Changing times, changing looks: The Wooden Stores at Sixth W. and W. Howe

1834 6th W. in 2017; southern window hidden.

The impact of Seattle’s streetcar lines on Queen Anne’s commercial development continues to be part of our daily lives. Even today, following the historic #24 streetcar route, the one that ran up the Counterbalance around a couple of corners and down Sixth to its terminus at W. McGraw, finds us still shopping in historic buildings all along the way. The active stores like Macrina Bakery, Top Pot Doughnuts or Molly Moon delight us still, but the abandoned ones, like the three at 1828, 1834 and 1900 6th Ave. W. at of W. Howe, draw my eye every day.

All three stores are on the east side of the wider street and were obviously built in response to the 1902 completion of the streetcar line. According to the city’s historic side sewer cards, the shop at 1828 connected to the sewer in 1909 while the one at 1834 on the southeastern corner of W. Howe tied up in 1910. The oldest of the three at 1900 6th Ave., connected in 1904 barely two years after the streetcar arrived. Oddly, we don’t learn the name of the shop owner until 1907. Unlike the great majority of the brick clad stores that survive today, these three are two-story wooden structures with at least one apartment over the shops. Fortunately, we have photographs of all three in 1937 and the early 1950s. The 1937 photos were snapped by an under-employed designer working for the Depression era Works Progress Administration. …Continue reading “Changing times, changing looks: The Wooden Stores at Sixth W. and W. Howe”

Remembering Queen Anne’s Neighborhood Grocery Stores:
Mulholland’s Cash Grocery

Owner Esther Mulholland and daughter Shirley in front of the Mulholland Cash Grocery, courtesy of Leslie Pannell Stockdale

Mulholland’s Cash Grocery was in the Uptown area of lower Queen Anne Hill, between Harrison and Thomas Streets, near the old Aasten Grocery, and a block from the Key Arena.

The store was purchased in 1939 from local grocer Rae Nakamura for $1,000 when Esther Mulholland’s husband John was dying of cancer, leaving her to raise three children. Oldest son Bob was 14, and her daughter Shirley and youngest son Jack were still in elementary school. They worked together as a family at the store, with each having a job to do.

It was located at 335 Queen Anne Avenue N. and had been operated as a grocery store since 1910 according to Polk’s city directories. When she bought it, Esther Mulholland paid $15.00 a month for rent. The first year she replaced the linoleum, and purchased a cash register for $51.00, a Burroughs adding machine for $35.70, and vegetable and fruit stands for $3.20 according to her carefully kept store ledger.

How hard was it to run a business in 1940? Given that the rent was $15.00, and total salaries were $4.00 a month the “bad” customer accounts that were long overdue were $12.78. By the end of the year the unpaid customer accounts had grown to $23.12. That is nearly six times the amount spent on monthly salaries.

The store sold fresh produce from the Pike Place Market, and bread and baked goods from Hanson Sunbeam Bakery. Beer came from Olympia, Rainer, and Lucky Lager because it was cheaper than the big Eastern brands. They also carried all the basic canned staples for customers’ convenience.

Page from Mulholland Cash Grocery journal courtesy of Leslie Pannell Stockdale

Oldest son Bob was allowed to miss a lot of class in high school so he could run the register for his mom. Eventually he was drafted into World War II and fought in the Pacific for two years. At that point Shirley was in high school and picked up the slack while Bob went to war.

The youngest son Jack went to Queen Anne High School and the store became a hangout “for young well-behaved boys,” according to the family. Soda pop and candy was very popular. Jack’s job was to sweep out the store inside and out each day.

The Mulholland family lived in a duplex home at 532 – 1st Ave West and because Esther didn’t drive, each night after closing they would all walk home.

According to granddaughter Leslie Pannell Stockdale, “the grocery store enabled the Mulholland family to survive at a very tough time losing their husband, father, and breadwinner to cancer in 1940. It was their livelihood and glued them together as a family. It was a lot of hard work but was always seen as a fun and social center for the family.”

The Mulholland family ran the store until the early 50’s when it was sold. Leslie Stockdale finds a pleasant coincidence that at the same time they started welcoming grandchildren to the family.

IS THIS ANOTHER MID-CENTURY LANDMARK?

Could the Century Building at 10 Harrison be Queen Anne’s next city landmark? The Queen Anne Historical Society believes it has both architectural and historical significance. Designed by Arne Bystrom and James Greco, the building is one of several distinctive lower Queen Anne mid-century modern buildings. With the Power Control Center at 157 Roy Street and perhaps all the surviving buildings of the 1962 Century 21 World’s Fair, the Century Building documents the resistance of Pacific Northwest architects after World War II to the International Style and to the ahistorical purism its forms represent. The Seafirst Building opposite the public library on 4th Avenue by the Seattle architectural firm NBBJ, is a good local example of the minimalist International Style.

Century Building southern elevation. Note freestanding elevator tower and garage.

 

Hidden by trees, the Century Building shows the influence of the World’s Fair designers and underscores the strong spirit of Pacific Northwest regionalism. Like 157 Roy St. and the Post Office building at Republican and First North, the Century Building gives up a significant portion of its site to parking. This …Continue reading “IS THIS ANOTHER MID-CENTURY LANDMARK?”