December 19th, 2008 — the day a bus *almost* slid off an icy Capitol Hill onto I-5


CHS’s view that day. We went straight to Thomas and only slipped and fell three times while trying to cover the crash (Image: CHS)

History doesn’t always repeat but sometimes it echoes.

It was this day in 2008 that two wayward charter buses narrowly avoided tragedy on an icy, snow-packed Capitol Hill in a crash that left one of the coaches jutting out from Melrose and hanging precariously above I-5.

While the scale of Monday’s tragedy was much greater and much more terrible, the dangling Amtrak car in the DuPont derailment reminded us of that Friday, December 19, 2008 afternoon when CHS was new to the neighborhood news beat and found itself trying to cover an unbelievable story playing out at the base of an icy Thomas where the two buses slid into Melrose’s I-5 barriers. Fortunately, we had a lot of help from readers and neighborhood photographers.

“Just in from the scanner. Bus with around 50 passengers on board has crashed off Melrose and is hanging about 10 feet over the lanes of I5 below,” we reported confidently that day as the situation first was unfolding — though we were mostly unsure what we were hearing was really happening. “Accident involves two buses and there are reports of injuries. Heading out now for coverage and pictures.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | E Pine’s Colman Automotive on the National Register

Photo by Joe Mabel (Wikimedia)

Colman Automotive in 2014 (Photo by Joe Mabel / Wikimeda)

The Colman Automotive Building entered the National Parks Service’s National Register of Historic Places very recently — in 2013. It is not currently a City of Seattle Landmark, but the national listing is good enough for it to make our Landmarks Profile roundup.

The two-story commercial building covers the short block between Bellevue Ave and Crawford Place on the south side of Pine Street. It was lovingly restored by Hunters Capital in 2012. They took a useful building that was well-known for its first floor tenant Area 51 and turned it into an Auto Row gem that ushers folks up Pine Street and into the neighborhood. Continue reading

CHS History | Capitol Hill Station’s first Christmas, Tallulah’s born, dognapping

Here are the top stories from this week in CHS history:



As plan for seven-story development takes shape, community looks to future of 23rd and Union’s Midtown Center

Youth jail protest comes to Mayor Murray’s North Capitol Hill neighborhood

Capitol Hill Station’s first Christmas

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Destined for demolition, ‘depressing’ Broadway Bonney-Watson won’t get landmark protections

There is no shade thrown more darkly than the criticisms leveled at an old building brought up for landmarks review by a developer who wants dearly to demolish it. Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board Wednesday night unanimously rejected the nomination of Broadway’s 1961-built Bonney-Watson Funeral Home calling the modern-style building underwhelming, boxy, and, well, depressing.

“We think this building is not a landmark and we’d like you to agree with us,” Jack McCullough, legal counsel for the company under contract to purchase the property and develop two mixed-use buildings on the site, said, calling the building a “most ordinary and uninspiring example.” David Peterson, who prepared the nomination report for the developers called the building “disappointing” and said it was his belief the building doesn’t meet any of the city’s landmark criteria: Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | The many landmarks of Cal Anderson Park

Cal Anderson Park was designated a Seattle Landmark 19 years ago this month on November 4, 1998.

But if you search the city landmark list for “Cal Anderson,” you won’t find anything.

In 1998, Cal Anderson Park was still a civic dream. As part of the process leading to the creation of Cal Anderson, Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks self-nominated the existing reservoir (Lincoln Reservoir) that they hoped to lid over, the grounds around it, and Bobby Morris Playfield to the south which would also be affected. The entire stretch from Pine to Denny, Nagle to 11th became a landmark.

Holding Seattle’s water

Lincoln Reservoir was an important part of the municipal water system created by Seattle following the Great Seattle Fire in 1889. One of the realizations after the fire was that the collection of private wells at springs across Seattle’s hillsides could not supply enough water to carry the city forward. After a successful funding vote, City Engineer R. H. Thomson set out to create a dammed reservoir in the Cascade mountains and a 20 mile pipeline to three reservoirs. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society meeting for December 2017

Our meeting will begin with a 15-minute presentation from Patrice Carroll, Strategic Advisor at the City of Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development on the city’s plan to update Capitol Hill’s design guidelines. A 15-minute Q&A will follow the presentation.

Our agenda (subject to change)

Project Udpates:
1. Landmarks
2. Broadway, 1893 Arcgis
3. Photo scanning
4. Preservation policy research
5. Bylaws and 501c3 Status

Landmark nominations:
1. Bonney Watson
2. P.J. Sullivan House

Check the Facebook event for any changes:

Capitol Hill Historical Society | Nagle Place created this month in history

On November 15, 1899 — one hundred and eighteen years ago this month — Nagle Place was dedicated by the Seattle City Council in ordinance 5630.

Where it’s at

Nagle Place is among the shortest streets in Seattle. It’s bounded by Pine Street on the south and Denny Way on the north, just three blocks long. It’s intersected only once, by Howell Street. The former Olive Street right of way brings a staircase down from Broadway which continues as a path through Cal Anderson Park to the east.

Nagle Place in the 1980s

Nagle Place in Kroll Map book at Seattle Public Utilities Engineering Vault, apparently updated through the 1980s

What’s a Nagle?

John H. Nagle came to Seattle in 1853 as the pioneers were first staking their land claims and filing “plats”, the first official maps of roads and property to be sold. The land that Nagle claimed was more than a mile northeast of the main town, centered on current Cal Anderson Park. He built a homestead and he worked a farm on the land.

We don’t know exactly what afflicted him, but in 1874 Nagle was committed to the Washington Territory Insane Asylum, deemed a “dangerous man”. His stay at the asylum was funded by renting and then slowly selling his property. Continue reading

Two scary Hilloween stories: The Williamson Sisters and the last day of the CHS subscriber drive

Want to hear something really scary? Without your financial support, CHS as we know it is DOOMED. Halloween is the last day of our push to 800 subscribers. We are far short of the goal but if you would like to continue to enjoy CHS without the DREADED SUBSCRIBER WALL AND HAVING TO LOGIN EVERY TIME, you still have time to SUBSCRIBE and HELP!!!!! us continue providing community news to everybody. Happy Hilloween!

Wanna hear another scary story? Let’s visit 1633 Boylston — today’s Buena Vista apartments. For now, it remains one of the Hill’s oldest apartment buildings. In the winter of 1911, it became the home for two of the more tragic figures in Capitol Hill historythe Williamson Sisters:

While visiting Victoria BC, they read an advertisement for Linda’s book in a Seattle newspaper. Although there was no indication that either of them was sick, they decided to go and take the fasting cure. In February of 1911, they visited Linda at her office and were told that the sanitarium wasn’t ready yet, but that she would treat them in Seattle. The sisters were put up at the Buena Vista Apartments at 1633 Boylston on Capitol Hill.

Under Dr. Linda Burfield Hazzard’s, um, care, the sisters were starved from February into April inside the Boylston Ave building, according to Stalking Seattle:

They survived mostly on a thin vegetable broth. Linda would show up regularly to provide the enemas and massages. She also began to make inquiries about the sisters’ business affairs, and offered to store the women’s diamond rings and real estate deeds in her office safe. (How nice)

Dr. Linda’s fasting diet is now a legendarily macabre tale from the annals of quack medicine and a descent into some of the darker corner’s of Capitol Hill’s mortuary past:

Prosecuting attorneys would later suspect that Hazzard had starved the British sisters in order to strip them of their wealth (Claire, weak and skeletal, had signed over her bank accounts to Hazzard shortly before her death.) Worse, the body lying before Conway on the fourth floor of E. R. Butterworth and Sons, beautifully preserved as it was—What was it with these Americans and their obsession with pickling the dead?—was not Claire. At least it didn’t look like Claire. The sisters’ uncle, a Brit and also unaccustomed to embalmed corpses, didn’t recognize his niece either.

Enjoy your Hilloween candy. Oh, and subscribe to CHS… while you still have time.


Not yet dearly departed, Broadway Bonney Watson to be considered as landmark

What is coming next for Broadway’s Bonney Watson Funeral Home could have been much different if the original plans for the “modern style” structure had been achieved:

An undated but presumably early architectural rendering retained by the Bonney-Watson company gives some indication of preliminary design ideas—the image shows a Modern-style three-story flat- roofed structure with an integral clock tower, all set back from the street to allow for landscaping. The few windows on the main elevation feature projecting wrapped surrounds, which match approximately the profile of the thin parapet coping. The building is clad with stone laid in a random ashlar pattern, but the front elevation is dominated by a two-story-high central gridded façade made of an unknown material—possibly a projecting screen, or a wall cladding of mosaic-like tiles, stones, or even translucent glazing. This proposed design apparently included a wrapping driveway allowing vehicular access to the rear of the building from Broadway, like the 1912 building.

Instead, the 1961 architectural creation of the Bain & Overturf firm more than likely has a date with the wrecking ball in a year or so. CHS reported on the development plan for twin six-story mixed-use apartment buildings to rise on the Bonney Watson properties adjacent Cal Anderson Park. November will bring the project’s first design review. A required assessment of the squat, blocky building’s potential as a historical landmark is now also on the calendar:

Landmarks Preservation Board: nomination of Bonney-Watson Funeral Home for landmark status

As we’ve noted about past seemingly doomed but requisite landmarks reviews, even if it can’t save the building, the documentation can help save the history. The nomination packet, embedded below, for the Bonney Watson mortuary is a worthwhile read:
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