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
While none of the names for this team and the driver of this U.S. Post wagon are known, the intersection is. The view looks east-southeast on Marion Street and across Western Avenue, in about 1903, to a three-story stone structure advertising the Seattle Hardware Company. (The business was so prosperous that it required an 1100-page hard-bound catalog to cover its inventory.) James Colman built the rustic stone structure across narrow Post Alley from his Colman Building, and named it, perhaps predictably, the Colman Annex. The Puget Sound News Company, a retailer of stationary, books and periodicals, was the Annex’s first tenant. The hardware store soon followed, the tenant until 1906 when the Imperial Candy Company moved in after Seattle Hardware moved to its own new home at First Ave. S. and King Street. With its popular Societe Chocolates, Imperial became the Colman Annex’s most well-known and abiding tenant.
After the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, most of the streets between Yesler Way and Madison were extended east into Elliott Bay, as far as the fire’s dumped rubble would support them. Soon both Post Alley and Western Avenue were extended off-shore and between the streets on rows of pilings driven into the tideflats. More than pilings, heavy stone and/or brick structures like the Annex also needed a hard packing of earth for their foundations. Colman built his Annex from stone delivered around the Horn that was intended for a new central post office at Third and Union, but the stone was rejected as too soft for a government building. Colman got it cheap.
We’ll note that this “studio” location for a mail wagon’s portrait has a fine coincidence. Arthur Denny, the city’s first postmaster, built his family’s cabin two short blocks to the east of this intersection, at the northeast corner of First Avenue (originally Front Street) and Marion Street. It was also the first Post Office. The party of pioneers led by the Dennys, Bells and Borens had moved over from Alki Point early in 1852 to mark their claims. The first mail to arrive in Seattle came later that year by canoe from Olympia. Robert Moxlie, the mailman, may have paddled his dugout through this intersection. The future foot of Marion Street was a low point on the beach where it was easy to step ashore. When Arthur and David Denny’s parents later joined them from Oregon, they built their home at the southeast corner of Union Street and Third Avenue. In 1908 the new Post Office and Federal Building opened on that corner. It was made of nearby Chuckanut sandstone, apparently harder stuff than that salvaged by James Colman.
The Polson Implement Hardware Company, far-right, prospered by facing the Great Northern Railroad’s tracks on Railroad Avenue, here out-of-frame. Established in 1892, Polson sent its farm machinery throughout the west by rail. By 1906, the year this rudimentary structure of corrugated iron was replaced with the brick building on the right in our “now,” Polson had moved south to another train-serviced warehouse on the tideflats.
[DISREGARD the video order DIRECTLY above. I’ve changed my box from the University District to Wallingford where it is Box 31636, which I must right down for I have had a hard time memorizing it. ]
Anything to add, history hucksters? Hubba-hubba-hubba Yes Jean, and once again Ron starts it by rolling out some relevant links. Please Click Them.
To be continued sometimes on Sunday, March 8 . . .
This quintet of front doors, beneath a central tower shaped like a bell and a mansard roof that billows like a skirt in a breeze, was long claimed to be Seattle’s first apartment house. (It might, however, be better to call these row houses, each with its own front door.) The group was built at the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Marion Street in 1883*, a busy year in which Seattle also acquired street numbers and fifty-nine new neighborhood additions. It was also easily the largest city in the territory, with a census count that year of 6645 over Tacoma’s 3108, Port Townsend’s 1300 and the 1169 living in Spokane.
* We have learned in the first hour of posting this blog that it also slogs. The date of construction is off. First Dennis Andersen, the regional authority on architectural history, sends from Portland this letter to me here in my Wallingford basement. Dennis writes “Great image of the Stetson-Post townhouse row! But perhaps a small edit for the date, from the Seattle PI. ‘July 30, 1881, p.3 col 1: ‘Moving in. The resident block of Stetson and Post, on Second Street, is now ready for occupancy. Mr. Post’s family have moved into the building on the south. Governor Ferry’s family have got the carpets down and are preparing to move into the one selected by them. The finishing touches are being put on the other three, and they will be occupied soon’.” Thanks again, Dennis. Next, Ron Edge (who also put up the links below, most of them on row housing ) found another PI citation in the National Archives, this one from September 29, 1880, and we attach it directly below. Thanks again, Ron.
Both “Stetson & Post Block” and “French Row Dwellings” are hand-written across the structure’s footprint in the 1884 Sanborn real estate map. It is named for its builders, George W. Stetson and John J. Post. Renting a shed on Henry Yesler’s wharf in 1875, and using Yesler’s hand-me-down boiler, the partners first constructed a gristmill for grinding grain into feed and flour, but soon switched to
making doors and window sashes. By 1883 they had the largest lumber mill over the tideflats then still south of King Street. The Stetson & Post mill was equipped for shaping wood into the well-ornamented landmark that was their then new terrace here at Third and Marion.
The Seattle city directory for 1884 has the partners living in their stately building, along with Thomas Burke, perhaps the most outstanding among the city’s “second wave” of pioneers. Other tenants were the dry goods and clothing merchants Jacob and Joseph Frauenthal, who had their own business block near Pioneer Square. The lawyer and future Judge Thomas Burke had his office in the Frauenthal Block.
Following the city’s Great Fire of 1889, which the wooden row houses escaped, the city rapidly rebuilt in brick and stone, expanding in every direction, including up. The Stetson & Post Block, which started as an elegant landmark visible from Elliott Bay, was soon hiding in the shadow of a seven-story business block, which was directly across Second Avenue, and named for Thomas Burke. The
row houses then added commerce. In place of the five grand stairways to the five apartments, five uniformly designed storefronts were built facing the sidewalk on Second. And the city’s first row house or apartments (you choose) also changed it’s name to the New York Kitchen Block, after the restaurant that was its principal tenant.
As noted by now far above, the 1884 Sanborn real estate map calls these attached homes “French Row Dwellings.” The Brits called them terraced housing. The many brownstones of New York are similarly arranged, and both San Francisco and Baltimore have rows of their architectural cousins – attached or semi-detached houses that are variations on a theme or several themes. Perhaps the most distinguished of the French rows is in Paris, the Place des Vosges, a 17th century creation.
In 1919 the seventy-five-year-old George Stetson succumbed, as did his and John Post’s wooden block. A dozen years earlier, the critic F. M. Foulser, writing a nearly full-page essay on “How Apartment Houses are Absorbing Seattle’s Increasing Population,” in The Seattle Times for December 8, 1907, imagined the Rainier Block (the last of Stetson & Post Block’s three names) as “some aristocratic little lady of by-gone days, who has been compelled to remain among the influx of vulgarly new associates . . . and drawing her skirts about her, remains in solitary retrospection.” Some day, the essayist mused, “when the owner of the land on which ‘The Terrace of Past Memories’ stands, decides to accept the fabulous sum which is bound to be offered him, the old building will give way to a modern skyscraper.” It took some time. While the first replacement of 1919 gleamed behind terracotta tiles, it was, even when discounting the lost tower, still shorter than the row house. The forty-seven floors of the First Interstate Center followed in 1983.
A survivor, the Stetson and Post Mill Company began promoting a “new plan” of delivering a “home from the forest to you.” It was a success. The company explained, because of its “ability to furnish the materials at prices well within reach” This, they explained, was possible because “the company owns its own timber, windows, doors, frames etc., employs no solicitors and sells for cash direct from the forest.” In 1926 Stetson and Post published a pattern book to encourage locals to build a variety of homes that were named, for the most part, after Seattle’s neighborhoods. Below are two examples. None of the forty-five or more “carefully devised plans” featured row-houses.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean Ron and I though it most appropriate to feature a few past contributions that include some row houses. The last feature picked is the first we did on subjects included in Diana James recent history of Seattle’s apartment houses. It is titled, you will remember, SHARED WALLS.
And now we are going to climb the stairs to join the bears, so we will proof this after a good – we hope – night’s sleep.
I’ll venture that this look across Railroad Avenue (Alaskan Way) and Elliott Bay as far as West Seattle’s dim Duwamish Head, far-left, was photographed some few weeks after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, burned everything on the waterfront south of University Street. The fire was ignited by a volatile mix of upset boiling glue and carpenter’s shavings scattered on the floor of Margaret Pontius’s frame building at the southwest corner of Front (First Avenue) and Madison Streets, about a block behind the position the unnamed photographer took to record this rare scene of the waterfront’s revival.
Before the “providential fire” this part of the waterfront was covered with the Commercial Mill and its yard. Built in the mid-1880s on its own wide pier off the foot of Madison Street, this specialist in sash, doors, and blinds was nearly surrounded by stacks of lumber, great contributors to the conflagration. On the night of the ’89 fire, when seen from the safety of First Hill, burningboardsfrom the lumberyard carried high above the business district put on a rare fireworks show.
The small warehouse in the featured photo at the top, right-of-center, was built by and/or for F.A. Buck for his business, California Wines, which he advertised with banners both at the roof crest of the shed and facing the city. It seems that the shed was also being lengthened on its bay side. Railroad Avenue is also being extended further into the bay. This work-in-progress can be seen between the vintner’s shed and the Columbia and Puget Sound Railroad’s boxcar No. 572. Far left, a pile driver reaches nearly as high as the two-mast vessel anchored, probably at low tide, behind the vintner’s warehouse. This ‘parallel parking’ was not what the city council envisioned following the fire. The city expected and eventually got finger piers that extended into the bay, where visiting vessels were tied in the slips between them.
In the featured photo, the bales of hay stacked both beyond the horses, left-of-center, and at the scene’s lower-right corner, have come to the waterfront either over water, often aboard steamers from Skagit valley farms or over the rails of the Seattle Lake Shore and Eastern Railway, which had, only recently in 1888, reached both the agriculture hinterlands of King County and the Seattle Coal and Iron Company’s Issaquah coal mine.
The smaller shed in the right foreground of the features photo at the top is outfitted as the waterfront office for the coal company, which in May of 1888 sent from Yesler Wharf, probably to California, its first load of coal aboard the ship Margaret. Within two years the Seattle Coal and Iron Company’s growth, disrupted the wine-sellers quarters. The long shed was removed to allow construction of an elevator and overpass for moving Issaquah coal from the SLSER coal cars above and over Railroad Avenue to the company’s new bunkers that extended into Elliott Bay. The coal bunkers stood over what is now the dining area of Ivar’s Acres of Clams on Pier 54.
Anything to add, Paul? For sure Jean. Of the five waterfront links that Ron Edge has attached, the first one especially is filled with Madison Street relevance – and more. That is there are many other features embedded for the reader to release merely by clicking on it (and the others). And may they also remember to click on the images to enlarge them for studying details. That’s why we scan them big for the blog.
One of the five men posing beside The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s office may well be Leigh Hunt, who with his wife Lizzie was the owner of both the newspaper and the house. The latter became the P-I’s temporary quarters after the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, destroyed the paper’s office and plant at the corner of Mill Street (Yesler Way) and Post Avenue (aka Post Alley). Before the sign was even in place, the P-I began publishing, here at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Fourth Avenue.
In 1886, at age 33, Hunt had given up his presidency of the Agricultural College of Iowa at Ames for the exhilarating, if risky, enterprise of running his own newspaper, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The paper had begun in 1873 as the Seattle Gazette, a one-sheet weekly and Seattle’s first newspaper, and carried on with a variety of names and owners. Hunt’s stay lasted little more than six years, ended in bankruptcy triggered by the nation-wide economic panic of 1893.”
Although deep in debt, Hunt’s powers of persuasion soon moved the Great Northern Railroad to help pay his way to Korea, where he founded the Oriental Consolidated Mines and quickly made millions extracting gold. After he returned to Seattle, Hunt opened an office announcing that he was prepared to “meet all his debtors and pay in full.”
Leigh Hunt began the 20th century with a safari to Egypt’s upper Nile “for his health,” but “like the wide-awake American everywhere,” soon developed his trip into a scheme to get richer by growing cotton in the Sudan with British cooperation and the labor of American Negroes. Hunt’s characterization of his plan to give the colonizing blacks opportunities to acquire homes and skills got him no help from the black educator Booker T. Washington, who while in Paris, announced that “I am here merely to study the best known French manual training schools and have no intention of proceeding to Cairo to meet Leigh Hunt.”
In the summer of 1932 the 75-year-old Hunt’s planned visit to Seattle was cancelled when he fell from a twenty-foot ladder while examining a mine near Las Vegas, Nevada, his last hometown. His Seattle Times obituary of October 5, 1933, made claims on him. “It was here that Mr. Hunt entered his business career, which eventually took him all over the world, and it was here that he left the imprint of his genius for organization, promotion and development.” Hunt’s Times obit. is attached immediately below in a context of a few other stories that day.
[CLICK to ENLARGE]
Anything to add, Paul?
The best addition is from Ron Edge. It is the clipping from the P-I’s first issue following the fire. It is an extra you have already encountered – we have embedded it in the story above. We will also include a link from 2012, the feature about the Burnett Home across Fourth Avenue from Hunts, at the northeast corner of 4th and Columbia. Include within its link are other features from the neighborhood, including one on the Meydenbauer Home, which was also on Columbia and near by at its northeast corner with Third Avenue.
Here we stand – about a century ago – with an unidentified photographer recording five U.S. Postal Service teams and their drivers. The year is about 1905, six years after the Post Office moved from its previous headquarters on Columbia Street here to the Arlington Hotel. Larger quarters were needed, in part for sorting mail.
On the left (of the top photo) is the hotel’s north façade extending west from the corner of University Street and First Avenue. Above the sidewalk on First, the hotel reached four ornate brick stories high with a distinguished conical tower at the corner, not seen here. To the rear there were three more stories reaching about forty feet down to Post Alley. First named the Gilmore Block, after its owner David Gilmore, for most of its eighty-four years this sturdy red brick pile was called the Arlington, but wound up as the Bay Building, and it was as the Bay that it was razed in 1974.
By beginning the construction of his hotel before the city’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, Gilman performed a considerable, if unwitting, service. The south foundation of the structure was formidable enough to stop the fire from reaching University Street. Off shore, a chain of volunteer fire fighters, passing buckets of water pulled from Elliot Bay, stopped the fire’s northerly advance as well along the off-shore quays and trestles built of pilings for warehouses and railroad tracks.
Free mail delivery started in Seattle on September 11, 1887, with four carriers. Remembering that booming Seattle’s population increased in a mere thirty years from 3,533 in 1880 to the 237,194 counted by the federal census in 1910, we may imagine that this quintet of carriers and their teams were a very small minority of what was needed to deliver the mail in 1905. Behind the posing carriers, University Street descends on a timber trestle above both Post Alley and Western Avenue to Railroad Avenue (Alaska Way). Most likely some of the mail was rolled along the trestle both to and from “Mosquito Fleet” steamers for waterways distribution.
After the post office moved three blocks to the new Federal Building at Third Avenue and Union Street in 1908, First Avenue between University and Seneca Streets continued as a block of hospitality with seven hotels.
Anything to add, Paul? A few variations from the neighborhood, Jean, beginning with a look south on First Avenue through University Street.
FIRST AVENUE SOUTH THRU UNIVERSITY STREET
WHERE THE UNIVERSITY STREET RAMP REACHED RAILROAD AVENUE
[NOTE: The NOW describe directly above has not been found, or rather a good print or the negative for it stays hidden.]
WESTERN AVENUE LOOKING SOUTH FROM THE UNIVERSITY STREET VIADUCT
[ANOTHER NOTE: The “Contemporary photo noted in the paragraph directly above may have joined the other “now” subject missing above it. ]
Here – if Ron Edge reads his mail on awakening Sunday Morning – we may find a link for the story feature we published here on the Buzby’s Waterfront Mill, which was nearby at the foot of Seneca Street. After the story of Buzby and his pioneer flour, we follow Jean and his students off to Snoqualmie Falls for another now-then. After a few more digressions, the linked feature returns to the “hole,” above, for more of Frank Shaw’s photos of it. This may all transpire soon for Ron arises about the time I join the other bears here for another long winter’s sleep.