Post-War Designs: Canlis & The Swedish Club

Kim Turner remembers sitting with his sister on a slope overlooking downtown and witnessing the lights coming back on in skyscrapers after one of the last World War II blackouts. With the lights on, Seattle’s future was unleashed, eventually leading to our current rebuilding frenzy.

Modern Tour BannerThe Queen Anne Modern tour held on June 14, 2014 visited contemporary homes and was brackete by two mid-century jewels, Canlis Restaurant (1947) and the Swedish Club (1961). Both buildings reveal the effort to reinvigorate American design following the hiatus from 1929 (the Great Depression) to 1945 (the end of World War II) during which almost nothing got built. Both are pioneering buildings by important local architects. Neither one belongs to the mid-century modern Roman brick class of homes that pepper our hill. Canlis is a marvelous example of Roland Terry’s Northwest School style, while the Swedish Club designed a decade later by Robert Theriault is evidence of the search by post-war architects for a new vocabulary, even it meant borrowing heavily from the work of Seattle-born star Minoru Yamasaki. …Continue reading “Post-War Designs: Canlis & The Swedish Club”

John Lorentz & Lorentz Pl

Wedding photo, John and Bena Lorentz, 1905

From 1868 to 1914, more than a million Swedes immigrated to the United States. Among them was John A. Lorentz, who was to become one of Queen Anne’s most prolific builders.

John A. Lorentz was born Johan Amandus Lorentzson in Ulvhult, Sweden, in October 1879. His family owned a farm, but the soil was poor and rocky. Like many Scandinavian immigrants, he left his native land because dividing the family farm with his brother would not have provided a viable living. Being adventurous,1 in 1903 he boarded a ship to the United States to seek a better life. He found work first as a blacksmith at the Old Star Carriage Company, and later as a carpenter, living on Garfield Street on Queen Anne. At that time, he was one of many newly-arrived immigrants from Scandinavia working in the building trades.

In 1905, he married his wife Bena, also a Swedish immigrant, who became not only his life-long companion but also a partner in his business. With her assistance, in 1910, Lorentz began a career as a building contractor. During his career, he built an estimated 200 single family homes on Queen Anne,2 many of which still exist with minimal exterior alterations, as well as apartment buildings in the Denny Regrade and on First Hill. …Continue reading “John Lorentz & Lorentz Pl”