In Jean Sherrard’s “now,” five nurses from Swedish Hospital’s oncology ward stand at or close to what was once the southeast corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue. This was also the prospect for Asahel Curtis’s “then,” recorded early in the twentieth century when this First Hill neighborhood was still known for its stately homes, big incomes and good manners.
With about 110 years between them, both Sherrard and Curtis are sighting to the northwest, and both their photographs are only the center thirds of wide panoramas. Sherrard’s shows Swedish Hospital’s lobby during a renovation. Curtis’s pan at its full width is merged from three negatives. It reaches from the northeast corner of Columbia and Summit, on the right, to far west down Columbia, on the left. (The full pans of both now hang in the lobby of Town Hall, the former Fourth Church of Christian Science, another First Hill institution on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and Seneca Street.)
The big home, centered here at the northwest corner of the intersection, was built for the Seattle banker-industrialist, Charles J. Smith. He in turn sold it to the doctor-surgeon Edmund Rininger in 1905, about the time Curtis visited the corner, perhaps at Rininger’s request. With his wife Nellie and daughter Olive, Rininger moved into the house next door on Columbia, in order to set about building his Summit Avenue Hospital at the corner.
The surgeon’s plans were fatally upset on July 25, 1912,å when, while driving home from a house call in Kent, the forty-two year old Rininger, alone in his motorcar, collided with a Puget Sound Electric Railway train. With the death of her husband, Nellie Rininger sold the nearly completed hospital to the Swedish Hospital Association in the spring of 1913. As part of this fateful transfer, Nellie Rininger also gifted her late husband’s large medical library and his then new x-ray machine to Swedish Hospital.
Both the china and linen monogramed SAH for Rininger’s Summit Avenue Hospital came with the sale. No doubt for reasons of economy the Swedish Hospital Association (SHA) decided to use both in spite of the reordering of the letters.
Anything to add, Paul? Yes Jean and again with help from Rod Edge. First, several links below, and all include features that relate to the neighborhood and sometimes just beyond it. Some will be found twice, perhaps even thrice. The most relevant feaure is probably the last one about the General Hospital. It first appeared here not so long ago. Also featured here is my “mea culpa” (I am guilty) confession concerning my flubs with the the Anderson mansion, and my humble correction.
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.