For Jean Sherrard to record his repeat of George Moore’s historical portrait of Mercy and William Boone’s big home required both prudence and pluck. The latter took Jean to the edge of the concrete retaining wall that rises at least forty feet above the north-bound lanes of the Interstate Five Freeway. But it was prudence that kept him from leaning over the edge to reach closer to the prospect that George Moore took in the early 1890s. Both the home site and Moore’s position on Alder are now up in the air.
The Boone home was constructed at the northwest corner of 7th Avenue and Alder Street in 1885. Boone was almost certainly the architect. During the summer of 1886, The Post-Intelligencer reports in its popular “Brevities” section that the fifty-four year old architect, “while working on his residence yesterday, fell from a ladder and sustained severe bruises about the legs. His injuries are not considered serious.”
Without committing itself to “First Hill,” the name with which we are accustomed, the January 29, 1886, issue of The Post-Intelligencer referred to the Boone residence as one of the “new buildings on the hill top.” Well into the 1890s the more popular name for this most forward edge of the first hill behind the waterfront was Yesler Hill. A name used in honor of Seattle’s pioneer industrialist – and employer – Henry Yesler. From the time he built his first steam saw mill in 1852-3, it was assumed that he would eventually clear the hill of its timber.
Sometime after the 1890-91 construction of the King County Courthouse, across 7th Avenue from the Boone home, a more playful place name, Profanity Hill, was inspired by the language used by lawyers and litigants who climbed the hill to deny and confess in the halls and chambers of the Courthouse.
Married in California in 1871, William, a Pennsylvanian, and Mercie, originally from New York, came to Seattle for good in 1882. That year he designed the landmark Yesler-Leary Building in Pioneer Square. Like the Toklas and Singerman Department Store (Boone’s design from 1887), it did not survive the city’s Great Fire of 1889. The mansion by Boone and partner then, the Californian George C. Meeker, was designed for Henry and Sara Yesler in the mid-80s just survived the greater fire ’89, but not its own on the morning of New Year’s Day, 1901. A few of Boone’s landmarks that are still remembered, but lost, are Central School, Broadway High School, and the New York Block.
William died in 1921 one year before his New York Block was razed for another and greater of the terra-cotta buildings that were then favored for the business district. Mercie died in 1923. They were both ninety-one years old. Although without children, Mercie was a leader in local charities, including the Seattle Children’s Home, whose first quarters her husband designed.
[We’ll add pictures of the first and second quarters for the Children’s Home. Most likely it it the first of these that Boone designed – and yet perhaps both. The first was built on property at the southwest corner of Harrison and 4th Ave. N., that was given and chosen by David and Louisa Denny from their donation claim. It is now part of Seattle Center. The second and grander home is on Queen Anne Hill property that is still home for the charity, although now in a newer plant. I worked there in 1966 as a house parent – the most demanding job I ever had. It soon turned me to painting canvases – and houses. ]
Just paused for a bite in the I.D. and looked down King Street at our very own not-so-leaning tower with the Olympics looming behind.
I had to include a detail from the clock tower – note the support struts in the windows below (for an interior, flip down through this post from the past).
Anything to add, lads? Sure Jean but first such a luxurious recording or our tower. It takes more than the right gear, light, atmosphere and mobility to record such a shot, it also requires meditation on that golden bar that mysteriously (we agreed) cuts through the tower and illuminates it’s golden clockworks, and so reminds us – some of us – that time is precious and we had better leave this scene and get with it. Here at my desk I have a bowl of Narcissus Daffodils for sniffing the early Spring – while writing.
Again, here are a few relevant Edge-links (named for Ron Edge who pulled and grouped them). Open these links and you will surely find other features with their own lists of relevant links and those links with theirs. The lead photo for the top link looks from the west side of 7th Avenue (like Boone’s home) north across Jefferson Street, or almost two blocks north of the Boones. The next link of the Sprague Hotel at Yesler and Spruce is about two blocks south of the Boones. And, again, so on.
OTHER BOONE DESIGNS
BEFORE THE BOONES and AFTER
Now up the stairs to Nighty-bears – leaving proof-reading until tomorrow. It’s nearly 3am.