Englishman Charles Louch first crossed the Seattle waterfront, it seems, in 1885, and for many reasons, including the “bag of money” he reportedly carried, prospered and stayed for eighteen years. He returned to England in 1903 with enough American assets to purchase an estate near Southhampton, which he shared with his two single sisters.
Louch first opened a stand for “fancy fruits” on the east side of Front Street (First Avenue) but soon expanded his fare to the “cigars, tobacco, groceries and provisions” that are indicated on the sign above his front door located on the third lot north of Union Street. It is these “groceries and provisions” that are first noted in the 1885-86 Polk City Directory, where Louch is listed as one of twenty-two Seattle grocers.
In the Polk’s citizen section, Louch is recorded as living at the same address, almost surely in the back of the store. Based on the evidence provided by the 1888 Sanborn real estate map, Louch later installed both a “Sausage Room” and a “Smoke House” in his former living quarters. Louch’s ‘1888 Brand’ smoked hams were a long-time favorite and not just locally. During the Alaska Gold Rush, beginning in the late 1890s, many of the hams were shipped north.
In 1888 Louch began promoting his hams by distributing to his customers a mounted photograph of his store, as seen from an upper window of a nearby building at Front and Pike. This second photo featured a panorama of Seattle rising above a roof top sign reading “Chas Louch” and running at a right angle to Front Street. Set on the crest of the roof, the corner of that sign is barely seen here above the “cigars and tobacco” sign that faces the street.
The city’s great fire of 1889 was also good to Louch and his hams and sausages. As the fire moved north up the waterfront and Front Street it was stopped less than two blocks south of Louch’s grocery. About one-half of the 36 groceries listed in the year’s city directory we consumed. Also in 1889 Louch moved into a mansion-sized Beacon Hill home he had built on Othello Avenue overlooking Rainier Valley.
After partnering in 1889 with M.B. Augustine, a traveling food salesman from Nevada, the ambitious pair moved into the much grander post-fire quarters of the Colman Building, (still at First Avenue and Columbia Street.) There they became famous for their “upscale” specialty foods and the dozen wagons needed to make free deliveries throughout the city. After Louch returned to England, Augustine took on a new partner and the company was renamed Augustine and Kyer. It grew to five locations, with the last one, in the University District, holding on through the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Anything to add, boys? Yes Jean, more of the neighborhood and also a look up Front Street from Pioneer Square, which is the second Edge-Link that Ron has put in place immediately below. After Ron’s links we’ll pull a few clips from past “now and then” features. They are also from the neighborhood. Well Jean, you know this well, for this week it was you who did the scanning of the clips having nearly completed your inventory of all 1700-plus features on the way to publishing later this year another collection – which might even be permitted the cheesy title “100 Best.”
EIGHT PAGES from the AUGUSTINE & KYER BULLETIN, from 1912. click to enlarge
Through the late 1880s this east side of First Avenue – its was still called Front Street then — was distinguished by George Frye’s Opera House (1884-85). This grand pioneer landmark filled the southern half of the block until June 6, 1889, when Seattle’s Great Fire reduced it to ashes. While these were still cooling, Frye hired John Nestor, an Irish-born architect who had designed his Opera House, to prepare drawings for the Stevens Hotel, which we see here also at the south end of the block, which is the northeast corner of First Avenue and Marion Street.
Next door to the north, the Palace Hotel, with 125 guest rooms, opened on the Fourteenth of April, 1903. The owners announced that it was “Artistically decorated and comfortably furnished, and equipped with every modern convenience.” They listed “elevators, electric lights, call bells and rooms with baths.” The owners boasted that their hotel had the “finest commercial sample rooms in the city, which makes it an ideal hotel for commercial travelers.” In the spring of 1905, the most northerly of the hotel’s three storefronts was taken by Burt and Packard’s “Korrect Shape” shoe store. For $3.50 one could purchase a pair of what the partnering cobblers advertised as “the only patent leather shoe that’s warranted.” Also that year, the New German Bakery moved in next door beneath the Star Theatre, which had recently changed its name from Alcazar to Star.
On February 21, 1905, The Seattle Times printed “Vaudeville at the Star,” a wonderfully revealing review of the Star’s opening. “Vaudeville as given at the 10-cent theatre may not be high art, but it is certainly popular art . . . The performance started exactly at the appointed time, but long before that a squad of policeman had to make passage ways through the crowd of people on Madison Street.”
The hour-and-a-half performance consisted of nine acts, and The Times named them all. “Claude Rampf led off with some juggling on the slack wire. Richard Burton followed with illustrated songs. Third came the Margesons in a comedy sketch, a little boy proving a clever dancer. Fourth were the dwarfs, Washer Brothers, who boxed four rounds. They were followed by Daisy Vernon, who sang in Japanese costume, followed by Handsen and Draw, a comedy sketch team, followed by Wilson and Wilson, consisting of a baritone singer and a negro comedian, and then by the lead liner, Mme Ziska, the fire dancer. The performance concluded with several sets of moving pictures.”
Until it went dark in 1967, the venue at the southeast corner of First and Madison had many names. In addition to the Alcazar and the Star, it had been called the State Ritz, the Gaiety, the Oak, the State, the Olympic, the Tivoli, and in its last incarnation as a home for burlesque and sometimes experimental films, the Rivoli.
Anything to add, Paul? Yup and again with help from Ron Edge who has attached the links below for readers’ ready clicking. The four chosen are, for the most part, from the neighborhood. Following those we will put up three or four other relevant features and conclude with a small array of other state landmarks or “icons” (and how I dislike using that by now tired term, but I’m in a hurry) including James Stevens, the wit who revived and put to good order the Paul Bunyan tales. We like him so much, we have put Stevens next above, on top of Ron’s links.
We might have begun this little photo essay with a portrait of the namesake, Washington Territory’s first governor, Isaac Stevens, but chose instead a landmark on Stevens Pass (named for the Gov), the Wayside Chapel. Lawton Gowey, again, took this slide. We do not know if the chapel has survived the wages of sin and elements.
ABOVE, Pickett’s record of the Stevens Pass summit with Cowboy Mountain on the horizon, and BELOW, Jean Sherrard’s repeat, which appeared first in our book WASHINGTON THEN AND NOW.
ABOVE and BELOW: Stevens School in Wenatchee. In the “now” the school has been replaced by a federal building. (This too appears in WASHINGTON THEN and NOW)
On Alki Point, we’ve been told, across Stevens Street from what is now the Log Cabin Museum, a fitted tent for summer recreations at the beach, and now a street of modest homes.
I think it likely that this candid photo of a lone pedestrian on a bright sidewalk was snapped to show off the new streetlights. Recorded by a municipal photographer, the view looks north on First Avenue from its southeast corner with Virginia Street. The city’s first ornamental light standards, of City Light’s own design, were introduced in 1909-10, and on Seattle’s busiest streets featured five-ball clusters like these. Here the elegance of the new lights is interrupted by the somewhat comedic counterpoint of older and much taller power poles – all in the name of progress.
This neighborhood was sometimes named North Seattle on early maps, but more popularly it was also called Belltown, for the family that first claimed and developed it. Like many of the first settlers, William and Sarah Ann Bell kept two homes, one in the platted village that was growing to the sides of Pioneer Square and Henry Yesler’s sawmill, and the other on their claim, in order to “prove” it. (Virginia Street was named for their long-lived third daughter, Mary Virginia,1847-1931).
Seattle’s first major public work was the 1876 regrading of Front Street (First Avenue) between Pioneer Square and Pike Street. Soon after it continued with an improved path over the western side of Denny Hill, meant to help the Bells develop their claim. In 1884, First Avenue was lowered and improved north of Pike Street with a cut that allowed the community’s then new horse-drawn street railway to continue north to Belltown and beyond, as far as the lower Queen Anne Neighborhood. Then in 1898-99, this cut was deepened to the grade we see here, leaving a cliff along the east side of First Avenue.
In 1903 the earnest (and long) razing of Denny Hill began by moving that cliff to the east side of Second Avenue. By 1911 the regrading reached the east side of Fifth Avenue with another cliff, and there it rested for seventeen years.
While construction of the brick Hotel Ridpath, center-right in the featured subject at the top, waited for the cliff to be pushed east to Second Avenue, the ornate clapboard Troy Hotel across the street, far left, was built soon after the 1898-99 regrade. The Troy survived into at least the late 1940s. The Ridpath, long since renamed the Preston, I remember almost like yesterday.
In the featured photograph from about 1910, First Avenue’s Belltown blocks were mostly given to hotels and shops and a few vacant lots. Some of the latter were fitted with elaborate billboards, like the one on the right, which is stacked with exotic murals promoting popular habits, like vaudeville, cigarettes and chewing gum.
WEB EXTRAS (featuring story and song!)
Paul, I know you and Ron have much to add. Please do so, but let me interject a touch of Public Relations for our annual Town Hall program ‘A Rogue’s Christmas‘.
As you well know, this Sunday at 2 PM, you and I, Marianne Owen and Randy Hoffmeyer, will be reading stories and poems from E.B. White, Nabokov, Ken Kesey, and much more, including original music by Pineola, for this event – the eighth we’ve presented in collaboration with ACT Theatre. Join us for an antidotal and deliciously subversive holiday treat!
I’ll be there Jean. Remember you are picking me up. Here, repeating our by now weekly path, are a few relevant past features pulled and placed by Ron Edge. Ron might also come to the Rogue’s show. He took his then 96-year old mother last year.
While Seattle was building long piers with landmark towers on the central waterfront and first staging Golden Potlatches, the week-long summer festivals that began in 1911, on city streets, an alert and now nameless photographer produced a collection of sharp negatives enamored with schooners, steamers and Potlatch parade floats.
The window shot at the top, however, is unique for her or him. From the northwest corner of First Ave. N. and Denny Way, the subject looks southeast from a fourth floor window – perhaps the photographer’s apartment.
The Regent Apartments were built in 1908. From the prospect, here at the top, one got an unimpeded view of the razing of Denny Hill for the Denny Regrade until 1910, when the Raymond Apartments, whose rear wall is seen here kitty-corner and beyond the billboards, opened its 37 two-room units to renters. The Regent was considerably larger with 59 units. These two apartment houses were part of the earliest brick reconstruction of this “North Seattle” neighborhood that had been swiftly built of wood during Seattle’s first boom decades of the 1880s and 1890s.
The Regent’s managers did not promote this view south into the business district but rather that to the west. A Dec. 15, 1912, classified ad for the Regent reads, “Commanding a view of the Sound and being within easy walking distance of the city, or excellent car service, this building is exceptionally well located. The apartments are first class and modern in every respect. Three rooms at $15 and $20. Four rooms, $27.50 and $30.”
In 1925, after the apartments were sold to a San Francisco investor for “a consideration of $110,000,” the name was changed to the Arkona. This was short-lived. After John and Winifred Paul purchased the Arkona Apartments in 1927 for $150,000, they whimsically changed its name to Pauleze. Winifred died there in 1932, but Paul continued living in and managing their apartment house until 1957, when he too died, but not the punning name. It remained the Pauleze until the late 1970s, when, for reasons we have not found, the name Arkona Apartments was revived.
In the mid-1980s, with the help of Dave Osterberg, a friend who was then the development manager for Environmental Works, acting as guide for the transfer, the collection of negatives of which this subject was one, “came home” to Seattle from the Museum of North Idaho. With a donation to the museum from Ivar Haglund, the negatives were purchased for the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.
Anything to add, dear Paul? At first – and perhaps last – look Ron and I have found a dozen links to past features, all from within the still brief life of this blog: a few years. They are packed with Queen Anne – both upper and lower – history.
The first of these twelve includes brief illustrated essays on sever other Seattle apartment houses, including the Raymond, which is the pie-shaped brick apartment at the corner of Warren and First that partially blocks the view from our window above into both the regrade and the central business district. Following the links I’ll hang a some more images from the neighborhood, either before climbing to nighty-bears, or tomorrow. Meanwhile there is enough included in the dozen links below to keep one engaged for a long as it once upon a time took one to sit thru “Meet the Press.”
Here, for the third week running, we belatedly thank Frank Shaw for another cityscape he chose to record with his Hasselblad camera on one of his winter walks in 1961. Standing off the curb of First Avenue South on the evidently idle Sunday of February 26, Shaw aimed north from Main Street through the two blocks that were for Seattle’s first half-century the principal commercial strip for this ambitious town. Commercial Street, not First Avenue South, was its name until the city’s “Great Fire” of June 6, 1889. Following that destruction, some of the avenues in the burned district were widened and here south of First Avenue the descriptive name “Commercial” was abandoned for the commonplace First Avenue.
On this Sunday in February, Shaw could safely step from the curb during his hometown sight seeing. For his repeat Jean Sherrard made the prudent choice of standing on the planted median strip. This landscaping was one of the charmed improvements made later on First South during the polished restoration of Seattle’s Pioneer Square Historic district – about twenty blocks of it.
Standing at the center of First Avenue South also allowed Jean to show us the sandblasted vitality of those enduring landmarks that stand to both sides of the historic street. What Shaw saw in 1961 was brick walls slathered with carbon grime and cosmetic colors and the often neon names of the street’s many taverns, single room occupancy hotels, hardware stores, loan-pawn shops, cheap-suits shops, and a few missions.
Judging from my familiarity with his many photographs, I’m confident that Frank Shaw delighted in this subject’s primary tension – that between this historic street of worn landmarks and the nearly new Norton Building (1959), which fills the center of this cityscape. Here, with its glass curtain walls, is Seattle’s first oversized demonstration of austere international modernity looming above this worn (but not worn out) old town neighborhood like a lower court judge with clean fingernails looking down from his high bench at the morning line-up of drunks, pickers and survival improvisators.
Now, a half-century later, we know the verdict. First Avenue South and many of its neighbors were saved. A mix of heroic forces for historic preservation had it over the cadre of Seattle politicians and developers who proposed razing both our Pioneer Square neighborhood and our community market at Pike Place in the name of “urban renewal.” They envisioned mostly more Nortons and convenient parking lots. And Frank Shaw would be there through it all recording many of the heartening victories for preservation.
This week, extras will run late, we fear. We’re engineering a switch to new servers and expect several bumps along the way.
Nevertheless, one ‘Where’s Waldo’ treat: for the eagle-eyed, spot friend of the column, John Siscoe, poised at the street corner in the ‘Now’ photo, only a few feet from the doorway of his delightful Globe Bookstore.
That’s it for now. But we’ll be back on a new server next week (cross our fingers).