Preservation in Progress

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Archive for the ‘Fun Stuff’ Category

Heart This Place – Tractor Tavern

By Jane Davies

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. Next up, Director of Finance & Administration Jane Davies’ poem for the Tractor Tavern in Ballard:

 

The Tractor Tavern

Built in nineteen hundred and two

On the historic street, Ballard Avenue

At a time when shingles were the jam

And Ballard’s population was about 10 grand.

 

New Melody Tavern came before,

From the 40s until around ’94,

The Tractor Tavern then took the stage

And today it is still all the rage.

 

When again it opens up its door

Let’s meet at the Tractor Tavern once more

Rich in history, music and booze

With a night at the Tractor, you just can’t lose.

 

Above photo: Jane Davies

Featured photo: A historic image of the Tractor Tavern building, courtesy of the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives (via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Heart This Place – Madison Park Beach

By Brady Begin

To celebrate Preservation Month from home, we have launched Heart This Place – a new blog series from Historic Seattle staff. Each post will feature a different place that is significant to a member of our staff. In this installment, Engagement & Administration Coordinator Brady Begin celebrates Madison Park Beach.

I first visited Madison Park during the summer after I graduated from UW. I said the neighborhood was “honestly too cute for words,” but that didn’t stop me from coming up with cheesy Instagram captions like “city beach vibes” and nailing far too many hashtags to my posts like some sort of millenial Martin Luther.

I had taken a photo of a trio of surfboards near the bathhouse, which, in retrospect, cracks me up. Who surfs on Lake Washington? They were more for decoration than anything, an escapist aesthetic that inspired the collages you see below. Look, I’m no artist, but I wanted to do something creative for my contribution to Heart This Place.

While I’m lucky enough to actually live in Madison Park now, I’m quarantined at my family’s home in the suburbs because my apartment doesn’t get enough natural light to work from home (if the neighborhood is one big beach, then my apartment is a sea cave). I cut out images and text from old magazines that my parents were throwing out and mashed them up with two different photos of the shoreline.

A collage based on a recent photo of the beach. The historic structure on the right is a boathouse that connected to the boardwalk, with one of the boardwalk’s swings also in view (courtesy of UW Libraries). The canoes are from another historic image of the shoreline (courtesy of MOHAI). Click to enlarge.

The first is a recent photo of me walking along the beach, backed by a waterfront condo building. The second is a historic photo of the boardwalk and pavilions that once adorned the shore, before development of the Lake Washington Ship Canal lowered the lake’s water level and before a 1914 fire burned down the main structure – Beede’s Madison Street Pavilion. The historic images came from Pavilion days on Lake Washington, a post from the now-defunct Madison Park Blogger, which details the structures’ centrality to the burgeoning beachfront community between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

I’ll admit that I’m torn as to whether or not I think the beach would be better with the boardwalk and pavilions that once lined the shore. On the one hand, there’s obviously a lot of recreational and amusement value there. On the other, the beach we have know is more laid-back and its modesty generally reflects the slower, quieter character of the neighborhood. Regardless, Madison Park Beach is still a great in-city retreat for Seattleites in search of their own Margaritaville or Kokomo.

A collage based on a historic photo of the Madison Park boardwalk and pavilions (courtesy of UW Libraries). Click to enlarge.

In a few months I’ll be leaving Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia. I’ll miss a lot of things, including this little slice of paradise here in Madison Park. I’m holding out hope that we’ll be able to gather safely before then so we can go out and enjoy Seattle’s many public shores.

Cheers to you, little beach village!

Color Your Own Showbox Marquee!

Are you looking for something fun to do while staying safe indoors? Robb Hamilton of Simcoe Industries has shared a copy of his original pen and ink drawing of The Showbox for you to print and color yourself. You can even write your own message in the marquee!

We can’t wait to see what you create – tag us in a Facebook or Instagram post, and don’t forget to use the hashtag #savetheshowbox. You can also email your completed marquee to us at info@historicseattle.org! Read on to learn about how Robb got started drawing old signs of Seattle.

The following is the second in a series of guest blog posts submitted by members of the Historic Seattle community. The views and opinions expressed in guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Historic Seattle.

If you have an idea for a future post, please send a draft to info@historicseattle.org. You can review the guidelines here.

By Robb Hamilton

After the Four Seas in the International District closed a few years ago, I made a pen and ink drawing of the sign for my brother as it was the spot where he met his friends before and after Seahawks games. It elicited such a positive reaction that I started to draw more old signs from Seattle, including Art’s Plaza, Ying’s, and Imperial Lanes. Although none of these signs were architecturally or historically significant, they were treasured by people who grew up in the city for the memories they invoked.

When I learned that Historic Seattle was involved in trying to save The Showbox, I got the idea to make a poster of the original Showbox marquee which I could sell to raise funds for the preservation effort. I’ve seen tons of shows at The Showbox and the thought of losing it bothers me greatly. Just as my brother had a strong emotional tie to the Four Seas, lots of folks in Seattle have similar reactions to The Showbox.

Since we all need activities to keep us busy during quarantine, here is a copy of my original pen and ink drawing. Feel free to color in the neon tubes and letters and write your favorite show on the marquee (my fav was Screaming Trees).

Click the image below to download and print the PDF:

Robb Hamilton is an illustrator from Seattle. He likes drawing old signs. Simcoe Industries is named after the Simcoe Mountains in Klickitat County where his grandparents lived.

We want to hear from you!

Are you hunkered down at home and looking for something creative to do? For the first time ever, Historic Seattle is opening up our blog – Preservation in Progress – to volunteer submissions from guest contributors!

Do you have a cool story to share about a meaningful place in Seattle, or the people behind it? Knowledge about restoring historic buildings? Do you want to highlight a threatened place or underappreciated building? Take a deep dive into how gentrification and displacement has impacted your community? Or can you share a peek inside your historic home?

We are now accepting submissions on a rolling basis. Please send a draft of your content to info@historicseattle.org and our staff will review it as time allows. Not all submissions will be selected, but we appreciate the interest of everyone who participates!

If you have any questions, please contact us at the email above. The rules: No prejudiced or biased content. No explicit language or graphic images, please. Submissions must relate to Seattle’s history and/or historic preservation. Have fun and get creative!

Bringing the Community Together One Event at a Time

In case you haven’t noticed, the Georgetown neighborhood has it going on! Brimming with artistic creativity, rich in history, and packed with cool industrial architecture, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood managed to level up again last fall with the opening of The Palace Theatre & Art Bar, AKA “Georgetown’s first gay bar.” For this month’s VivaCity feature, Historic Seattle chatted with the venue’s proprietor, Sylvia O’Stayformore, to learn how this flourishing community gathering place came to be and how it fulfills its mission to bring the community together one event at a time.

Sylvia’s business partner in the Palace, Carlos Paradinja Jr., originally opened a coffee shop (The Conservatory) in the space about 5 years ago. Sylvia explained, “The Conservatory was not only a café, but also an artists’ salon type of space that offered art classes and workshops. While it was successful in many ways, it was ultimately not earning enough to sustain itself. So last September, Carlos came to me and said, ‘I either need to close up shop, or do something different.’ Meanwhile, I had recently lost my corporate daytime gig and ‘Bacon Strip,’ Seattle’s longest standing drag show which I produce, was looking for a new place to flourish. I said to Carlos, ‘Since coffee wasn’t working, why don’t we try alcohol, and keep it a performance space and let me be the booker of the talent and just program the hell out it and see what that does.” And thus, the Palace Theatre & Art Bar was born.

Sylvia O'Stayformore, a drag queen in a blonde wig and blue and white checkered dress, calls out bingo numbers. In front of her are a collection of colorful bingo balls.

Sylvia O’Stayformore calls bingo at The Palace

About the name, Sylvia said, “The name actually comes from the name of the building. It originally opened in 1903 as The Palace Hotel and Bar, owned by Fred Marino. It was a workman’s hotel, and there was the Palace Bar, which is where the Seattle Tavern pool hall now is, there was a hardware store in our space, and a cardroom where Star Brass is. But nothing was called The Palace anymore. It’s an amazing name so I said, why don’t we call it ‘The Palace,’ and then “Theatre’ since that’s what we want to do, and ‘Art Bar’ so people know that it’s strong in art and creativity. And by the way, it’s also a gay bar.”

The Palace Theatre & Art Bar is a bar with a mission, “to bring the community together one event at a time.” Sylvia said, “We’re really trying to grow with community events and be a gathering place where you find something you won’t at other bars. The things we try to program are like the monthly Seattle Playwrights Salon. There’s a club made up of playwright aficionados that goes out and looks for new plays that have been written by local playwrights and we give them the space to have those plays read out by local actors on stage. We have free local jazz nights including jazz trio Hilltop Jazz Project and others, there’s a piano sing along night where you bring in your own sheet music, and ‘An Unexpected Improv Night’. We didn’t want it to be an all drag kind of place but rather a place where people say, ‘let’s see what kind of creative thing is happening at The Palace and go hang there.’”

A large group of people seated near the stage at The Palace. 5 people are on stage, each with a stand for the scripts they read from.

The Palace during a performance

About Georgetown, Sylvia said “I’ve been in love with Georgetown since I moved to Seattle in the early aughts. I love that it hasn’t been gentrified as much as other places. It’s like those industrial parts of Seattle that are going away so fast, but it’s been stubborn, it’s stayed alive. Even after prohibition ripped its main money source away from it, it was still able to survive.” When Sylvia isn’t in Georgetown at The Palace, she can usually be found calling out bingo. “I call for 12 different senior centers from Camano Island all the way down to Des Moines.”

Head on down to Georgetown to see for yourself what it’s all about. Check out the Palace Theater & Art Bar event calendar for upcoming events like the free Trailer Park Drag Strip, an annual show that takes place on August 10 as part of August’s Art Attack, Georgetown’s monthly art event.

PalaceArtBar.com

Eyes of the Totem

Eyes of the Totem film still

A silent movie, shot in 1926 around Tacoma and thought to be lost forever, was recently rediscovered by Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Office and is scheduled to be re-premiered on September 18, 2015, at Tacoma’s historic Rialto Theatre. The film, The Eyes of the Totem, was directed by the legendary W.S. Van Dyke through H.C. Weaver Studios, which operated in a large facility near Titlow Beach nearly 90 years ago. The film took its name from the still standing Tacoma Hotel totem pole, and features historic sites around Tacoma and Mount Rainier as its backdrop.

Van Dyke made two other films for Weaver Studios before going on to Hollywood to direct The Thin Man series and Tarzan the Ape Man. Weaver Productions went under when the public’s attention turned from silent films to movies with sound. Historians spent decades searching for a remnant of the cinematic work, but came up empty, until Lauren Hoogkamer, Tacoma’s Historic Preservation Coordinator, stepped in last year. “Right away I was pretty confident that I was going to find it,” said Hoogkamer, “As an historian and a journalist, I always feel you can find it if you really dig.”

Hoogkamer contacted the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which has a collection of Van Dyke’s papers. Among the collection were the five reels of Eyes of the Totem, which hadn’t been opened from their case since the 1920s. When asked about the cost to get the film back to Tacoma, the museum gave a $40,000 fee; the cost was eventually negotiated down to $4,500.

In late 2014, the reels were digitally transferred to a DVD. Surprisingly, after more than 80 years, it was discovered that the fragile nitrate film had experienced minimal damage. It was a “one in a million find,” according to Hoogkamer.

As part of its re-release, local composer John Christopher Bayman is working on an original musical score to accompany the silent film. “This movie strikes me as having a sense of humor,” Bayman said, “I’m so glad this movie was found and the story can be told.”

The film is a crime tale that goes unsolved “until the eyes of the totem shed light on the mystery,” said Hoogkamer. An exhibition trailer will be produced, along with additional programming and background materials highlighting the film’s historic context.

A group of dedicated history buffs and Tacoma-philes, known as Team Totem, is working to bring the film back to Tacoma and restoring the five-reel feature film. They’re seeking to raise $25,000 for the costs of composing that score, transferring the film from its original nitrate, and preparing the other programming.

If you’d like to be a part of this unique opportunity to see Tacoma’s history come to life, there’s a Kickstarter campaign where you can donate and read more about the film, the studio, and the golden era of film in Tacoma.

Supporter thank yous include Beautiful Angle posters, Eyes of the Totem t-shirts, original letterpress artwork, seats to exclusive early premiere screenings, and more. At last check they had raised $13,755 of the $25,000 goal, with 26 days left! The deadline to contribute through Kickstarter is June 29, 2015.

Photos: Eyes of the Totem film stills courtesy of Team Totem

Happy Holidays From MAin2!

Modern Gingerbread House, built by some creative Seattle preservationists / Photo: R. Frestedt

Gingerbread House Goes Mod

What better way to get into the spirit of the season than to build a Modern style gingerbread house?!  Like a real mid-century Modern home in an older neighborhood, this one stands out among the traditional designs with gable roofs. Inspired by the Rohrer House in Seattle (recently nominated by the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board and up for landmark designation on January 5, 2011), some local preservationists got their creative heads together and produced a smashing gingerbread house. We bet it was great fun to design and build the house. MAin2 sure digs it so we’re sharing it with you. Just spreading the joy…

Looking forward to 2011! Thanks for following MAin2 in 2010, our inaugural year.

Below is list of “building” materials for the gingerbread house:

  • Structural system and cladding – homemade gingerbread
  • Roof material – crushed Chic-o-stick
  • Windows/front door – melted Butterscotch rounds, vermicelli pasta
  • Chimney – sugar wafers, bubble gum, vermicelli pasta, Pocky sticks

Garden materials:

  • NECCO wafers (paving stones, garden art)
  • Fun dip (pool)
  • Pocky sticks (borders)
  • Nerds (wreath)
  • Sugar wafers (low wall)
  • Rye crisp crackers (benches)
  • Gum drops (throughout)
  • Bubble gum
  • Chocolate mint malt ball (entry light)
  • Various gummy candies
  • Sesame candy wafers