When I first saw this pioneer print pulled from its MOHAI files, I recognized none of it and yet sensed all of it. By the qualities of its housing stock, a hilltop topography that is kind to construction, and the street work, this, I thought, is First Hill. For judging my hunch, I quickly went to the top of Coppin’s water tower where the photographer Arthur Churchill Warner recorded a few clear impressions of that then adolescent neighborhood in 1890 or 91. Of course, I did not actually climb the tower but rather studied the Warner panorama that looks east northeast from high above the intersection of Terry Avenue and Columbia Street.
Warner’s revealing photograph can be found on page 142 of Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill, Historic Seattle’s still new book on the Propriety, Profanity, Pills and Preservation of what we think of as Seattle’s first exclusive neighborhood. However, First Hill was not really so restrictive, and these two residences are proof of its equitable side. While trim and even pleasing, they are still not fancy. In the Warner pan, they can be easily found side-by-side at the northwest corner of Columbia and Boren.
On the left at 1016 Columbia Street is a typical box house of the time, with some trimmings. There were many more examples of modest residences like this in every Seattle neighborhood. Next door at 1020, the three stairways to the three front doors make this row house appear bigger than it is. Its central tower gestures at the grandeur of its neighbors, many of the city’s biggest homes. Within
two blocks are the Lowman, Hanford, Carkeek, Stacy, Lippy and Ranke mansions, and many more were under construction. Of these just noted, only the Stacy mansion at the northeast corner of Boren and Madison survives, as the University Club. By the authority of a King County tax card, the corner row house was razed in 1952, and probably its smaller neighbor, too. The card’s construction date for the row house, 1875 (see above), is almost certainly too early by years.
“Pacific Northwest” readers are encouraged to find a copy of Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill. Well-wrought and well-illustrated (with Jean’s panorama from the Smith Tower on the cover), it is Historic Seattle’s admired study of the diverse history of this neighborhood, which includes among its preserved mansions the Dearborn House, home since 1997 for Historic Seattle.
And here’s a look just around the corner at O’Dea High School:
Anything to add on this beautiful Spring weekend?
Sure Jean, a sight tan on the top of my bald head, and your repeat looking north-northeast from the Coppins Water Tower, which we may decide to insert into the text “proper” above, side by side or following the historical view. And the tower ascends again near the bottom with two more Times clips from former Pacific features. But now we begin with more links pulled by Ron Edge from the archive of those now-then features which we have hither-too scanned, and often used for other of this blog’s Sunday sets.
Judging from Asahel Curtis’s negative number 5479, inscribed at the bottom-right corner, this photograph of the home of Dr. and Mrs. Frank Gardner was taken on or very near 1906, the year which the King County tax records claim it was built. A more likely date for the construction is 1905. On the Society Page for The Seattle Times on March 10, 1905, Betha Gardner – then still more regularly called Mrs. Frank P. Gardner – is credited with hosting in her home, here at the northeast corner of Jefferson Street and Boren Avenue, the annual “at home” meeting for the “ladies of the Sorosis Club.” The Times added that “The subject of the afternoon will be the ‘Religion and Music of Russia.’”
Pennsylvanians Frank and Bertha Gardner first lived on Capitol Hill in a more modest home. (Should you like to check it, you will find it surviving at 1629 13th Avenue.) By First Hill’s often sumptuous standards, their second home was neither small nor grand with ten rooms, five upstairs and five down. But the whole effect was pleasing in its symmetry, especially this west façade facing Boren Avenue, with its elegant but restrained ornamentation. There was nothing here so assertive, for instance, as the central tower on the Granville Haller home, seen peeking around the corner at the left of the Cardner home.
When the Haller home was built at the top of First Hill in 1883-5 at the northeast corner of Minor Avenue and James Street, some of the fir and alder forest that once covered the hill was still standing. While clearing the site, Colonel Haller’s workers uncovered the skeletons of two Native Americans, casualties, perhaps, of the 1856 U.S. Navy’s howitzer bombardments at the hill during what is popularly called the “The Battle of Seattle” in 1856. Known as the “old Indian Fighter,” Haller crassly kept the skulls in his tower for the amusement of the neighborhood’s children.
There is now a fine opportunity to study the diverse history of First Hill with Historic Seattle’s recently published book on the subject, whose title, while long, is both descriptive and pleasing to the ear: Tradition and Change on Seattle’s First Hill, Propriety, Profanity, Pills and Preservation. Both Pill and Profanity have been popular names for Seattle’s First Hill or parts of it, as have Yesler and, more recently, even Goat.
Bertha and Frank shared their comely First Hill home until 1930 when the doctor died at the age of sixty-one. At some time during the 1930s, Bertha was joined by her brother Wilmer Kahle, president of the Crescent Manufacturing Company; following his death in 1943, she sold the house. We learn from her Times obituary of April 10, 1956, that at the time of her death she lived across from the UW campus in the Malloy Apartments on 15th Avenue NE, and that she had been a charter member of the Sorosis Club, and so dedicated to bringing together “representative women in art, literature, science, and kindred spirits.”
Lots to add this week…eh, Paul?
Before we begin, however, I thought I would answer your request for more material with a feat of whimsical legerdemain. As you know, I teach drama and writing at Hillside Student Community. This past Friday, I took a few of my 5th and 6th graders on a field trip to the Woodland Park Zoo and through the miracle of photoshop, converted several into lion cubs.
Your students as metamorphs see wary, but not quite ready to leave the nest for the next step where it will be every cat for him or herself. We do have seven links Jean. Any reader who consults them thoroughly will find within most of the features we have done thru the years on subjects that border Boren. There are more than a dozen of them – unless I am contradicted. At the bottom we will ad a feature done first in 1985 about the Campbell home. With its park-sized front lawn it took the entire north-half of the block on which the Gardners built there home about twenty years after Campbell, a hardware merchant, built his in the mid-1880s. The youngest daughter, Lucy, was one of my earliest mentors on Seattle’s pioneer history.
Back to our regularly scheduled program. Take it away, boys.
When the Marine Hospital opened in 1933 to eighty-four veteran patients, many moved from the Fed’s old hospital in Port Townsend, the new Art Deco high rise on the head of Beacon Hill looked much higherthan its sixteen stories. And from its roof it also “felt” taller, as evidenced by this panorama that looks north over both the
Dearborn Cut (1909-1912) and the Jackson Street Regrade (1907-1909). This hospital observatory afforded this most revealing profile of First Hill. It made it actually look like a hill. Since the early 1960s the developing ditch of the Seattle Freeway, far left
in the “now,” made the western slopes of First Hill more apparent and gave the hill a western border. The slope of its eastern border, here far right, is occupied for the most part by the low-rise structures on the Seattle University campus, east of Broadway.
In 1940, the likely year for this “then,” the skyline of First Hill was scoredwith landmarks that are still standing, although by now most are hidden behind higher structures. These include more apartment buildings and the well-packed Swedish Medical Center campus, which is right-of-center in the “now.” The grandest exception is Harborview Hospital. In the circa 1940 photo its gleaming Art Deco tower stands out, left-of-center. In Jean’s colored “repeat,” Harborview, while half-hidden, still shows its true color, which is like a pale café-latte.
We know the photographer’s primary subject here. It is neither the First Hill horizon nor the man-made valley between First and Beacon Hills. Before the regrading began in 1907, the hills were two parts of the same ridge. Rather, the intended subject is the swath of
open lots and mostly doomed residences that run west to east (left to right) through the center of the subject. Within two years of this recording, a photographer from the Seattle Housing Authority visited the Marine Hospital again and recorded another panorama
with the same frame, but of the completed Yesler Terrace Public Housing. Nearly 700 housing units with their own front yards, new General Electric ranges, free utilities and low rents averaging about $17 a month replaced the former neighborhood of mostly modest Victorian residences..
There are two more panoramas photographed from the Marine Hospital by the Seattle Housing Authority. One shows the Yesler Terrace project completed (included here directly below), and the other, an early record of its construction (placed here directly below). Or dear reader come and see much of this on the big screen at Town Hall this coming Friday evening when Jean and I share illustrated stories on FIRST HILL & BEYOND. Again, this is next Friday evening, October 3. The Hall will also then “unveil” in its lobby our “now and then” exhibit of this and other First Hill subjects.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes. We will start with seventeen links to past features from this blog. As is our way, some we will have shown earlier in support of some subject or other. Ordinarily these links, of course, hold links within. And so on and on. For the most part they are relevant to the neighborhoods of the north end of Beacon Hill and the south end of First Hill, and the ridge/regrade that shares them. The first linked feature looks familiar because it repeats, far left, the Rininger Home at the northwest corner of Columbia and Summit, although at the time we submitted this feature to Pacific Northwest Magazine, now thirteen years ago, we knew nothing about its medical motives. We concentrated then on the Otis Hotel on the right. The next link is packed with relevance, built about a rare photo of a pioneer home near the future Deaborn Street on the slop leading up to the ridge that included both First and Beacon Hill before much of it was lowered with the combined cuttings of the Jackson Street Regrade and the Dearbort Cut. The third link uses the Sprague Hotel on Yesler Way to lead into a small survey of buildings in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood that were removed because of it. Some of them were surely worth saving and/or moving. Links sixteen and seventeen, the last two, give Jean and I an opportunity to first wish you a too early Seasons Greetings and second to promote the First Hill lecture we are giving at Town Hall this coming Friday Evening – early. It is cheap – $5 – and the title is FIRST HILL & BEYOND. (The title suggests more hills.)
Thanks again and again – seventeen times – to Ron Edge for finding and putting these “associates” up.
THE MARINE HOSPITAL
The Feature above was pulled from Pacific Magazine for Nov. 13, 1994. Perhaps the older of you dear readers will share some sympathy with me when I confess that those twenty years went by far too fast. “It doesn’t seem possible” that I took the “now” for this – printed directly below – so long ago. I can still smell the pine cones and feel the breeze off the Bay.
Built in 1887 by Sarah and Dr. Thomas Minor, it was one the earliest grand homes built on First Hill. Painted a green so dark it was “almost black,” the red trim contrasted nicely. Interrupted by tragedy, the Minors’ stay there was brief. Less than three years after the family moved into their mansion, the doctor drowned off Whidbey Island while hunting with two friends, who also perished.
In 1891 when John and Angela Collins became the new residents, it was still addressed 702 12th Avenue, but the street was soon renamed Minor Avenue. Both Thomas Minor and John Collins served as Seattle mayors: Collins first in 1873 as a dedicated Democrat, and Minor in 1887, a resolute Republican. Earlier Minor had moved his family to Seattle from Port Townsend where he was also once mayor.
If one’s attentions were devoted to this big home’s pioneer origins, then one may still wish to call it the Minor Home. If, however, one concentrates on the roll of significant events that occurred here, then it is the Collins home, and perhaps even the Angela Collins home. Angela was the second wife of the bold Irishman John Collins. They were married in 1877, after the locally famous widower of forty-two courted and won eighteen-year-old Angela Burdett Jackling.
Widowed in 1903, Angela Collins gave her remaining forty-four years to nourishing Seattle society, the “higher” parts of it here on the summit of First Hill. Her work was distinguished by programs and parties, some in the garden. To name a few, Angela was a leader in the Garden Club, the Music and Art Foundation, and the Sunset Club, of which she and, later, her younger daughter Catherine, served as presidents. Angela was an effective campaigner, raising funds for the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and the Junior League. The League’s first meetings were held in the Collins home.
John and Angela had four children and all of them excelled. For example, Bertrand, the younger son, was a popular novelist famous here for his exploring wit. In 1946, daughter Catherine was given the title “Seattle’s First Lady of the Year,” mostly for her work with charities. Within a year, her mother Angela died after eighty-eight productive years, most of them at this corner. Her obituary, which appeared in the Seattle Times for September 21,1947, concluded, “From her childhood, Mrs. Collins was a brilliant figure in the social history of the city.”
Anything to add, Paul? JEAN, First below with Ron Edge’s attentions are two links to related features that we return to again. Following that a few local reminders of the Minor and Collins names. Other extras were included above within this feature’s primary text.