Suffering Soffits!

You might say that I was startled to learn that beadboard, painted and unpainted, appears throughout our Queen Anne neighborhoods on pre-World War II houses.  But my failure is worse.  As a recent stroll down the north side of Queen Anne to Fremont revealed, it isn’t just beadboard.  I’ve simply never paid much attention to unpainted porch soffits, and they are everywhere.  Unpainted soffits of beadboard, knotty pine, ash and other woods appear on a multitude of traditional and modern neighborhood buildings.  Faced with a revelation a neglect of this magnitude, Captain Haddock, the belligerent pal of the Belgian comic strip hero Tintin, would surely have proclaimed, “Suffering Soffits!”

To begin with, a soffit is essentially the underside of architectural features such as porches, eaves and even arches.  In a wooden building, a soffit protects rafters from the weather, birds, wasp nests, and other unwanted intruders from below — just as wooden shakes or asphalt shingles protect them from above.  Where historic plaster and lath or modern-day drywall form ceilings inside buildings, soffits do it on the outside.

According to a recently updated article in the Old House Journal, “Behind the Scenes with Beadboard,” by John Leeke, beadboard flourished in the United States between 1880 and the 1930s.  It appears as a wall covering called wainscoting and on the soffit of porches.  When it appears as a soffit it also sports a fancy middle French name plancier.  Pronounced plan seer, the word means soffit.  Digging into my now rusty knowledge of French philology, I think the word meant ‘board-like,’ or (no surprise) ‘plank-like.’   In modern French, a planche is a board or a plank; of that, I am sure!

These days you can buy beadboard at Home Depot in 4’ by 8’ sheets, but I think of the beadboard on old houses on Queen Anne as upside-down flooring.  That’s because they are narrow 3- or 4-inch boards which are edge-matched or tongue-in-groove.  Nails tacked through the tongue are hidden from view.  The installed boards show 2 ¼ or 3 ¼ inches of wood because the hidden tongues measure about ¾ inch.  According to Leeke, the boards ranged in thickness from ¾ inch to as thin as inch.

                                                             Above:  a great unpainted porch soffit on 2nd Ave. N.

It comes as no surprise that the most distinctive feature of beadboard is the half round bead (!) along which runs a quirk or deep recess.  All that busyness happens along the top of the groove and serves to hide the seam between the two planks.  Beadboard can be painted, oiled, varnished or even treated with specialized coverings such as linseed, teak or tung oil.  Polyurethane, which has a plasticky look and feel, is often used, even though it is sure to peel off in time.

On my Craftsman Bungalow on First Ave. N., the soffits are painted.

Beadboard:  bead may be drowned in paint; a historical fixture

Without doing a lot of delicate scraping and paint removal that I am unwilling to do, I can’t be sure they were left bare in 1907.  Nearly all the soffits down the hill are edge-matched (tongue in groove) beadboard.  There are a fair number of unpainted porch soffits on Second Ave. N. below Queen Anne Drive.  I think they look great, but in my many strolls around the neighborhood straining my neck to observe every soffit, I find that most of them are painted.

That said, you might be stunned to learn that I have become a great fan of varnished or oiled soffits.  I haven’t figured out why people went to the trouble unless it was simply an aesthetic choice.  A colleague on the Board of the Queen Anne Historical Society is busy rehabilitating a house on Queen Anne.  Her house will sport unpainted beadboard soffits finished with a product called Warhorse which was introduced about 1907 — the same time her house and mine were built.  My board colleague taught me about unpainted soffits in the first place.

Then I went looking for them everywhere.  I can report that the new garage on the alley at W. Boston between 1st and 2nd W. has a tiny unpainted soffit over its roll up door.  When I asked the garage owners how they had known to treat the soffit that way, they attributed the choice to their painter.  Obviously, traditions have lasting value in the trades!

                                    Beautifully maintained soffit at 2919 2nd Ave N.

To that point, there is a new house on the northwest corner of W. Prospect and First Ave W. that adopts the soffit feature handily.  Indeed, the soffit actually wraps down the northern wall of the house to embrace the entranceway.

                                                   House of many planes at 1101 1st Ave W.  Built in 2020

 

                                                    Soffit wrapping to  vertical wall at 1101 1st Ave. W.

Still in Queen Anne, you’ll find a big wooden soffit gracing the new building on the parking lot of the former Bleitz Funeral Home at Florentia and 3rd Ave.

                                 Building on Florentia at Bleitz site looking westerly

Frankly, I think it is beautiful. It is apparently constructed of edge-matched knotty pine.  I don’t know how it is finished, but the wood isn’t stained.

                                Knotty pine soffit looking north at Bleitz site

It is a grand addition to our neighborhood.

                                   Soffit at Tableau Building 744 N. 34th St.
                                                   Entrance and Canopy with wooden soffit at Tableau

Just across the canal in Fremont, the Tableau building and the brand-new Watershed, both under the Aurora Bridge on the north side of N. 34th St. ,have elegant wooden soffits.

Aurora Bridge above the Watershed                                            Soffits at Watershed, 900 N. 34th St.

The most elegant modern soffit to attract my attention isn’t in the neighborhood.  It is on the new 2+U Building south of SAM at 1223 Second Ave.  Designed by Graham Baba, its construction was overseen by a friend of mine who works for Kendall/Heaton Associates Inc. of Houston.

                              Ash Soffit at 2+U looking southeast and up

He reports:  “The wood soffit seen from the ground plane is Rulon (brand) solid ash.  It is coated with Sherwin Williams Ken Aqua Lacquer.  The lacquer selection is crucial in commercial construction since building code requires an assembly that maintains a Class A fire rating.”

As you walk around our neighborhood, Fremont, or even downtown, abide by the architectural historian’s mantra:  Look up!  You too will join Captain Haddock and me as we exclaim, “Suffering Soffits!”

N.B.:  For better and for worse, the author took all the photos used here.

The Nile Temple Building at Seattle Center

 By Michael Herschensohn

Just the other day, I celebrated my granddaughter’s birthday at the former Nile Temple Building watching a delightful play in the Eve Alvord Theatre. The outing reminded me of the building’s interesting history. Now folded into the Seattle Children’s Theatre, the L-shaped building located at the former intersection of Third Ave. N. and Thomas St. tells stories about the evolution of Seattle Center that are fun to remember and best not forgotten.

Offices left; auditorium block right; ‘Smile with Nile’ over entrance. Parking lot in foreground. 1957.

 

Constructed in 1956 to serve as the headquarters of the Seattle Shriners, the Nile Temple Building is the work of Samuel G. Morrison & Associates. Morrison (1915-1992) designed office buildings in Seattle. Since the Nile Temple had over 11,000 members when they selected this site, I am guessing he too was a Shriner. The Shriners are a fraternal Masonic order, founded in New York City in 1872, and as its name suggests (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine for North America), to introduced fun into the sometimes-stiff rites of Masonic lodges. Dedicated to fun, fellowship and philanthropy (three mission goals that all start with the same letter), the Shriners are well known for the hat or ‘fez’ members wear and for the hospitals they began building in 1922 to address the needs of children handicapped by polio. Seattle Shriners founded the Nile Temple in 1909. By 1956, they were the largest Shriner temple in the world. The big draw of the Thomas St. location was its proximity to the Civic Auditorium (now McCaw Hall) where the Shriners held conventions twice a year following large parades. Seattle’s chapter invested their resources in the golf course just over the county line at 205th St. at Lake Ballinger.

Looking northeast toward the Armory & a house. 1957.

Originally, single family homes surrounded the site of the Nile Temple. They are visible in the background of the 1957 photographs and give a sense of what Seattle Center looked like before the 1962 fair. The simple two-story concrete block building sports a waving concrete roof line, which may suggest the ‘fun’ in the Shriners’ mission. It may be going too far, but the sign over the main entrance to the building read ‘Smile with Nile,’ and the curved line of the roof might just be a smile. Indeed, the thin shell concrete slabs of the roof line are the building’s must distinctive architectural features. The entrance pavilion to the auditorium/dining facility repeats that happy wavy line which may presage the feats achieved through daring concrete construction by the structural engineers of the Century 21 Exposition, aka the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The Space Needle, the United States Science Pavilion (Pacific Science Center) and the Washington State Coliseum (Climate Pledge Arena) are examples of the exciting concrete structures developed for the fair.

Looking northwest with wavy roof over doorways to auditorium/dining hall. 1957.

 

In 1957, the planners of the Century 21 Exposition intended to take the brand-new Nile Temple, the Warren Avenue Elementary school and the full block of the Sacred Heart Parish buildings west of Second Avenue N. by eminent domain. In fact, the Seattle, World’s Fair Commission condemned much of the surrounding land as far south as Denny Way and as far west as First Ave. N. Sixteen property owners, including the Shriners, the school district and the Archdiocese of Seattle which owned Sacred Heart appealed to the state Supreme Court a King County Superior Court decision allowing the condemnation. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of July 8, 1958, the World Fair Commission decided to drop the condemnation suits. Anecdotal though the information may be, the archbishop threatened to unleash countless influential members of the Catholic Church against the plans for the fair, and with 7,000 of its 11,000 members living in Seattle, there were just too many powerful Shriners to confront as well. (Carla Becker and Alan Stein, The Future Remembered, p. 24). The truth seems to be that the commission’s funds were dwindling more quickly than expected as land values had gone up since making the initial plans for the fair. Reducing the physical size of the grounds to about seventy-three acres saved money that would fund required buildings instead. In the end, the fair commission omitted the four blocks that included Sacred Heart, bought and demolished the Warren Avenue Elementary School to make room for the Washington State Coliseum and leased the Nile Temple Building for the duration of the fair.

During the fair, the Nile Temple Building served as the 21 Club for wealthy Seattleites and high-ranking fair visitors and exhibitors. According to Alan Stein and Carla Becker in The Future Remembered, “Members enjoyed dining facilities, meeting rooms, showers and barbershop; switchboard, paging, and stenographic services; and nightly entertainment (p. 243).” The 21 Club capitalized on the 700-seat auditorium, which could accommodate five hundred diners as a banquet facility. That facility, the blocky structure on the building’s northeast corner, is now the Eve Alvord Theatre.

Over the summer of 1962, the Christian Witness Building & Child Care Center filled the former parking lot along Third Ave. N. It was demolished after the fair; however, the city continued to lease the Nile Temple Building until 1979, when it bought the building from the Shriners and leased half to the Seattle Children’s Theatre that was being squeezed out of its site at the Zoo. The other half of the building was leased to the Pacific Arts Center to provide afterschool and weekend art classes for children. Founded in the 1950s by Ruth Lease as the Creative Activities Center, at Seattle Center, it fell under the direction of board members Anne Gould Hauberg and Virginia Wyman, both fierce “believers that creativity is an important and empowering part of all of our lives.”

Looking across the former parking let. Windows closed up on Eve Alvord Theatre. Photo: author.

 

During the decades of the 1970s and 80s, Seattle Center struggled to define its purpose. The civic center imagined for the fair site had a tough time, for it depended on the city’s annual budget which naturally put the need for new fire engines above more frivolous activities at Seattle Center. Mayors came and went without solving the problem of how to attract organizations and people to Seattle Center. One strategy focused on providing cheap rent to children’s organizations.

 

The Pacific Arts Center relocated as a result to the Nile Temple Building and managed to operate through the early 1990’s when, unable to pay the rent, the city forced it out. The Seattle Children’s Theatre began moving from the Woodland Park Zoo to the Nile Temple Building in 1987 and started producing plays in the former auditorium/dining hall while conducting classes and setting up offices in converted classrooms. With the addition of the Charlotte Martin Theatre in 1993 and Allen Family Technical Pavilion for rehearsal space, classrooms and shops in 1995, the Nile Temple Building lost its prominent place on the block.

Looking south to where the Charlotte Martin and Eve Alvord Theatres meet. Photo: author.

 

Today, even though the two new buildings overshadow the Nile Temple Building, it continues after sixty-six years to bring adults and children together sometimes to appreciate the value of the arts as they did at the Pacific Arts Center and sometimes just to have fun as they “Smile at the Nile!”

Oh those wavy smiles! Photo: author.

Sources:

Becker, Paula and Alan Stein, The Future Remembered The 1062 World’s Fair and its Legacy, Seattle Center Foundation 2011.

Seattle Public Library, Special Collections Online, Digital Photograph Collection. Century 21 Digital Collection. Werner Leggenhager photographer of Nile Temple Building. 

Seattle Public Library, Magazines & Newspapers Online: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1901-Present. Editions of July 2, 5, and 8, 1958. 

Seattle.gov. Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle Historical Sites, Summary for 201 Thomas ST / Parcel ID 1985200185 / Inv # CTR014

Cathy Wickwire, Survey Report: Comprehensive Inventory of City-Owned Historic Resources, Seattle, Washington, 2001, pp. 19-22.

Virginia Wyman, Email of May 16, 2022.

Trusting History: The Kerry House at 421 W. Highland Drive

 

Above:  the 1913 photo from Homes and Gardens of the Pacific Coast
In 1975 with altered roof and before second story addition over the garage. Courtesy Paul Dorpat

April 6, 2022: north elevation with second-story garage addition and reconstructed dormers. Photo: Author

April 6, 2022: south elevation seen from Prospect St. Note the three dormers. Photo: author

In 1938 the third story of the home was destroyed by a fire and a roof was put over the second floor rather than replacing it.  A second story addition was added to the garage at the same time.

Bruce Jones, West Highland Drive, p. 16

 This is a cautionary tale about architectural history and a learning moment that encourages us to be clear thinking critical readers of local history.  These four photographs trace the evolution of the A. S. Kerry Residence at 421 W. Highland Drive from 1902 to today.  The second image shows the house 37 years after a fire burned the attic and the replacement of the original roof.  Exploring that second roof and its replacement took me on a wild ride down the rabbit hole of revisionism where, as both a victim and a happy survivor, I explored fixing the incorrect building history.

A few weeks ago, in anticipation of a neighborhood tour, I consulted Bruce Jones’s 2009 guide to West Highland Drive A Historical Walking Tour of Seattle’s Queen Anne Neighborhood and discovered disquieting errors.  West Highland Drive is the chichi street at the crest of Queen Anne Hill with fantastic views to Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay, Puget Sound, West Seattle and the Olympic Mountains.  The street is dotted with massive early 20th century homes constructed largely for people made wealthy in hardware, lumber and real estate following the 1897 Klondike Gold Rush.

In 2009, at the time of publication, Jones served on the board of the Queen Anne Historical Society which he had joined to assist with the creation of the inaugural version of www.qahistory.org.  Working in sales for IBM, he had an easy time with the early internet and probably mastered HTML, the code language of websites.  That put him in a trusted position.  Initially I relied on the information in the book because another long-serving member of the board is credited with proofreading a draft for accuracy.

As I prepared for my tag-along historian role on the tour of the neighborhood, I flipped through the 28 buildings and sites documented in the guide.  On the very first page of text, I noted that the misspelling of the name of the Willcox Walls along 8th Avenue W.  The guide calls them the Wilcox (with one l) Walls.  On the same page, Jones calls Walter Ross Baume Willcox, the wall’s architect and namesake, Harvey.  He then misspells the name of the Olmsted Brothers, the firm that designed Seattle’s park plan.  These errors happen frequently in informal papers and presentations about Seattle’s history and should be forgiven, but Jones pretends to lay out verifiable facts.  His mistakes set me up to be skeptical.

By the time I landed on the squib about the 1902 A. S. Kerry residence on p. 16, my antennae were up. Jones reports there that, “In 1938 the third story of the home was destroyed by fire and a roof was put over the second story rather than replacing it.”  The implication here is of a full third story that was removed, but the photo taken in 1913 shows a two-story house with three attic dormers but lacking a fully articulated third story.  I also found it odd that the 1905 photograph of the Stimson-Griffiths residence on page 18 of the very same guide shows the Kerry residence in the background with a roofline that almost matches the architectural drawings at the UW and what one sees from the street today.

Drawing of the attic plan (UW Special Collections)

On the website of the UW libraries, I found the original Bebb and Mendel 1902 drawings.  The house as built diverged a bit from the drawing, for neither of the two central dormers appears on them.

Drawing of the north elevation (UW Special Collections)

Confusing me a bit more, neither dormer lit a livable space.  The large dormer provided light to the unfinished attic.  The smaller one to the east lights a hallway.  As one might expect on a site with such phenomenal views to the south, the dominant living spaces of this house actually face away from the street.  The kitchen faces the street while the two south-facing bedrooms on the third floor provided smashing views to Elliott Bay and Mount Rainier through large dormer windows.

With all this evidence to the contrary, I had proof that Jones had no evidence of the fire and that the house obviously never had a third floor!  You can imagine my great surprise when I discovered that I was wrong, at least partially.

Sure, it is easy to quibble with an author’s choice of words when describing a ‘third story’ hidden in the low-slung roof, but as research revealed, on October 23, 1938, the roof and some of the third floor of the Kerry Residence did indeed burn.  The images on page 3 of the October 24, 1938, issue of the Seattle Daily Times show the house after the fire was put out and reveal that most of the roof actually survived the fire.

K. W. Rumsey, who lived across the street at 501 W. Highland Drive in the former Clise family home,[1] had purchased the Kerry Residence in June of 1938 as an investment property.  The fire happened as Rumsey and his son burned some trash in a fireplace while preparing the house for a Halloween party.  In the Seattle Daily Times article, Rumsey said the fire didn’t do enough damage to cancel the party!

Wanting to protect his investment, Rumsey expeditiously rebuilt the roof without dormers, essentially condemning the spaces on the third floor.  Based on the photographs from the Seattle Daily Times, I’m speculating that Rumsey abandoned the third floor.  Without access to the city’s microfilm permit record and without photographic evidence, I couldn’t be sure that Rumsey kept the dormers to the bedrooms on the south elevation since I couldn’t imagine him discarding the great views to Elliott Bay and Mount Rainier.  The photograph of the rear shown above that I took on April 6, 2022, from Prospect Street appears to prove me right.  The dormers are there, but as it turned out they too are reconstructions like the ones on the street side of the house.

My additional research using the online files of the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections turned up a weird coincidence.  Alissa Rupp, FAIA, one of my former employees and now a friend of 30 years, signed the 1995 building permit for New York firm of Paul Segal Associates Architecture.  She put me back in touch with Peter Rees, AIA, who ran the firm’s Seattle office.  Rees oversaw the addition of the second story over the garage where guest suite was created for the family of Gerard Schwarz, the musical director of the Seattle Symphony from 1985 to 2011.  The permit and Paul Dorpat’s photograph from 1975 proved me unexpectedly right to be critical of Jones’s guide.  Rumsey did not add the second story to the garage in 1938.  Gerry and Jody Schwarz did in 1995!

In email exchanges with Peter Rees in April 2022, I learned that “Gerry and Jody (Schwarz)’s 1995 addition replaced space over garage with guest suite (bed, bath, terrace), too costly to replace original roof shape and dormers, new owners, ca. 2013/14 renovation to current condition.”  Suggesting that his memory might not be entirely accurate, he was sure the dormers on the south side were gone and that the attic was pretty much a large open space.  He speculated that the third floor may have been designed as a ballroom.  I am guessing that Rumsey probably just gutted the whole thing when he put the new roof on in 1938.

The Robert Rosenstock family were the new owners Rees mentions.  Rosenstock, a retired Wall Street financier, moved here with his wife Ann and twin daughters who were in their early twenties.  One of the daughters interned with the Queen Anne Historical Society.  I never got to meet her mother, but our intern assured me that the restoration project was her mother’s work.

Permit history[2] indicates that the restoration of the dormers and the attic actually took place in 2012.  The online record does not clarify the extent of the work, but with Rees’s insights and the similarity of the fenestration, we can be pretty sure the Rosenstock family restored the dormers on both sides of the house.  Since they appear to have restored the entire roof structure, they probably recreated the dormer on the east end of the house at the same time.

Dormer on the east end is seen behind the chimney. Photo: author.

In all fairness to Jones, he and his proofreader could have been easily misled by the City of Seattle’s Historic Resources Survey inventory record of 2003 where consultant Mimi Sheridan, hired by the Queen Anne Historical society and assisted by volunteers, noted, “This story was not rebuilt after being destroyed in a fire in 1938; instead, at that time, a second story was added above the flat-roofed garage.”  The photo appended to the  survey record and shown below, doesn’t make it easy to conclude otherwise.

The house in the city’s 2003 Historic Building Survey.  Photo source here.

Revising architectural history isn’t easy, but it can be fun.  It is hard to know when you should distrust a source.  The overriding lesson here is that, however painful, when you are doing historical research, it is best to beware of secondary sources and to rely on primary materials such as newspaper articles, historic photographs or the architects of record if they happen to be alive and still your friends!

[1] Coincidentally, that house suffered serious damage from a fire in its roof in early 2022!

[2] Permit history also reveals that the house served as the home of the Japanese consul in 1975.

Seattle’s Sacred Wall

In a levy vote conducted in early February 2022, Seattle Public Schools secured $65,500,000 to upgrade Seattle High School Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center.   In anticipation of the vote, the City of Seattle (Seattle Center) and Seattle Public Schools signed a letter of intent (LOI) in October 2021, according to which the schools would relinquish control of the parking lot and the stadium while continuing to use the rebuilt stadium for games and graduation ceremonies.  According to the LOI, the city would take control of the site, add funds to the levy, and build a new stadium integrated into the Seattle Center landscape.  The city also agreed to pay the school district for the revenue lost from the 5th Avenue North parking lot and to give it land for a new high school at the former entrance to the Battery Street tunnel.  Now that the levy passed, the city and school district will iron out a final agreement.

Civic Field ca. 1928. Looking towards Lake Union

The new stadium will be the third one at this location.  The first, Civic Field (aka Civic Stadium), occupied the site from 1928 to 1947, when it was demolished.  Civic Field replaced an open pasture located between Republican St. and Harrison St. and 5th Ave. N. and 3rd Ave. N.   Home plate was in the southwestern corner.  The field had an extremely hard dirt surface (no grass) and wooden stands on its western and southern sides. Civic Stadium is reputed to have been the most hated place to play baseball in the Pacific Coast League.

Memorial Stadium ca. 1947. Courtesy MOHAI

The Queen Anne Historical Society recently toured the site in order to take an informed position about whether or not the stadium merits landmark preservation and to assess the potential infringement of a new building on other landmarks at Seattle Center:  the Space Needle, the Armory, the Monorail Station, two Monorail cars, and the recently renovated Coliseum (now called Climate Pledge Arena).

Actually, the self-guided tour was limited to the exterior of the huge field and included only one person, me.  My stadium experience includes innumerable high school soccer games in the early 1990s during which I was frequently chastised for not attending all of my son’s games.  My visits also involved the odd Bumbershoot concert over Labor Day weekends since 1971.  Unlike real Queen Anne old-timers, my tour included no memories of the 1962 World’s Fair such as the water-skiing show held four times a day in a special 100,000-gallon tank or the Fair’s opening and closing ceremonies in April and October.  I was definitely not one of the 20,000 people who attended Billy Graham’s Revival there on July 8.

Built in 1947 to be the centrally located ‘home field’ for the city’s high school football teams, the site now reads as two primary zones which are in fact separately owned by the school district. The large parking lot on 5th Ave. N. between Harrison and Republican streets is one lot while the stadium with its facing stands and cantilevered roofs and enhanced grassy area on the west end is the other.  

The stadium is the work of architect George W. Stoddard (1896-1967), a prolific Seattle designer remembered for his 1950 work on the south stands of Husky Stadium.  Its dramatic cantilevered roof may have been inspired by the ones at Memorial Stadium.  The western segment is enclosed by a wall dating from the Fair and is probably Paul Thiry’s design.

North Stand looking east –2022

The east, west, and southern sides of the field are significantly lower than most of Seattle Center.  In the early 2000s.  This change in elevation inspired community activists led by David Brewster to suggest a large subterranean garage here.  It would have replaced all the public parking structures surrounding Seattle Center and created vast opportunities for new open spaces!  I still like this idea and welcome a new stadium as long as it isn’t fenced like the old one is today.

There is little chance Brewster’s fantasy will be realized, but it does suggest that protecting the landmarks surrounding Memorial Stadium requires locating any new building on the parking lot along 5th Avenue.  Harmonizing with the Gates Foundation buildings and Frank Gehry’s MoPOP (the old EMP) will be a trick, but Seattle architects are surely up to that challenge.

The most important design element at the stadium is the memorial wall along the western edge of the parking lot.  It lists the names Seattle public school graduates who died in World War II and is the 1949 design of Marianne Hanson (1932-2015), then a student in her senior year at Garfield High School.

The Seattle Daily Times reported on October 7, 1949 that the school board had accepted Hanson’s design.  The paper noted that she competed against 59 other entrants and that construction would begin immediately.  The newspaper article begins with a call for the 57 names of Broadway High School students or alumni. Their names had apparently been lost when the high school closed and the building served another purpose. In 1949, only the names of the 700 known dead were to be inscribed. The school board planned to pay for the memorial with funds raised at upcoming 1949 Seattle All-State football championship game on Thanksgiving Day and those raised at the game in 1947 and 1948.

The names on the wall include graduates of Ballard (85), Cleveland (28), Franklin (102), Garfield (63), Lincoln (108), Queen Anne (98), Roosevelt (99) and West Seattle (60) high schools.  It is unclear if the names of the 57 Broadway High School graduates who died in the war were included on the wall.  According to a (renamed) Seattle Times article describing the dedication of the wall by Hanson on May 29, 1951, it was now inscribed with the names of 762 men.  Above the list of names, the wall is inscribed with “Youth Hold High Your Torch of Truth and Tolerance Lest their Sacrifice Be Forgotten.”

Wall Dedication noted in Seattle Times, May 30, 1951. 

Standing in the gruesome parking lot as you look west, Hanson’s name appears on the wall’s lower right-hand corner.  At 17, Hanson understood that a simple design is the best way to honor the men who had died defending our nation. 

By the time the wall was dedicated by Marianne Hanson on May 29, 1951 the list of names later became an important owner of art galleries, first in Seattle, then in San Francisco.

Marianne Hanson in 1952

The wall at Memorial Stadium is simply a sacred place.  As someone whose father served in WWII and who has close friends whose fathers died in that war, I am adamant that the wall be protected.  The new stadium must preserve the wall.  A new design would eliminate the rows of automobiles that conceal it, restore the fountains and fluted concave walls that frame them, and eliminate the hedge in front of it that makes in nearly impossible to read all the names.

Landmarking is the best way to honor the memory of the Seattle high school graduates who sacrificed their lives during WWII and to protect Hanson’s work.  It creates a rare opportunity to protect a work that documents the female influence in design which in Hanson’s instance lasted until her death in 2015.