(click to enlarge photos)
Built in 1910, the Silvian has survived with its charms intact – most of them. Sometime between ‘now and then,’ the graceful four-story apartment house lost its four projecting bays facing Harrison Street and the playful symmetry of its queenly cornice. The ‘then’ was most likely photographed in its first year when the apartment’s agent, John Davis & Co., listed it in this newspaper as “this new and strictly modern apartment building; every known convenience, rooms well arranged; select neighborhood; good car service; convenient to markets and stores.” The “car” meant here is the trolley on Broadway, a half-block from the front door. And the Silvian was also promoted as “within walking distance.”
The Times soon included a sizeable photograph of the Silvian as the newspaper’s forty-first example out of fifty selections of “Seattle’s Progress.” The text for this April 2, 1911, applause included a direct summary of the Silvian’s vital statistics. “Recently completed on 10th Avenue and Harrison Street at a cost of $40,000, it occupies a ground space 56 x 96 feet in size, the lot being 60 by 100 feet . . . with a basement and twenty-eight apartments of two, three, four and five rooms.”
Jacqueline Williams, author of “The Hill With A Future,” our best history of Capitol Hill, describes the Silvian as a “Very desirable place for people to live, with amenities that some smaller homes might lack.” As a testimony to its desirable qualities, G.W. Wallace, the building’s owner, lived there when it opened. The Silvian also had a janitor (who perhaps also ran the building’s all night elevator service), public phones (probably in the lobby), rear entrances (historian Williams points out that such were useful for ice delivery), beds in the wall, and “many other attractive features.”
In 1927 the Silvian Apartments sold for $85,000, a sale illustrated by The Times with another photograph. On September 8, 1929 – a few weeks before the Crash – a classified offered a “2-room attractive corner apartment; overstuffed (furniture), elevator, phone service for $40. Just off Broadway.” A decade later an “attractive” two-room apartment in the Silvian could be had for $22, a depression-era bargain.
Today the Silvian is one of the many Seattle apartment houses owned and managed by Capitol Hill Housing, the organization that generates affordable housing, while also – and here the Silvian is an especially fine example – preserving neighborhood character.
Anything to add, lads? SURELY Jean. Ron Edge has pulled and put up ELEVEN past features, and they, as we know, are almost without excepted also holding other features and those features other features and so on and on. Imagine what chains we might have in five years or ten – assuming a lot, like the blogs and our survival. Ron’s last link below, which when one opens it, has, I believe, the title “Street Photography,” begins with the snapshot of our friend Clay Eals’ mother walking on 4th Avenue a half block north of Pike Street, and ends with a few examples of the photographs I took in 1976-77 of the bus shelter at Marketime on Broadway and Republican. I lived then in the second floor apartment of the corner structure showing immediately below, far-right in the photo with Pilgrim church and the road work on widening Broadway.