About Robert Ketcherside

Rob Ketcherside is co-founder of Capitol Hill Historical Society, http://capitolhillpast.com . He has a book, Lost Seattle, available at the library and the Elliott Bay Book Co. His rephotography and history column Re:Take appears here monthly.

CHS Re:Take | Onward for the Ward House

Ward House 1892ish-2016 (Christine Johnson via Marianne Roulet via Paul Dorpat)

Ward House 1890s-2016 (The bottom photo was taken by Christine Johnson whose descendant Marianne Roulet gave a copy to Paul Dorpat who used it in a 1999 article much like this one and gave the okay for it to appear here.)

This is the Ward House, seen in two of the three locations it’s been over the last 120 or 130 years. The bottom half is at Pike and Boren on the southwest corner, seen in the early 1890s. The top half is earlier this week, at Denny and Belmont on the northwest corner. Between the two it was nearby its origin, turned and moved a bit up Boren to make way for the Gallatin Hotel in 1905, and stayed there until it shuffled uphill in 1986.

Ward House - George Corley - WS Parks - 3-16-72

Its second home, on Boren but pushed uphill 100 feet or so to make way for the brick apartment building on the right, known as the Crest Hotel when this photo was taken in 1972. More on that in a bit. (Photo by George Corley for the Washington State Parks Commission – March 16, 1972)

There are many ways to tell the stories of the secret lives of buildings. The way I like to do it, I start with a crisp date of construction and tell a bit about Seattle and the neighborhood at that time. Then I share how the humans responsible for it lived their lives and whether they were notable, or just notably normal. The Ward House’s early story is more difficult to piece together than I expected. Especially since it’s one of Seattle’s earliest official city landmarks, and because has been known as Seattle’s oldest surviving home. Luckily I had some help, but there is plenty of fertile ground for the next historian to hop to it.

In search of the primary source
The Ward House was built in 1882… or perhaps it wasn’t built until 1889? Check back in a week (I’ll update here and post to Twitter) and I may have a final answer, but for now I have sources that point to two answers. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | The lost community of Boren

Boarding house and brick apartments replaced by blah

The Pickwick on Boren at Union, c1980 and 2016. Looks occupied still, with a resident on the chair on the lower porch (Stephen Cysewski and Rob Ketcherside)

Some of my blended old and new photographs are more subtle than others. For this month, I started with Stephen Cysewski’s great photo of the west side of Boren between Union and Pike (undated, but around 1980), and then tried to figure out which interesting half to blank out with the terrible looking Avanti building or the Homewood Suites hotel at the end of the block. In the end I chose to include very little of today.

When they were demolished, these buildings were known from left to right as the Knickerbocker, Pickwick, and Thayer apartments. The Knickerbocker was built in 1905. The Thayer was built as the Donaldson, named after its 1906 builders Robert and Charles Donaldson. Just off frame were more apartments, the Berquest to the north built by Edwin Berquest in 1909, and the Lawton around the corner on Union built in 1905. Apartment buildings hugged the slope that led up to First Hill’s spread out mansions.

The Pickwick Hotel, center, was built in 1904 under the rather ridiculous name The Puritan. It would be fun to think of a worse name for rental housing. Maybe the Spartan? The Ascetic? The Detached House? A few years later H. L. Mencken described Puritanism as “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Who would want to live in a building with such an aura?

So it’s no surprise that when sold in 1905, the building’s name was changed. But the inspiration for the new name, The Firmere, is also a mystery. It’s apparently Latin, meaning something like “firms [up]”. Not great ad copy. Weird even. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | Ice cream, beer, and the Montlake Drive-In Public Market

Montlake Drive-in market 1937 and 2016

Montlake Drive-in Market 1937 and 2016. Old one is a 1937 state assessor’s photo, from the Washington State Archives. Filed under 2200 24th Ave East. The new one I took on a recent cold morning after hiking down through Interlaken Park.

I did it! My 4-month streetcar history vigil forced SDOT to start operating the streetcar. Now that that’s over, let’s talk about some car-oriented architecture at 2200 24th Ave East at Boston Street, where the Boston 2200 building is underway. We’re going to need to talk about pickles and ice cream to get there, and about beer afterwards.

Horluck’s a-changing

Dear HistoryLink: Please pay someone to write a biography of George Horluck.

There’s not a lot of information about George Horluck out there, but this whole article revolves around him so we’re going to have to take what we can get. Google suggests that we read the History of Horluck Brewing Co and Sick’s [sic] Century Brewery. I did it for you, no need to click. 6/10. Unhealthy obsession with beer. Sprinkling of pre-beer facts with no context. Good effort.

As the page says, George was born in Nebraska to parents newly immigrated to the United States, but they came from Denmark. The family moved to Seattle by 1910.

With a bit more digging in newspaper and genealogy records, George Horluck’s life comes into focus. By 1910 his father Hans was in a partnership with Anton Hagen, selling pickles at the Pike Place Market and Westlake Public Market. Hans transitioned through two other partnerships in the next two years, selling pickles, bacon and pickled herring. (Any future biographer is probably going to stop at this point to scream the same words that sprang from my social network accounts: “Arg, no! Why am I researching the lineage of this pickle stall??”)

From about 1915 to 1916 George sold papers at 1st and Pike, and then delivered a Seattle Times route on Denny Hill. After high school he joined his father’s odd pairing of businesses in Port Orchard: growing and selling feed for farm animals, and operating mosquito fleet steamers. After a decade of hard work, in 1926 George traveled to his parents’ home of Copenhagen and spent a year exploring Europe. (June 30, 1929 Seattle Times page 68.) Continue reading

CHS Re:Take: Blood, snow, and Madison streetcars

Rephotograph of Madison at Pike looking West

Snow on Madison at Pike, c1916 with 2016 in the back. A cable car or streetcar heads towards us on Madison.  (Washington State Archives King County Metro collection LS0130 and Rob Ketcherside)

Recently, we were surprised again with snowflakes, one or two at a time trying their hardest to stick on the wet pavement. Every so often, though, Seattle gets a good snow. Look at those mounds in this old photo, which came undated from the State Archives. It must have been 1916. I’ve been dating these photos “circa 1913” that I copied a few years ago. But there was only one snow event from that period that resembled this, two feet over a 24-hour period at the start of February.

The snow was so bad that the manager of the street railways for Puget Sound Traction said “We have thrown our hands up in the air. The snow is too much for us… All Seattle can do is sit tight and wait for the snowfall to cease. We have done everything possible to keep service and have been beaten.” (Seattle Times, Feb 3, 1916)

But the cable on Madison pulled its way through. The Times explained,

“This morning found car service practically helpless in all but eight of the thirty-two systems in the city. The three cable lines, James and Madison Streets and Yesler Way, continued operation on an hourly schedule throughout the night and bid fair to continue well into tonight.”

The city dug its way out eventually, but the snow took its toll on buildings like St. James’ Cathedral, which lost its dome. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | The Great Capitol Hill Auto Row Fire of 1925

The scene then and now (Seattle Times November 1 page 1 and Rob Ketcherside)

The scene then and now (Seattle Times November 1, 1925, page 1 and Rob Ketcherside)

We’ve all heard of the 1889 Great Seattle Fire (ahem), but most of us haven’t heard of the Great Automobile Row fire that struck Capitol Hill in 1925. It started at 6:30 PM on Saturday, October 31, Halloween night on the southeast corner of Pine and 11th.

A witness across the street where Richmark Label is today described the scene to a Seattle Times reporter, and her words made print the next morning:

“We were sitting close to our front window when the explosion rocked our walls,” said Mrs. [C. T.] Dawson. “We looked out and saw a dense cloud of smoke pouring from the Miller-Norton building.

“The whole building was sheeted in flame, and we saw clouds of sparks falling on nearby buildings.”

Your mental image needs calibration. There was no daylight savings time in 1925. So unlike the last eight years with PDT out into November, the sun set before 5 PM that Halloween. The fire raged in the dark, in a city with much weaker streetlights than we have today, with comparatively little light pollution. The city was much, much lower. The Seattle Times declared, “The fire made a red glow in the sky which could be seen from downtown and drew hundreds to the scene.”

You know how any fire draws a crowd. Well, this turned into a huge fire, destroying several buildings and damaging others. The crowd on that dry night was huge, as the Seattle Times related the next morning: Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | When will the 27,500-day streetcar service delay end?

Old photo from King County Metro Collection at Washington State Archives. New by Rob Ketcherside

Old photo from King County Metro Collection at Washington State Archives. New by Rob Ketcherside

As I sit here writing, we are just a few days from “Streetcar Safety Day” and it will be a few more until you read this article. So you may feel it is a bit risky for me to cast my voice ahead and claim that this is yet another chapter in my pledge to write a streetcar history article each month until the much anticipated and long delayed opening of the First Hill Streetcar.

Well, is that man above in 1913 worried about driving his horses into the back of the number 49 bus? No, he is staring back at you, right through a rip in the fabric of space-time, right into your soul, and the horses have ceased to exist to him. And so it is with me. I will blindly whip this wagon right into the back of a pastel, cherry-blossom adorned streetcar in the public interest of a shared understanding of our streetcar past. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | Electric cars to Capitol Hill, 1901 — waiting just a little longer for the FH Streetcar

Looking south on 15th Ave East from Mercer Street. Old photo from Washington State Archives, Metro collection, LS0018.

Looking south on 15th Ave East from Mercer Street. Old photo from Washington State Archives, Metro collection, LS0018. I think it’s 1913.

Last month I threw down the gauntlet: a new chapter in the history of neighborhood streetcar service each month until the First Hill streetcar opens. This is month number two. Will we make it to three?

This month, we’re looking at a legit Capitol Hill streetcar: the destination placard actually says Capitol Hill on it. This line to James Moore’s new neighborhood opened on November 17, 1901. There was service on Broadway a decade earlier (read the Re:Take about it here), but Capitol Hill didn’t exist yet (read the Re:Take about it here) and it was one of many independently operated routes in the city. In 1899 and 1900 Seattle Electric Company took control of almost every line, and the Capitol Hill line became one of their first newly constructed streetcars.

Moore described service in a big advertisement before opening day, “The new line opens tomorrow morning for the special accommodation of the best residence district in Seattle”. Initially it started at the bottom of Second Avenue and traveled up to Pike Street, then on Pike to Fifteenth, and Fifteenth to Volunteer Park (then City Park). Cars ran every 12 minutes each way, only taking a break from just after midnight to 6 a.m. Later the cars were switched to Pine Street, the same route that Metro’s #10 trolley bus takes today. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | Waiting for the First Hill Streetcar? Take a trip on Broadway, Pike/Pine lines past

Looking up Broadway in about 1913, back when streetcars were uncomplicated.

Looking up Broadway in about 1913, back when streetcars were uncomplicated.

In the off-season, the sports media went into a tizzy about Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and his pending contract. One local blogger, Kenneth Arthur, decided to mock them with daily posts until the contract was finally signed. His message: the process may be slow and painful, but it will get done.

I’m taking the watered-down Kenneth Arthur challenge. One streetcar-related Re:Take each month until the First Hill Streetcar finally opens.

Our first streetcar photo was taken on Broadway south of Pike, standing in the road in front of Harvard Market QFC. More than just the two visible streetcar lines ran through here were when it was taken in 1913. But let’s stick with them.


Streetcar lines in Pike-Pine, 1914. From map I bought and scanned and is now on Wikimeida.

Streetcar lines in Pike/Pine, 1914. From map I bought and scanned and is now on Wikimedia. It’s a web of streetcars!

One was headed east on Pike. Some of you remember when the 11 ran on Pike Street, before the buses were consolidated on Pine. When did that happen? 2003? Street car service on Pike started a hundred years prior, after the street was regraded in 1903. It was used for a new streetcar line that switched over to Union at 15th, and headed out to Madrona. (I wrote about that line over on my blog.)

The other was headed south on Broadway, with people getting on right in front of Broadway High. By this point, Capitol Hill’s original streetcar line (Re:Take from 3 years ago) was cut off from First Hill, and it followed the route of the 49 down Pine Street. Actually it was more like the old 7, turning south and heading to Pioneer Square. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | A shop on 11th Ave

1427 11th on left (now Modera Apartments) next to Lorraine Apartments (now with Wildrose). State Archives and Rob Ketcherside

1427 11th on left (now Modera Apartments) next to Lorraine Apartments (the one with Wildrose). 1937 photo via Brendan McKeon, housed at Washington State Archives. 2015 by Rob Ketcherside.

“An old house with an old man.” That was the cryptic suggestion for this month’s Re:Take, from a three-year-old.

To fulfill the request, I turned to the fantastic work of Brendan McKeon. A while back he scanned all of the old assessor photos of Pike/Pine, and he recently put them up on HistoryPin for us to browse. While looking through them, this modest 11th Ave storefront caught my eye. It was the old house as asked, but with a retail facade. And it was a building I’d never seen, destroyed 65 years ago.

The long and short of it: built as a home, it was turned into a grocery store in 1912; the family who ran it moved south of the city and continues selling food to this day; a Japanese family took over the store and spent WW II as prisoners in Minidoka; the building was destroyed for a parking lot in 1949.

Now for just the long of it.

It was built in 1899 as the north end of a series of quadruplicate houses. All of the buildings were apparently developed by Alexander Burns, who lived in 1423 briefly. Burns moved his family from there to the Thistle Apartments which he built on the 1415 parcel in 1902. His family bounced through a series of addresses for the prior decade, each of which I suspect he built and then lived in while finishing and then renting or selling after the family moved. His profession was listed as lather, but I know of a number of properties he owned and rented, including a fourplex facing this on the other side of the street. He is once listed as a boss, not just a tradesman, and must have captured a windfall in the post-Fire construction boom.

1421 to 1423 11th, 1937. This is what the grocery looked like originally, the southern two of the three. Image harvested from Brendan McKeon on HistoryPin, who scanned it at the Washington State Archives.

1421 to 1423 11th, 1937. This is what the grocery looked like originally, the southern three of the four houses. Image harvested from Brendan McKeon on HistoryPin, who scanned it at the Washington State Archives.

One of the four houses — the one we care about, at 1427 11th — was purchased immediately in 1899 by Frank Salle. He shared it with his brother Dominick, sister-in-law Santa and three nephews James, Antonio and Lewis. Frank and Dominick ran the Salle Brothers “cigar and fruit” store at the corner of 3rd and James in the Drexel Hotel starting in 1897. Within a few years of moving their home from 23rd and Spruce to here at 11th and Pike, Dominick had his own grocery at 6th and Pike, he and his family moved two door south to 1417, and Frank married fellow Italian Cristina Depasquale and started a family of his own. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | ‘I catch the bus here’

I was really interested in neighborhood commerce back in 2007, and luckily took note of every business on Pine from Minor to Broadway. This came up in my defense of the Bauhaus block and its high commercial density and resilient businesses a few years ago. In the preamble I described why I took the inventory:

I was living in Tokyo, and deeply saddened by the impending loss of my favorite places in Seattle: Kincora, Manray, Bimbo’s Bitchin Burrito Kitchen, and Cha Cha. Okay, I was living in Tokyo thinking “what a bunch of chumps!” as I watched Seattle undo itself.

I’m not sure if I know how to get out of this third- or fourth-level of Inception-style self-referencing and hyphened navel gazing. How about the old web author trick, a provocative picture?

Werner Lenggenhager took the old photo in 1977. I took the new photo Wednesday morning. They're mixed together. Pine from Belmont to Summit.

Werner Lenggenhager took the old photo in 1977. I took the new photo Wednesday morning. They’re mixed together. Pine from Belmont to Summit. What’s your purpose?

Do you know Werner Lenggenhager? He belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of Seattle street photographers. He took the photo in this month’s blend in 1977, wrote “I catch the bus here” on the back and gave it to the Seattle Public Library. The library is in the process of scanning them and posting them to their website. They’ve got a great quote by him: “Some persons contribute time to charitable causes. My pictures are my small contribution to the city.” He gave another 30,000 photos to the library over four or five decades.

The 500 block of East Pine — which is in that photo up there — was demolished in 2008 to make way for condos that were put on hold by the Great Recession. There was a nice gravel parking lot for four years until luxury apartment building Terravita was completed in 2012.

Do you remember the Bimbo’s block? Did you spend any time there? I’d love to hear about it in comments.

What’s amazing to me as I look at this 1977 photo, I see things I recognize from my time on this block 20 years later. That Harry’s Grocery sign was still there. Same with Mar’s Cleaners. At some point the cleaners left and by the time the building came down it was a bar with a clear view of Lenggenhager’s bus stop, named Bus Stop.

Here’s what my 2007 inventory of the building had: Continue reading