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

Tragedy struck the Queen Anne community on Sunday, January 12, 1930, when four young people were killed and six more badly injured in a horrific sledding accident.  It was the culmination of a deadly weekend for winter recreation seekers throughout the city and around Puget Sound.  The days leading up to the tragedy had been unusually cold, with temperatures falling into the teens and intermittent snowfall.

The sled, carrying 12 riders ranging in age from 14 to 22, collided with an automobile at the northeast corner of 1st Avenue West and West Garfield Street.   Everett Jensen, the 19-year-old driver of the car and son of wealthy Walla Walla department store founder A.M. Jensen, ignored the police barricade put in place on the designated “coasting” hill.  The 16-year-old pilot of the sled, Ray Whitteman, managed to steer the loaded coaster to his right after they saw the car’s headlights enter their path.  Inexplicably, Jensen steered the car to his left, leaving no time or room to redirect the sled. Whitteman died instantly.  Three others — Helen Haw, 15; Margaret Chadburne, 16; and Clyde Tucker, 22 — all died in hospital.

Jensen admitted to taking several drinks before he and his passenger, Henry Farish, headed to Queen Anne to visit Jensen’s girlfriend.  Farish confirmed that Jensen had been drinking and had ignored him when he told him he had passed a police barrier.  The coroner who attempted to question Jensen at the scene described him as so drunk that he couldn’t talk sense.  Despite this, a jury found Jensen not guilty in his criminal trial four months later.

Fatal Sled Ride

This image of the scene featured in The Seattle Times the following day includes an artist’s rendering of the accident and an inset image of Alice Logan, who witnessed the tragedy from her home at 105 1st Avenue West.

The days leading up to the accident on Queen Anne saw widespread sledding and skating accidents.  The Friday Times reported that eleven people had been injured, two critically, in separate incidents around the city.  On Saturday, 21-year-old Earl Vance, son of Seattle lumber and real estate magnate Joseph Vance, drowned after falling through thin ice while skating with his 17-year-old girlfriend, Dolores Totten, on Steel Lake, south of Seattle.  Ms. Totten was able to scramble to the shore.

After the tragedy on Queen Anne, Seattle Police Chief Louis Forbes and Mayor Frank Edwards issued a formal order to the police department to stop all coasting in Seattle.  The streets throughout the city that had been designated for the activity were immediately sanded, and people caught sledding on any city street were subject to arrest.