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CHS Re:Take | Life at 12th and Union, 1957 and 2011

Fast fact: Sir Mix-a-Lot’s favorite store Ferrari of Seattle was a Lincoln-Mercury dealership from 1948 to 1963.

This Re:Take is held in place for us by Pike/Pine historian and CHS contributor Brendan McKeon. He’s printed out a copy of the slide which I found in a box in an antique store’s bargain bins. Disturbingly, I recognized the intersection immediately, even with just the dim skylight as illumination. This is 12th Ave E and E Union, right where E Madison cuts through diagonally.

Lee Moran Co.
The car at the stop sign on 12th is screaming late-40s, but dealership owner Lee Moran has painted “HERE NOW – THE BIG M TURNPIKE CRUISER” on his storefront window. The Mercury Turnpike Cruiser was only sold in 1957 and 1958, so there’s a date for the photo.

Written on the border of the slide is the caption “Lee’s Place, Seattle, Wash.” in a very familiar fashion. Perhaps it was taken by a friend?

Sensing a story, I grabbed a couple of other slides from the same box. One labeled “Front Moran House” I discovered was taken at 1140 Parkside Drive East in Broadmoor. The other labeled “Callista – Lee – Mrs Schill” turned out be Callista Schill Moran, Lee Moran, and Margaret Schill. That’s Lee, his wife and his mother-in-law.

Callista – Lee – Mrs. Schill, 1957

1140 Parkside Drive East in 1957

“Lee’s Place” at 1401 E Union

Death of a Salesman
Lee Moran was vice president in charge of exhibits for Century 21, but died tragically just weeks before opening day of the world’s fair. By 1962 he expanded his car dealership to Fiats (the “poor man’s Ferrari” of their day) which he sold down in the Utrecht building by Melrose Market at Pike and Melrose and Minor. Lee was the Fiat distributor for all of the Pacific Northwest, and in March of 1962 he attended a Fiat conference in New York. His flight back to the vacation home in Palm Springs was ill-fated, however. American Airlines Flight 1 crashed into Jamaica Bay, killing 100% of the 95 people on board (even the 1%).

How did Lee’s photos suddenly end up in an antique store in 2011? I ran across the answer in this obituary:

Callista Schill Moran Ostrander, March 22, 1908 ~ July 7, 2010

… Her greatest love, however, was to travel the world and experience the richness of different cultures. She developed a great interest in photography… During the last few years of her life, she spent her time creating detailed albums documenting her many trips. She wanted her legacy to be a visual history captured with her camera…

Callista, thank you for holding on to this photo of 12th and Union all this time. We’re sorry you didn’t make it to a 103rd year and catalog the few decades that you spent with Lee.

Visual History
Here’s a photo of Callista touring the Hudson River in New York in 1968. She looks fabulous in her fur-trimmed red jacket. You can just make out the Empire State Building on the far left. There are a few more photos of New York, and a ton from an uncatalogued trip to Australia, over at Hunter’s Antiques in Uptown. Look for the boxes marked “Mrs. Moran” or “T. Ostrander”. Let me know if you find a photograph of Capitol Hill and we can piece together its history.

Callista in NY, 1968

In case you missed them, here are the last few Re:Takes on CHS:

Local history expert Rob Ketcherside shares his vision of the past and present with his Re:Take series of works on CHS and other Seattle sites.

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8 years ago

The flight from which Mr. Moran did not return is the same one featured in an episode of “Mad Men”:

Great work as always, Rob.

Robert Ketcherside
8 years ago

Thanks for the link — looks like I’ll start watching Mad Men from season 2 episode 2. :)

8 years ago

Love your info on Callista and Lee Moran but that is not a picture of Callista in NY in 1968. I don’t know who that woman is. If you want more info contact me I would love to “chat.” Ellen

George Hunter
8 years ago

Hello Mine name is George Hunter I’m the owner of Hunters Antique’s , I’ve pretty much have had a photo bin at the shop since I opened in 1986 . I have people come from all over to my shop that know of us , or when there just in town and happen to find me , come in for a few minutes and stumble onto the photo box , they tell me that they were there for just a quick look , and before they know it ,a half hour to two hours have gone by . I see it happen all the time , it’s usually younger people they look at the box with all those old photo’s of people they probably will never know , but the places in the background catches their eye and before you know it they are sitting on the floor making piles of photo’s. The bin has around 10,000 to 15,000 photo’s and slides from the 1920’s to the 1970’s.