There’s a popular and abiding Ballardian legend that when still young and independent of Seattle, the “shingle capitol of the world” had as many bars as churches – or, alternately, as many churches as bars. Most of the dives were on Ballard Avenue, but churches seemed to be on every Ballard block.
This week’s historical photograph was shared by Kristine Leander, the Executive Director of the local Swedish Club. It is but one print of about ninety included in a large album of subjects recorded mostly in the 1920s by Klaes Nordquist, a professional photographer with studios both downtown and on Market Street in Ballard. Many of the prints are of Swedish subjects, such as the Swedish Hospital, the Swedish Business Men’s Association posing at Snoqualmie Falls Lodge – with women – and this Baptist church.
When Director Leander and I first thumbed through the album I was startled by the size of this church and the sinking sense that in spite of having an enduring memory for churches, especially ones with soaring towers, and having bumped about Ballard for years, still I did not know it. However, the name came quickly with the help of magnification and Nordquist’s fine grain print. On the reader board to the right of the smaller door, far-right, the name, Ballard Swedish Baptist Church can be read.
When the tall church was going up (for $20,000) in 1910 on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street, the “superstructure” was touted as the “second largest in the state of Washington.” While we may doubt that claim, we are still impressed. In addition to the hundred-foot tower, the sanctuary featured a 900-seat auditorium for the then 200 ambitious and hopeful members of a different congregation, the Second Baptist Church. The Swedish Baptists were meeting two blocks south in a modest timber church built in 1904 at NW 61st Street. Two years after Second Baptist’s dedication of their oversized sanctuary, the congregation was still struggling to pay the mortgage. In three years more they swapped this landmark, still with its tower intact, on 63rd with the flourishing Swedes on 61st. The Swedes , of course, also assumed the debt on the house of worship for which they traded.
In the mid-1920s the church’s tradition of scheduling the Swedish service on Sunday mornings and the English for the evenings was reversed. Of course, by then the church families were raising kids routinely using English in the public schools, and probably at home as well. According to Don Duncan, minister at Ballard Baptist since 1981, “Swedish” was excused from the name in 1934. By the memory of Alice Anderson, the oldest member of Ballard Baptist, the ornate top of the tower was removed after it was damaged in the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.
I’ll lead off by throwing down a couple of interior photos.
Then I’ll up the ante with a shot of the spare church on 61st!
Call, raise, or fold, fellahs?
Jean and Dear Readers. While the former – Jean, for himself and his family – is off to the Islands for a vacation, the latter – Ron and I, while holding to the mainland and working for the readers, will first put up eight or nine links to past Ballard subjects – Ballard and Phinney Ridge. Surely those are not all we have, even of those cozy in our scanned library. Like those in past blog features, these nine will proliferate with their own links and so on and on. We will follow these with a few features so distant (to the rear or ago) that until now they have not made it into this useful, that is scanned, library. All of it will be concluded first with a 1919 clipping of a few church alternatives, and last with a 2006 photograph of three members of the Ballard Sedentary Marching Band, standing in Meridian Park, ca. 2008, and so not in Ballard but rather here in Wallingford, the Gateway to Ballard. And that’s it.
FOUR MORE CHURCHES RELATED EITHER TO BALLARD OR SWEDES
BALLARD BRIDGE – FIRST AND LAST TRACK-BOUND TROLLEYS
NOW: On September 17th last Jean Sherrard took this “repeat” with the 2 Bit Saloon on the far left. It was the last day and night for the tavern, which timed its finale with that month’s Backfire Motorcycle Night in Ballard.
We had two “thens” to choose from, and here follows the alternative.
This week we look south-southeast into a somewhat befuddling Ballard intersection where Leary Way, before curving to the east and ultimately heading for Fremont, meets 17th Avenue. N.W. and N.W. 48th Street. The photographer of this picture was working for the Foster and Kleiser billboard company, whose negatives we have used before, and will surely many times to come, the fates willing. So the intended subjects were the big signs on the far side of the curving Leary Way.
On the left of the featured photo at the top, between the Mobilgas flying horse (named Pegasus by the ancient Greeks) and the OK Texaco service station, 17th Avenue N.W. heads north. In the early 1890s, 17th was the eastern border for Gilman Park, an early name for Ballard. In 1936, the likely date of the photo, this intersection was obviously devoted to filling stations, billboards and power poles. The pavement, laid in 1930, is fairly fresh. Unlike the many brick
landmarks on Ballard Avenue, one block to the west, the buildings along Leary Way were mostly one- and two-story commercial clapboards and manufacturing sheds, like the one behind the billboards at the scene’s center, again, in the featured photo on top. (Here we will insert three billboard photos taken on Leary Way in the three block run between N. W. Dock Place and Market Street. (They do not all look in the same direction.)
Leary Way was named for Seattle capitalist John Leary, who was the first president of the West Coast Improvement Company (WCIC), which through the 1890s shaped Ballard into the “Shingle Capitol of the World.” Writing in 1900, pioneer Seattle historian Thomas Prosch called it the “most successful” real estate enterprise connected to Seattle.The town was named for Capt. William Rankin Ballard, who with Leary was one of the WCIC’s principal developers. Ballard explained that in the first three months of the township venture he made 300 percent profit on the property that he had earlier “won” as a booby price in a “heads or tails” gamble with a friend. Ballard did not live in Ballard, but recounted this from his First Hill mansion.
Behind the photographer of the featured photo at the top, the first Ballard street grid, a triangle of about a dozen blocks south of Market Street and west of 17th Avenue N.W., is aligned to the nearby Salmon Bay shoreline. Otherwise, this rapidly growing, confident and, beginning in 1890, incorporated suburb followed the American practice – often written as law – of laying streets in conformity to the compass.
On Leary Way, another disruption of the greater Ballard grid follows soon after Leary passes east under the north approach to the Ballard Bridge. (The bridge’s trusses appear at the far-right.) At 11th Avenue N.W., Leary Way turns to the southeast cutting the shortest
possible route to Fremont through a somewhat treeless neighborhood of grid-conforming streets, snuggly lined with well-tended workers’ homes. There are cherished alternative names for this neighborhood just east of Ballard or just west of Fremont. It is sometimes called Ballmont, and other times, Freelard. Of course, both are good-natured popular names meant to calm anxieties along a border between neighbors.
Anything to add, Paul? Pro forma, Jean. First a few links pulled by Ron Edge from past features followed by a stand-alone but not forlorn feature from the neighborhood: its Carnegie Library. By this time some of the Edge Links will surely have been employed in this blog before, repetitions (we repeat) we are proud of and play like musical motifs in different contexts or on different staffs. Remembering my mom – again again – “Repetition is the mother of all learning.” Thank’s mom.
Two sensational news photographs appear on the front page of the Friday, March 13, 1914, issue of The Seattle Times. One is of the historic and deadly Missouri Athletic Club fire in St. Louis. The other from Portland, Oregon, shows a “flame-wrapped” steam schooner drifting along the docks on the Willamette River “starting a new blaze at every place she bumped.” Also sensational, standing above it all, the day’s headline reads FREMONT BRIDGE DESTROYED: Flood Threatened By Breaking Of Lake Union Dam.
[CLICK to ENLARGE]
Soon after the Fremont dam, constructed to control the level of Lake Union, broke in the early afternoon, the bridge did too. It was a little late for The Times to get a picture in that day’s evening addition. However, over the weekend, The Times featured several pictures of the flood, including one that was very similar to the historical photo used here. Both photographers stood precariously close to the open center section of the Fremont Bridge that was swept away towards Ballard about two hours after the dam’s collapse. The Times 1914 photo was taken later than this one, for in the newspaper’s illustration the water level is lower and the dam’s surviving wing gate pilings, also seen here, stand out more. Employed by the city’s public works department, “our” photographer took several shots of the washout and its unsettling effects.
During its nearly day-long outpouring, Lake Union dropped about nine feet. Beside the bridge, at the lake’s north end the worst damage was to the railroad trestle along the north shore. At the south end of the lake the greatest casualty was the big new dock built by the then thirty-year-old Brace and Hergert lumber mill. Stacked with lumber, the exposed pilings supporting the dock gave way early Saturday morning. Nearby, on the lake’s east shore, those among the “houseboat colonists” who had dared to keep to their floating homes were awakened by the crash. By noon the houseboats tied to the shore were resting on the lake’s bottom at an angle that was good only for reading in bed. Also by noon on Saturday it was clear that Ballard would not be washed away.
Fortunately for the several trolley lines that served Fremont, Wallingford, and Green Lake, as well as the interurban to Everett, the long temporary trestle crossing from Westlake to Stone Way, seen here in part on the right, did not collapse. Traffic that normally crossed at Fremont was redirected there by Carl Signor, an alert neighbor with a hay, grain and flour store located near the south end of the Fremont Bridge. The bridge collapsed soon after Signor’s timely signal.
Much to add this week, Paul? Indeed, Jean and starting with an Edge-link to an opening day subject for the Fremont Bascule Bridge, followed by another beginning with the odd story of a crashed trolley in Fremont. And following these pulls by Ron Edge, we will string out a variety of photos of the Fremont Bridge thru time and from different prospects, beginning with a few from Queen Anne Hill. This chain will also feature a few construction shots of the bascule bridge, which is, of course, the one we still cross. We hope to be able to date them all – or nearly.
I have pulled this from SEATTLE NOW & THEN VOL. 1, which was first published in 1984 and then reprinted about three times. I lived off it. Hopefully the text is accurate. On rereading old features I have found a few bloopers, I confess. Usually mistakes of directions. Still, question authority. This appeared first in the Feb. 12, 1984 issue of Pacific Magazine.
[CLICK to Enlarge and make it readable – we hope.]
The FREMONT BRIDGE from QUEEN ANNE HILL
“THE BUSIEST BASCULE IN THE U.S.A.”
FREMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
If you find Fremont history alluring, as do I, you may want to join the Fremont Historical Society. I took this portrait of its first members at its first meeting in the summer of 2004. They are, left to right: Julie Pheasant-Albright, Audrey LIvermore, Roger Wheeler, Paul Fellows, Helen Divjak, Heather McAuliffe, and Carol Tobin. The second picture below it was taken within a year (or so) at another FHS meeting, that in the Fremont Library. At the bottom, the front page for the FHS web is added to help with your perhaps first search into Fremont history: finding and contacting the society.
UNDER THE BRIDGE, JUNE 15, 1917 QUIZ. Which end?
* CORRECTION: The caption to the topmost photo – the primary one for the feature – incorrectly described it as looking northwest. Actually, it looks northeast or to make a finer point of it, east-northeast. Although I knew the correct direction I wrote it wrong and the regrettable truth is that I am too often using left for right and north for south and so on and on. It might be that in this week’s blog, through its many pictures with directions, I have done this stupidly more than once. My editor at the Times has complained to me more than once about this. However, one direction I always get correct is up and down, and for that exception I am proud. When readers correct my either dyslexic or careless/spaced-out mistakes they sometimes do it with such cosmological concern that it would seem for them that the world would sit askew until my directional malaise is twisted back to health. And now once more, and something like Atlas, I have leveraged the world back it its original pose with the north pole pointing to heaven and Wallingford, where I live, northeast of Fremont and much else.