On this day in 1911, Ed Foster and Clara Miller made headlines in Seattle because one was white and one was black, and they dared to marry on Capitol Hill.
FOSTER: Ed Foster and his siblings were the first literate generation in their family. His handwriting was still bad enough that transcriptions of the wedding records, including contemporary sources, mistakenly name him C. D. Foster. He was born in 1879 in Marion, Alabama, on the farm worked by his parents and grandparents. Marion is in the Black Belt of Alabama, known for its dark, rich soil and the Black slave labor that sowed cotton in it. About sixty miles east of Marion is Montgomery, the first capital of the Confederacy. After the Union defeated them, Ed’s grandfather was paid to work land for the first time in his life. The Fosters were a Black family. Ed Foster was the son of freed slaves. The Fosters were lucky to be in Perry County, the most progressive county in Alabama after the Civil War. That meant they had the chance to improve their futures. Ed and his older siblings Joe and May attended Lincoln Normal School, founded by freed slaves to lift up their children through education. But Perry County was still not a Utopia. As one scholar put it,
“Only a handful of people were hanged, maimed, shot, whipped, or killed on account of prejudice between 1865 and 1874 [in Perry County]”. Bertis English, “A Black Belt Anomaly”. Alabama Review, 2009.
Contrast those deaths to the chaos sowed by the nascent Ku Klux Klan across the rest of Alabama, and Perry County was a relative paradise. His family was trapped in slavery in the South for generations. Freed, and given a basic education, Ed and his siblings made their way to Puget Sound by 1910. Seattle was in national headlines in the lead up to and execution of the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition in 1909, a possible explanation for their long move. They might have been drawn by a special edition of the Black newspaper Seattle Republican that circulated from 1907 to 1909. It profiled the success of Black citizens with images of houses, descriptions of businesses, and accounts of farms of 10s or 100s of acres. Continue reading
The Capitol Hill Historical Society has focused its research and preservation efforts on buildings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Now the group can turn some of its attention to a more recent, diverse architectural history: Mid-Century Modern multifamily residential buildings constructed from the post World War II-era up until the late 1970s.
“I’m very excited about this kind of being a step in the direction of closing the historical gap between that auto row-era and today,” said Tom Heuser, board president of the nonprofit. “We have this kind of interlude period between now and then that hasn’t been very well covered and I think this is definitely a springboard for more of that.”
The Pike/Pine auto row-era has been of particular focus, a period in the first part of the twentieth century when the Pike/Pine corridor became the hub of car dealerships in Seattle.
This project is funded with a $10,000 King County 4Culture grant and will consist of a ten-building survey of Mid-Century Modern architecture, including Brutalist and California Modern styles.
Photographer and CHHS member Lana Blinderman initially proposed the project idea to Heuser after noticing that some mid-century buildings seemed to be disappearing.
“You know some of them are being remodeled and not in a way that is accurate or true to the original style and some of them were just being demolished,” Blinderman said. “I thought: ‘Wow, nobody’s documenting these buildings and this is just such a loss, and despite all the mid-century revival that people seem to be crazy about there was no organized documentation happening.’” Continue reading
This CHS History Classic first ran in 2016. With many of our favorite Capitol Hill spaces facing an uncertain future, let’s look again at this important block’s place in the neighborhood’s history.
By Robert Ketcherside
Julia’s has become one of the most venerable nightlife spaces in Seattle. The drag-bar-restaurant has been open for 15 years now, and I think you qualify as a Capitol Hill old-timer if you remember further back than that.
The building’s time as Ileen’s and Ernie Steele’s is worth going over again for the newcomers. And hey, it seems the first few decades of the building need to be covered for the first time.
In the beginning
The Seattle Public Library’s online 1907 real estate map shows that things were quite different for Julia’s lot. There were just a couple of tiny buildings here along Broadway that didn’t even deserve addresses. There was a house on Thomas Street. Continue reading