Joseph Vance, Developer

Joseph A. Vance (1872-1948), born in Quebec, Canada, moved to Tacoma in 1890 for work in railway construction.  By 1897, he had built and begun operating a small lumber mill operation in Malone, Washington — close to the site of Vance Creek County Park , which opened in 1988.  He founded the Vance Lumber Company in 1908, a highly successful milling operation which he sold in 1918.

Joseph Vance

Vance moved to Seattle and began to invest in real estate through the Vance Company.  He became involved with developing personal business and commercial properties in downtown Seattle, including the Vance Hotel (1927 at 620 Stewart Street, later known as Hotel Max); the Lloyd Building  (1928, named for one of Joseph’s sons and in 2010 designated a City of Seattle landmark); and the Joseph Vance Building (1929), where the Vance Company operated.  Victor W. Voorhees designed all of these buildings.

For the Vance Lumber Company,  Voorhees designed the 1926 remodel of the Seattle Engineering School, which trained auto workers, into an apartment house known as the Vance Apartments until 1930 and then the Marqueen  Apartments and now the MarQueen Hotel, in the Queen Anne neighborhood.  Voorhees produced the plan book catalog known as the Western Home Builder, a source of designs for homes throughout Seattle,  including on Queen Anne.

By 1931, the Vance Company had acquired hotels in downtown Seattle:  the Camlin and Hotel Continental — later known as Hotel Seattle and then renamed Hotel Earl for one of Joseph’s sons.  As documented HERE by historian Maureen Elenga, Earl died in a skating accident in the icy winter of 1935.

Vance’s son George took over the company in the 1930s and ran it until his death in 1981.  As of 2021, the Vance Corporation continues to develop and manage Seattle properties.
Reference:  “Vance Corporation returns to local ownership” (1998)                                                          Vance Building, 4th Avenue & Union St.

This Week in Queen Anne History

Howe at Nob Hill North: 10/12/62
Howe at Nob Hill North: 10/12/62

Neighbors inspect a tree that fell over Howe Street at Nob Hill Avenue North during the Columbus Day Storm that hit the Pacific Northwest on October 12, 1962.  The storm originated in the central Pacific Ocean as Typhoon Freda and became an extratropical cyclone as it moved over cooler waters and into the jet stream, producing sustained high winds and gusts of up to 80-180 mph that pummeled the coastline and western interior from Northern California to British Columbia.  The storm caused 46 deaths and injured hundreds more.  Damage was estimated at $250 million across the region, over $2 billion in today’s dollars.  Oregon suffered the most damage, accounting for $200 million of the estimated total.  The storm quickly weakened as it moved north past British Columbia.  Although the region has been threatened by extratropical cyclones in the intervening 58 years, none have surpassed or even come close to matching the violent and destructive force of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm.

 

Image credit: Seattle Times

Homer Harris (1916-2007)

Football Hero, Physician, Community Leader

Born and raised in Seattle, Homer Harris (1916-2007) grew up in his parents’ home near the Washington Park Arboretum.  In his early years he played football and other games in the park.

At Garfield High School, he became the first black captain of the football team, in 1933.  He attended the University of Iowa on a sports scholarship — choosing not to attend the University of Washington because of perceived racist attitudes toward black athletes.  He became the first African American player to captain a Big Ten team, and in 1937 earned the honor of Most Valuable Player.
At that time, the National Football League banned black players.  Harris got a job coaching football at A&T College (HBCU) in North Carolina.

Following his mother’s hope that he would become a physician, he attended Meharry Medical College (HBCU) in Tennessee.  After receiving his medical degree he interned in Kansas City, then trained in dermatology at the University of Illinois.


In 1955, Dr. Harris returned to Seattle.  He and his family resided at 7th Ave W & W Galer on Queen Anne in a house designed by renowned architect J. Lister Holmes.  It appears in the city’s survey of historic buildings.

He began his practice in downtown Seattle at the historic Medical Dental Building, and achieved considerable success.  In 1989 the Black Heritage Society of Washington State honored him as a Pioneer Black Doctor.

Washington State declared November 13, 2002 Dr. Homer Harris Day.
In November 2002, the Seattle Parks Foundation announced  that an anonymous donor had given $1.3 million to build a Central Area park, Homer Harris Park, which opened in May 2005.


Above: Karen Daubert, Homer Harris, Stimson Bullitt, & Ken Bounds attending May 2005 dedication of Homer Harris Park

Reference:  HistoryLink “Homer E. Harris Jr.  (1916-2007)