Betty Bowen, Cultural Activist

Betty Bowen with Seattle Art Museum founder Dr. Richard Fuller

Queen Anne resident Betty Bowen (1918-1977) played a major role in Seattle cultural life — as assistant director of the Seattle Art Museum, as a civic activist on behalf of the arts and historic preservation, and a promoter of Seattle artists.

Born Betty Cornelius in Kent, Washington to a family tracing its roots to Western Washington’s early settlers, she earned an English degree from the University of Washington.  She worked briefly as a reporter for The Seattle Times, then as women’s editor for the Seattle Star. She married John Bowen, captain of ships that laid undersea cables.

During the 1950s, Bowen divided her time between volunteering and public relations work. Dr. Richard Fuller, founder of the Seattle Art Museum, hired her as publicist, then promoted her to assistant director – and she continued in that role until Fuller retired in 1973.  She came to know many of the city’s artists.

Betty Bowen played an active part in civic affairs, helping organize support for the arts and for historic preservation.  An original member of the Seattle Arts Commission (established 1971), a founding member of the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Center, and a founding member and chair of the Allied Arts Historic Preservation Committee, she helped organize one of the successful efforts to preserve the Pike Place Market as a designated historic district, and served on the board of Friends of the Market. …Continue reading “Betty Bowen, Cultural Activist”

Emily Inez Denny — Seattle Pioneer

Emily Inez Denny was born in Seattle in 1853. She was the first white child born in Seattle and the oldest child of pioneers David and Louisa Boren Denny.

Louisa, Madge, David, and Emily Denny ca. 1861

Inez and her sister Madge took classes at the Territorial University when it opened in 1860. Inez later recounted that each pupil had a small slate on which lessons were written, as paper was expensive and in short supply on the frontier. The girls cleaned their slates with a sponge attached to the slate by a string and water kept in a little bottle in their pockets. The boys, on the other hand, often didn’t bother with the sponge and water, but would spit on the slate or lick it off and dry it with a sleeve. …Continue reading “Emily Inez Denny — Seattle Pioneer”

John Hay School’s First Custodian (?)

Charles Wilhelm Dahlberg at John Hay School.

 

The society just received this picture of Mr. Dahlberg from his great-grandson Scott Dahlberg. Scott is a 1962 graduate of Queen Anne High School. Charles Wilhelm immigrated to the United States from Stockholm, Sweden where he trained as a boiler maker. Boiler operation was a key function of school janitors, so getting this job in 1905 is not unreasonable. There is some information indicating that Charles Wilhelm continued to serve at John Hay until at least 1940 when he was 83. This photograph makes that highly likely since the girl standing behind Mr. Dahlberg is wearing an outfit that appears to be from that period. Mr. Dahlberg is posing at the southwest corner of the covered outdoor play area on the second John Hay School, the brick building on Boston St. Mr. Dahlberg died in 1944.

According to the Seattle Daily Times of July 25, 1904 Charles Wilhelm and his wife Bessie, received a permit to build a one-and-a-half story cottage worth $1,800 at 1937 7th Ave West on July 23, 1904. They probably moved into their new house some time in 1905, the very same year the school district constructed the first John Hay School. The city directory lists their daughter Esther, a stenographer as living there then.

When they moved in, there was no Willcox Wall or Queen Anne Boulevard. Today, the idea of working class folks building a house on the boulevard would be astounding. It tells a lot about how the neighborhood has changed over the last century or so.

The east elevation of the Dahlberg house today facing the Willcox Wall.

 

Although there is no ambiguity about the date of construction, the city’s side sewer record hints that the house may have been moved and set on a new foundation a few years after its construction. The side sewer map raises this possibility because sewer lines usually get inspected by the city when they are installed. The side sewer record for the Dahlberg house gives the date of inspection as September 27, 1911 well after the date of construction. Also, the side sewer of the house next door to the Dahlberg’s was inspected the same day while three of the houses to the north of theirs were inspected in 1910. Additional research may show that the houses got moved to the west a bit to make room for the Willcox Wall which they all face across a very narrow strip of the street.

The two houses under construction behind the Dahlberg House. Photo taken 3/24/17.

 

A visit to the Dahlberg house today (3/24/2017) set off alarms, because there is a notice in the front yard about the long narrow lot being subdivided into three lots suggested that the old house was set for demolition. A trip to the back yard pleasantly revealed two small houses under construction behind the house, so the Dahlberg’s place may be saved after all.