, topped by a massive glass cupola, gave way in late 1950 to a rotating circular marquee and neon pillar featuring filmdom’s golden Oscar. The weather-damaged statue was removed in 1966.

Priteca told Duncan he wished that “Seattle would just stop growing, period.” Perhaps he also would have liked his Coliseum to screen movies forever. It still shines at Fifth & Pike. As the “Lean on Me” lyrics proclaim, “… there’s always tomorrow.”


Thanks to Lawrence Kreisman , Wendy Malloy, Dave Eskenazi, Colin Campbell and Gavin MacDougall for their help with this installment!

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

Below are an additional video, 28 additional photos (including a gallery of 22 early 1920s Coliseum images from Historic Seattle) and 49 historical clips from The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer online archive (available via Seattle Public Library) and Washington Digital Newspapers, that were helpful in the preparation of this column. These include five previous “Now & Then” columns related to Priteca and the Coliseum by column founder Paul Dorpat!

(VIDEO: 6:51) Click the image above to see video of Seattle theater historian Lawrence Kreisman discussing archiect B. Marcus Priteca and the Coliseum Theatre. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
An alternate view of the magnificent exterior of the Coliseum. (Clay Eals)
1923 Coliseum, “The Fighting Blade.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “A Self-Made Failure.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “A Son of the Sahara.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Cytherea.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Her Night of Romance.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Inex from Hollywood.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Sandra.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Sundown.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1924 Coliseum, “Those Who Dance.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Graustark.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Her Sister from Paris.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “If I Marry Again.” (Courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Infatuation.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “New Toys.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Shore Leave.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The Half Way Girl.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The Marriage Whirl.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The New Commandment.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “The Talker.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1925 Coliseum, “Why Women Love.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
1926 Coliseum, “Mlle. Modiste.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)


1925 Coliseum, “Soul Fire.” (Frank Jacobs, courtesy Historic Seattle)
Jan. 9, 1916, Seattle Times, p5.
Jan. 9, 1916, Seattle Times, p13.
Aug. 13, 1918, Seattle Times, p7.
Feb. 23, 1930, Seattle Times, p28.
Jan. 6, 1935, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p81.
Nov. 26, 1950, Seattle Times, p29.
Dec. 25, 1950, Seattle Times, p21.
Dec. 26, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p14.
Dec. 27, 1950, Seattle Times, p15.
Dec. 28, 1950, Seattle Times, p9.
Dec. 29, 1950, Seattle Post-Intelligener, p4.
Feb. 5, 1961, Seattle Times, p39.
April 17, 1966, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p104.
July 14, 1968, Seattle Times, p139.
Jan. 24, 1971, Seattle Times, p152.
April 25, 1971, Seattle Times, p46.
Oct. 3, 1971, Seattle Times, p82.
Oct. 3, 1971, Seattle Times, p82.
Oct. 5, 1971, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p34.
Oct. 7, 1971, Seattle Times, p49.
Nov. 8, 1974, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p53.
July 25, 1975, Seattle Times, p16.
Oct. 6, 1975, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p10.
Aug. 29, 1976, Seattle Times, p105.
Sept. 5, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p112.
Sept. 5, 1976, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p114.
Jan. 22, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p77.
Jan. 22, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p81.
Jan. 24, 1978, Seattle Times, p14.
Dec. 17, 1978, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p82.
Dec. 6, 1985, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p135.
May 10, 1987, Seattle Times, p124.
March 3, 1989, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p64.
April 5, 1989, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, pA8.
March 5, 1989, Seattle Times, p130.
Aug. 24, 1989, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p5.
Dec. 19, 1989, Seattle Times, pA11.
March 5, 1990, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p22.
March 10, 1990, Seattle Times, pA1.
May 20, 1990, Seattle Times “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat.
Dec. 23, 1990, Seattle Times “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.
March 11, 1990, Seattle Times, p1.
March 11, 1990, Seattle Times, p7.
March 11, 1990, Seattle Times, pA1.
Dec. 16, 1992, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p17.
Dec. 16, 1992, Seattle Times, pB3.
Dec. 18, 1992, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p9.
Feb. 21, 1993, Seattle Times “Now & Then” column by Paul Dorpat.
Sept. 4, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p117.
Nov. 19, 1994, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, p15.
April 21 1996, Seattle Times “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat.
March 10, 2013, Seattle Times “Now & Then” by Paul Dorpat.
The still-intact Coliseum balcony, sans seats, seen in 2019. (Beau Iverson, Seattle Magazine)

Seattle Now & Then: The Empty Space Theatre, 1970

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN 1: A 1970 cast photo from the production of “The Wax Monkey and Other Tales.” This company-created confection received its world premiere during the Empty Space’s first season. The cast included John Kauffman, John Avinger, Jim Royce, Dan Mahar, Joe Baltz, Pat Campbell, John Clark, Liz Briggs Tom Spiller, Lois Salisbury and Lee Shallat
NOW 1: Several Empty Space performers assemble in Post Alley below Pike Place Market to re-create M. Burke Walker’s original cast photo: (clockwise from lower left) M. Burke Walker, R. Hamilton Wright, Rex McDowell, Tom Spiller, Jim Royce, Lori Larson, John Clark and Kurt Beattie. Spiller, Clark, and Royce also appear in the 1970 photo.

(Published in The Seattle Times online on Sept. 1, 2022
and in PacificNW Magazine of the print Times on Sept. 4, 2022)

In the after-hours during the early 1970s, the Pike Place Market neighborhood was run-down and gritty, even dangerous. Rex McDowell, a young actor who found digs off Post Alley below the Market, kept a knife near his front entrance to thwart would-be intruders. “When they’d bang on our double doors or try to break in, we’d stick the long blade into the gap and waggle it up and down to frighten them off.”

Rent was cheap and youth fearless.

Where Post Alley makes a sharp turn uphill and to the east (just beyond today’s “gum wall”), was wedged a tiny storefront. Reputedly a former speakeasy, it was first home to Seattle’s legendary, 50-seat Empty Space Theatre.

Fresh from the University of Washington theater program, founder M. Burke Walker sought to build a new and vibrant company featuring edgier, often experimental voices. In the underbelly of the then-untouristed Market, the minuscule stage became a hothouse of creative ferment while its somewhat unsavory setting kept costs low.

The seminal 1968 book “The Empty Space” by British stage director Peter Brook triggered the troupe’s name and offered keen theatrical philosophy. “I can take an empty space,” he wrote, “and call it a bare stage.” For a young company cobbling together budget-conscious productions, austerity was a welcome challenge.

“It was the best training ground for the best theater artists this town has ever known,” says musician-composer John Engerman.

“From the start, it was a great ensemble,” adds fellow company member Kurt Beattie, now artistic director emeritus of ACT Theatre. “Great ensembles make great theatre.”

The company also played a vital role in Seattle theater, says playwright Carl Sander: “The Seattle Rep was the living room, ACT was the dining room, but the Empty Space was the kitchen.”

The Space created and presented hundreds of celebrated productions over more than three decades while migrating to Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square and finally Fremont. Though the final curtain fell in 2006, Space alumni continue to serve as chefs de cuisine of Seattle theatre whose savory fare still inspires.

On a roasty July evening, more than 150 Empty Spacers gathered at Seattle Center’s Cornish Theatre to celebrate the company’s Covid-delayed 50th reunion. They included Walker, fellow founder Jim Royce, and other Seattle theater luminaries, sans one beloved ensemble member. Renowned actor John Aylward, who had hoped to attend, died on May 16 at age 75.

THEN 2: Actor John Aylward (1948-2022), a founding member of the Empty Space’s ensemble, went on to work extensively in film and television, perhaps most prominently in “ER” and “The West Wing.”

“For John,” memorialized Walker in words that readily apply to the Empty Space itself, “play was always a verb first and a noun second.”


A few photo from the reunion:

NOW 2: At the Empty Space’s 50th Reunion, actor Kevin Loomis holds forth, accompanied by musician/composer John Engerman.
NOW 3: Chanteuse Joanne Klein offers up musical delights.
NOW 4: Space regulars R. Hamilton Wright (left) and Rex McDowall sing “Burnt Angel.”
NOW 5: Singing a showstopper from “They Came from Way Out There,” Jayne Muirhead, Lori Larson, R. Hamilton Wright, and Rex McDowall.

Now & then here and now…