A century of use for Capitol Hill’s Gilda’s Club building

Seattle writer and historian Dotty DeCoster has been nice enough to share many of her essays and reports with CHS over the years. She first published this piece in 2009 — we’ve updated it and are happy to share it with readers again as Gilda’s Club prepares for its first ever Red Door campaign.

By Dotty DeCoster
This story is about the building at 1400 Broadway (corner of Union) that is home to Gilda’s Club of Seattle. It is the only Greek Revival edifice in the immediate neighborhood, and the front doors are bright red. The outside of the building is much as it was when it was built in 1912 and Johnson & Hamilton moved up from First Avenue. Until 1965, the building was the Johnson & Hamilton funeral parlor.

Charles F. Johnson and his wife Sophia, and Frank Hamilton and his wife Crissie Rankin Hamilton came to Seattle from Fargo, North Dakota, and set up the third mortuary in Seattle at 2127 First Avenue in 1902. Apparently, the families had met in Fargo – the Hamiltons were originally from Ontario and the Johnsons from Minneapolis. It is likely that by 1911 the confusion and mess generated by the regrades downtown impelled Johnson & Hamilton to look for a new site for their business. 1400 Broadway was a vacant lot right on a streetcar line with a livery stable behind it (east) and automobile garages to the north and northeast. Architect Daniel Riggs Huntington designed the building and it appears likely that the builder was William W. Noyes.

Daniel R. Huntington, A.I.A., (1871-1962) had a long and distinguished architectural career in Seattle, including serving as City Architect for a time. He was also a distinguished painter. On Capitol Hill, in addition to the Johnson-Hamilton building, he designed Fire Station #7 at 402 15th Avenue E., the Rainier Chapter House of the Daughters of the American Revolution at 800 E. Roy, the Norcliffe Apartments at 1119 Boren, and his own residence at 1800 E. Shelby.

First known as undertakers, then as funeral parlors, finally as a funeral home, the Johnson & Hamilton business continued until the mid-1920s. Continue reading

Gilda’s Club painting Capitol Hill doors red, holding 5K walk/run

(Image: Gilda's Club)

(Image: Gilda’s Club)

A red bike and the red door at Gilda's Club (Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

A red bike and the red door at Gilda’s Club (Image: Kate Clark via Flickr)

Andrea Morrison, the owner of E Pine running store Fleet Feet, wants everyone to know about Capitol Hill’s Gilda’s Club.

Mayor Ed Murray, organizers say, will also show his support for the nonprofit and the fight against cancer by turning the door of City Hall red on September 13th.

Gilda’s Club is a free, supportive community for people affected indirectly or directly by cancer. It is a national organization that has more than 20 chapters across the country. The Seattle club is located at Broadway and Union. The organization was founded in memory of comedienne Gilda Radner.

The club has 6,000 members across Washington and membership is free.

Gilda’s Club calls one of the most beautiful buildings on Broadway home, but organizers say not many in the neighborhood know who they are or what they do. Continue reading

Weekend mugging swarm has August shaping up as Capitol Hill’s most rob-biest month… ever

On a per capita basis, your odds for getting mugged on Capitol Hill probably peaked in the mid-90s but after a small swarm of street robberies around the Hill this weekend, August 2014 appears to be shaping up as the worst month in recent years for robbery in the East Precinct beats covering Capitol Hill.

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This weekend pushed the month over the top with a roster of reports coming in:

  • 8/22 2:52 AM: Two males reportedly hit victim near Broadway Market QFC. Medics were declined. Victim lived nearby.
  • 8/23 1:32 AM: Victim found on sidewalk near Broadway/Pike, suspect last seen fleeing on the Harvard Market stairs. Suspects described only as “group of black males in their 20s.”
  • 8/23 1:55 AM: Report of fist fight at 11/Union turned out to be street robbery. Suspects ran northbound on 11th Ave described as three black males, all wearing beanies and shorts. Two adult male victims suffered head lacerations in the scuffle.
  • 8/23 3 AM: Suspect reportedly stole something from a female victim’s purse. She fell chasing the thief near 13th/Olive St. Her male counterpart told police he thought suspects fled to Cal Anderson. The perpetrator was described only as a “short, white male.”
  • 8/24 10:21 PM: E Pine near Harvard. Caller reported 10 people attempted a strong arm robbery, trying to take wallet out of victim’s hand and threatened him with knife but didn’t show. The group was described only as black males and female teens. The group was last seen leaving the area on Harvard.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill bike notes | Big day for bike share, Broadway bikeway extension, Greenway meetings

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Pronto at the 2014 Bike-In at Cal Anderson Park earlier this month (Images: CHS)

Pronto at the 2014 Bike-In at Cal Anderson Park earlier this month (Images: CHS)

On a big day for Seattle bikes, here are a few pedal-focused news notes for Capitol Hill and the multi-modal streets beyond.

  • Pronto’s first big hill climb: The first public bike system in the Pacific Northwest faces a major test Monday as memberships for Seattle’s Pronto bicycle share go on sale starting at noon.
    unnamed10633507_263541060512193_1299985923774099176_oCustomers will have the option of signing up for two levels of “founding memberships” –

    It’s that moment you’ve all been waiting for! On Monday, August 25, be one of the first 600 to sign up for an annual membership online at pronto cycleshare.com and receive the coveted status of a Pronto Founding Member. Besides bragging rights and all the street cred that comes with being part of Seattle history, Founding Members will receive an exclusive, limited-edition blue key to access the system. It’s no secret that these are going to sell out fast (Citibike’s 5,000 founding memberships sold out in just 30 hours!), so mark your calendars for noon on August 25th and secure yours before it’s too late!

    The new system will begin with 500 bikes serving the city with Capitol Hill, First Hill, the U-District, Eastlake, South Lake Union, Belltown, downtown, Pioneer Square and International District stations . Each station will have docks for 12 to 20 bikes and will feature a kiosk where non-members can sign up for 24-hour, or multiday passes, and or access bikes using a code. Those who pay $85 for an annual membership will be able to bypass the kiosk and check bikes out directly from their docks. Continue reading

Location, location, location — and proximity to transit: Developers line up Broadway post office site for 5-story apartment building

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(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The “long-term holders” who purchased the building home to Capitol Hill’s post office in 2012 are lining up plans to build a five-story apartment building on the Broadway site.

Mark Craig, of Bartell’s real estate investment subsidiary Henbart which bought the property in 2012 for $3 million, confirmed the start of the public development process for the corner building home to the U.S. Post Office Broadway branch.

“We’re real excited about the location and the proximity to transit,” Craig said. UPDATE: Henbart is owned by the Bartell’s family but is not a subsidiary of the drugstore chain. Sorry for the mistake.

Continue reading

Defense to appeal 10-year sentence in Neighbours arson case

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 10.00.19 AMAttorneys for convicted Neighbours arsonist Musab Masmari have filed an appeal of the 10-year sentence in the case.

“Because of the political nature of this case, one always suspected this could happen,” defense attorney Charles Swift said after the July decision by Judge Ricardo S. Martinez to double the five years both sides in the case had agreed to. Prosecutors told CHS at the time that they believed Masmari had an anti-gay bias but they asked the judge to not raise the sentence based on hate crime motivations because it would open the possibility of appeals.

The Seattle Weekly broke the news on the appeal and reported more on attorney Charles Swift’s involvement in the case:

As with Hamdan’s case, which went to the U.S. Supreme Court, Masmari’s sentence was political, Swift thinks. Shortly after the term was handed down by U.S. Judge Ricardo Martinez on July 31 – doubling the five-year sentence that prosecutors and Masmari had agreed to in a plea bargain – Swift told reporters he was worried this could happen “because of the political nature of this case.” The next day, he gave notice of appeal to the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, challenging the sentence. He is set to file his appellate brief by Halloween.

Masmari, a former Capitol Hill resident, pleaded guilty to setting a New Year’s Eve fire inside a crowded Neighbours nightclub. The arsonist blamed his actions on drinking too much alcohol before setting the fire. In the statement Masmari said he drank an entire “cheap bottle of whiskey” on New Year’s Eve and said he did not remember what happened afterwards. “This defendant violated people’s right to gather safely: he put more than 700 lives at risk when he purposely started a fire at a crowded nightclub on New Year’s Eve,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan in a written statement in May.

Extended First Hill Streetcar, bikeway will (probably) terminate at Roy in 2017, funding still unresolved

(Image: SDOT)

(Image: SDOT)

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 4.18.38 PMFor years, maps of the First Hill Streetcar on Broadway have shown a dotted line extending north of E Denny Way to indicate the possible addition of two or three more stops to the route. The city is now ready to fill-in that line, and end it at Broadway and Roy.

Officials at the Seattle Department of Transportation say they have settled on a $25 million extension of the streetcar with a stop at Broadway and Harrison and a terminus at Broadway and Roy — two stops bewilderingly known as the Broadway Streetcar. The city had been considering an additional third stop at 10th and Prospect, but officials said the estimated $12 million price tag outweighed the benefits of extending the line near Volunteer Park.

“In some respects, the writing was on the wall. When we came back with the gross cost estimates, it was a lot,” said SDOT spokesperson Art Brochet.

The First Hill Street car is expected to open in November, running from Pioneer Square to a temporary Capitol Hill terminus at E Denny Way. When service begins, the First Hill Streetcar will have ten stations along a 2.5 mile route from S Jackson and Occidental to Broadway and Denny Way and will connect Pioneer Square, the ID, Little Saigon, First Hill and Capitol Hill.

Planning for the half-mile, two-stop extension is now 30% complete. Brochet said construction of the two stops could begin in 2016 with an opening in 2017. Continue reading

Ferguson protests take to the streets of Capitol Hill and the Central District

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The tensions around the police shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri have inspired protests and rallies in Seattle. At 23rd and Union, a group has been rallying daily at 4:30 PM to raise their signs and voices on race issues and police violence. Demonstrations in the Central District and on Capitol Hill have been relatively small and almost wholly non-violent — though Friday night, attendees at the rally reportedly dragged a large planter into the intersection at 23rd and Union and briefly disrupted traffic. Saturday night, a small group of 20 to 30 demonstrators met at Seattle Central before braving Broadway for a brief march up and down the busy street chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Meanwhile, criticism of the Ferguson police shooting and response has been nearly universally negative. “Don’t tear gas nonviolent and not-threatening protesters. And for God’s sake, don’t bring dogs out … It’s a throwback to the ‘60s and Bull Connor. The imagery sucks. It was really painful to see the images I saw from Ferguson,” former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper told the LA Times. Stamper oversaw SPD’s response to the 1999 WTO riots.

Freeman flagship shop opens on Capitol Hill (but hopefully you don’t need a rain jacket… for a little while)

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Frank and the Freemans inside the new Loveless shop (Image: CHS)

Last Friday marked the opening for the Capitol Hill flagship shop Freeman, the formerly online-only, made-in-Seattle outerwear company best known for its primary-colored rain jackets. Located in the Loveless Building, the mostly menswear store — they now make a Lady Freeman rain jacket for women, cinched waist and all — is now officially part of the neighborhood shopping district at the end of Broadway neighboring longtimers Kobo and Joe Bar and newcomer Restaurant Marron.

It’s not the most common direction for a store to go from online to brick and mortar, but the three-person team behind Freeman is eager to get to know its customers face-to-face, which is partly why the company decided to open its first-ever shop on Capitol Hill.

“We love how people in the neighborhood are stopping by and seeing what’s going on,” Scott Freeman told CHS, who originally thought about opening in Ballard before deciding on the north end of Broadway. Continue reading

Developers vying to build Capitol Hill Station housing+retail say properties are overvalued

Screen-Shot-2014-04-16-at-9.31.23-PMSiteMapv4-W-Map-1024x807-600x472-1Shortlisted firms vying to buy and develop four parcels of land above the future Capitol Hill light rail station are raising concerns that Sound Transit’s asking price for the properties is far too high, possibly even double what it’s worth. Sound Transit officials say it’s fair market value for some of the most prized property in the city.

The parcel most in question is the Broadway-facing Site A, where a large portion of the site must be reserved for a semi-public plaza to accommodate events like the Broadway Farmers Market, as stipulated in the project’s community forged Development Agreement.

At a Monday meeting with Sound Transit officials inside King Street Station, several developers said a potential $18.7 million price tag for Site A should be cut in half since only half of the parcel can be developed for residential and retail uses. Continue reading

High demand: Parking rate increases coming to Broadway, Pike/Pine

In an effort to free up more paid parking around Capitol Hill, or at least to get most people to park their cars in legal spaces, the city is raising paid parking rates by 50 cents along two busy neighborhood corridors.

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Occupancy rates in Pike/Pine (Image: SDOT)

Starting this month, metered parking rates in Pike/Pine went up 50 cents to $2.50 an hour. The City Council approved the rate bump in June following a recommendation from the Seattle Department of Transportation. SDOT also announced this month that rates around “Capitol Hill North” (metered spaces on and around Broadway north of E John) will go up 50 cents in October to $3.50 an hour. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Station’s crane ready to depart Broadway’s skyline after 3 1/2 years

Capitol Hill Station's shell now rises above the Broadway construction walls. Time to say goodbye to the crane. (Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill Station’s shell now rises above the Broadway construction walls. Time to say goodbye to the crane. (Image: CHS)

Construction signs warned the Hill to be ready for a long haul back in December 2009 (Image: CHS)

Construction signs warned the Hill to be ready for a long haul back in December 2009 (Image: CHS)

A part of the neighborhood skyline for nearly 1,300 days is slated to wave its 250-foot arm goodbye to Capitol Hill this month. The giant crane purchased by Sound Transit contractors that has helped build Capitol Hill Station and the U-Link light rail tunnels beneath Capitol Hill will be taken down, disassembled, and transported north to help build a new station in Roosevelt.

Sound Transit says it will require approximately 20 trucks to cart the giant crane. More information about the crane’s August removal will be announced soon. The Krøll 1800 (Capitol Hill’s is the metric model) was set up with its enormous 250-foot jib about 100 feet off the ground. The model can be as tall as 200 feet. It can lift more than 30,000 pounds at full extension and more than 130,000 when operating at a shorter radius, according to the manufacturer. Continue reading