(click to enlarge photos)
The negative for this scene of industrial clutter is marked “Fremont Barn – N.E. Corner, Dec. 11, 1936.” “Barn” is short for “trolley car barn,” that long and well-windowed brick structure that fills the horizon from N. 35th Street on the right to the interrupting house on the left. It was photographed without credit, although most likely by an employee of Seattle’s municipal railways. From mid-block, the prospect looks west through the long block on Fremont’s 35th Street between Evanston and Phinney Avenues.
The featured photo was one of a few taken the December day centering on “barn.” We will follow here with three more.
When it was completed in 1905, the ornate barn, along with the B.F. Day School nearby on Fremont Avenue, was one of the few brick structures in this mill town neighborhood. Inside the barn there were accommodations for the trainmen and also three bays for trolley car repairs. Most of the homes built in the Fremont neighborhood, after 1888 when the lumber mill opened, were modest residences for workers. In 1936 there were sixteen houses on this long block. Now, it seems, only six have endured.
As can be seen in the primary feature photo at the top, between the home and the barn there was room for both a yard of well-packed trollies, and closer to the photographer, an uncovered storage for stacks of what appear to me to be trolley-car-wide blocks of formed concrete. (Perhaps a reader will know and share their use.) With the help of a 1936 aerial photograph, we can see both the stacks of concrete and count a dozen rows of trollies resting on their tracks – spurs off N. 34th Street – in the yard between the barn and the stacks. The twelve tracks were all five cars long, and so this parking lot could accommodate a maximum of 60 trolley cars tightly fit like these.
In 1936 the municipal system ran 410 often-dilapidated electric trolleys over its worn 224 miles of tracks. Leslie Blanchard, Seattle’s trolley historian, described 1936 as “the beginning of one of the most violent and spectacular political free-for-alls ever witnessed in the city of Seattle.” The fight was over whether to keep to the tracks and fix-up the system or convert it entirely to rubber, with busses and trackless trollies. Of course, the latter won, and between 1940 and 1942 the tracks were pulled up and the trollies scrapped. The Fremont Barn was then purchased by the army for wartime storage.
Friday the eleventh of December 1936 is well remembered on both the sentimental and scandalous sides of world history. While the photographer for this Fremont scene was, perhaps, having breakfast, His Royal Highness, the Duke of Windsor, explained to the British Empire by radio from Windsor Castle, that the burden of being king was a “heavy responsibility too great to bear without the help and support of the woman I love.” The trouble, of course, was that “that American woman,” Mrs. Wallace Simpson, was already married.
Anything to add, Paul?
JEAN, as our readers may suspect, we often return to Fremont. Still this week for Ron “EDGE-LINKS” we will restrain ourselves and include only a half-dozen or so. In this conspiracy, for reasons we will make clear below, we have an eye out for the blog you did years ago recording (with whatever Nikon you had at the time) one of the Fremont Solstice Day parades. We will not fail in this. In our several years of producing dorpatsherrardlomont it has been easily the most viewed – or goggled – post we have put up. This shaking of hits has more to do with hirsute than heritage Following the links we will chain a few Fremont strays to this barn. First, the reader is encourage to click on the seven pictured links below. They all include Fremont features and more. Of the seven we have put at the bottom the recent feature on they day the Fremont Dam broke in 1914.