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Capitol Hill Historical Society | Rentals to Radiators — UMadBro part 2: Straight from Arthur Denny

In Part 1 we learned about the weird streets of UMadBro where the histories of Union, Madison, and Broadway meet. For Part 2, we’ll trace ownership of the property from the start of Seattle to the fallen building’s construction.

Werett’s Addition was the original name of UMadBro, the triangle formed by Union, Madison and Broadway. It was made from land at the very eastern end of Arthur Denny’s land claim, created at the founding of Seattle in 1852. It was a left over triangle after Madison Street cut through the rectangle.

1856 survey map of Seattle, zoomed to Capitol Hill and the Central District, showing Arthur Denny’s claim and John Nagle’s house

Terry wasn’t even mad: Arthur Denny, William Bell and Carson Boren famously abandoned Charles Terry and the original settlement at Alki point during the winter of 1852.They found land on the east side of Elliott Bay and took side-by-side land claims. Arthur Denny’s claim went from the waterfront east to about today’s 12th Avenue, and south to Cherry Street.

Denny apparently sold some of his land at the far east edge to James Campbell, whose land claim included odds and ends around other claims to the east of Denny.

That part of Campbell’s claim and Denny’s land was sold to George Edes and N.B. Knight, who formed the Edes and Knight Addition in 1870. Their addition left out one rectangular chunk in the northwest corner covering block 1, block 8, and part of block 9.

UMadBro and the 12th Mang: HistoryLink’s articles on Madison Valley and Madison Park describe Madison Street originating as a rough road in about 1865. That explains why Edes and Knight left two and a half blocks unplatted, because the road cut through them diagonally. Edes and Knight sold the land north and south of Madison and they were platted as Werett’s Addition to the north in 1882 and the Miles Addition to the south in 1883.

Both of these were within the land that originally was Arthur Denny’s plat. Werett is the part we care about, bound by Union, Madison, and Broadway – and dubbed UMadBro.

Miles today is within Seattle University, bound by Madison, 12th, and vacated Spring Street. If we take the MA from Madison and the NG from Spring, the Seattle U half can be known as “The 12th Mang”.

Snippet of Edes amd Knight Addition 1870 plat map, showing undeveloped blocks reserved for Madison Street which is roughly the blue lines.

Forgotten, some for very good reason: There does not appear to be anything written about James Campbell, where he came from or where he went. Many of the folks who filed land claims in Seattle never visited the city. That’s likely true for Campbell, who obtained the land from the U.S. government via an 1820 Land Act purchase. The next owners, George Edes and N. B. Knight, both lived in Salem, Oregon, hinting that maybe Campbell came from there too.

George Edes was Sheriff of Marion County, Oregon when they filed the Edes and Knight Addition paperwork. He died in the winter of 1884, months before he and his wife Rhoda planned to move from Salem to Seattle.

Napoleon Bonaparte Knight, for his part, was infamous for his involvement in the Civil War in an event called Corbit’s Charge. At age 21, with no experience and purely due to entitlement, he became Colonel of an undersized Delaware cavalry battalion in the Union army. His unit saw only one major battle, when his 100 men on horseback charged into a vast mass of several thousand Confederate soldiers.

Perhaps he hoped for an outcome like Pizzaro against the Incas, but he had neither pestilence nor fear on his side. Knight was one of the few who were not captured: he conveniently skipped the battle to drink at a pub. Look up Corbit’s Charge to find out more, or read this long article about Mr. Knight, “who has been forgotten for very good reason”. Knight became a prominent Salem, Oregon lawyer.

Amazingly there is a photo of N. B. Knight showing off on horseback, supposedly the day of Corbit’s Charge, June 29, 1863. (U.S. Military Institute via Crossroads of War via Wikimedia)

Edes and Knight sold the UMadBro triangle to George Werett. In 1882 he filed his addition and gave his name to the road that later became Broadway Court. Werett introduced socioeconomic diversity to the ownership trail. In 1882 he was a miner living on Madison Street. Later he was a laborer at shipbuilder Moran Brothers and at Vulcan Iron Works.

Werett subdivided the land into lots that he sold to speculators, families looking to build a home, and property developers who put up divided dwelling with that era’s small-scale rental units: boarding houses and two-, three-, and four-plexes.

Owned by a native and a newcomer: 953 East Union Street’s legal name was Block 2, Lot 14 of Werett’s Addition. It shared that lot with several other houses over the years. But until 1889 it was empty.

The lot was first purchased by Ulrich A. Carr, a young baker who lived at 5th and Cherry, where Seattle City Hall is today. He was a rare native Seattleite, born here in 1861 to pioneers Edmund Carr and Olivia Holgate. Family legend says that Ulrich and his siblings were babysat on occasion by Chief Seattle’s daughter Angeline.

Ulrich sold the lot just a year later in 1883 to J. D. McDermott. If you can’t relate to Carr’s Seattle roots, maybe McDermott will resonate with you. McDermott was a fresh newcomer to Seattle. He was born in Cleveland but came to Seattle via silver mines in Colorado, where he worked as a carpenter. He was not listed in Seattle’s 1882 directory, but his second son was born here in January 1883. And by 1885 McDermott was paying to advertise his furniture store with its prime First and Cherry location. His newcomer status was probably a sign of restlessness. In 1890 McDermott built a home on remote Mercer Island, but he moved to Belltown in the late 1890s, and then lived briefly with his family at Broadway and Mercer where Corvus and Company is today. Then of course he headed to the gold rush in Nome in 1899.

McDermott didn’t even hold onto the UMadBro lot for a year. Later in 1883 he sold to William H. White.

Warhorse Bill: White added many accomplishments to his surprising record and picked up a great nickname while owner of our UMadBro lot. His family apparently helped with the Underground Railroad, and he was a Union veteran of the Civil War prior to arriving in Seattle. Here he was a prominent lawyer and judge, serving as City Attorney, Washington Territory Attorney, and elected to the Territorial Legistature. He lived across from UMadBro at Madison and Broadway through the 1880s and owned other property in the area.

After purchasing our lot he picked up the nickname “Warhorse Bill” for his tireless campaigning as candidate for Washington Territory’s seat in Congress in 1884. That year he also became Washington Territory’s Mason Grand Master. In 1886 Warhorse Bill was a member of the Home Guard militia that tried to defend Chinese residents from racist mobs. In 1885 he was appointed U.S. District Attorney, and held that position until he sold the UMadBro lot in 1889.

White sold the lot to real estate dealer N. B. Colt in 1889. Like previous owner J. D. McDermott, N. B. Colt held it for less than a year before selling to Sarah Dingwall.

Lot’s first buildings: From 1889 to 1899 the lot was owned by Sarah Dingwall. She came to the area with her husband Roderick H. Dingwall and children just a year earlier, moving from Canada to Michigan to Seattle. They owned a farm between Redmond and Tolt. It was on what’s now Union Hill Road including the current horse trainer Thumbs Up Farm. But the family lived in the UMadBro neighborhood at least part-time, probably to give their kids access to school and perhaps for Roderick to find winter labor.

The Dingwalls built two houses on the lot in the second half of 1889. They appear in the PI’s thorough listing of every structure built after the Great Fire:

R. H. Dingwall, two dwellings, corner Williamson and Seneca – January 1, 1890 Seattle P-I

(Williamson was used interchangeably with Werett Street, and became 10th and then Broadway Court. “Seneca” is a repeated misprint in the article for Division Street, which is now Union Street.)

The two houses are even visible in the 1891 bird’s eye view of Seattle:

Zoom in on UMadBro in Library of Congress’s 1891 Birds-eye-view of Seattle.The two Dingwall homes, which predated 953 E. Union, are indicated near the corner.

The Dingwalls continued splitting time between Redmond and Seattle, working their farm during the sunny months. In 1897 their son Dan married Maggie Tosh, daughter of a prominent Redmond family that still has a road and creek named after them. The Eastside Heritage Center even has Maggie’s 122-year-old wedding dress in their collections.

Neither of the two UMadBro buildings was ever listed as the Dingwall residence, so they were apparently rentals. Both were missing when the Dingwalls sold the property in 1899. It’s possible that they move the buildings to another property, or sold them separately. Fire was also common: the Dingwall home in Michigan burned down in 1886.

Lung breathes new life: Lot 14 of UMadBro was sold by the Dingwalls in 1899 to Henry Lung, who recently changed professions from educator, lawyer, and miner to property manager and real estate speculator. He promptly constructed 4 identical small houses numbered 1134 to 1142 10th Ave.

One of those, turned sideways to accommodate the widened Union Street, became 953 East Union Street. The remnants of that house – converted for auto row use as a radiator shop – were knocked over in May to make way for a current-era rental: a new, seven story apartment building.


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Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
2 years ago

Thank you, Robert, for a very interesting article! You must have done a very time-consuming amount of research to put it together….much appreciated!