Calvary Cemetery Recordings

I had never considered the amount of information that we can glean from a casual walk around the cemetery.

Our group decided to record our data using a custom webform through the free app, NestForms. It was super handy. I took about 20 minutes to set up the webform to match our paper forms, and I was really happy with the results. It was much easier to fill out a pre-designed form on a phone than worry about wind and rain destroying the papers. It even recorded our GPS coordinates. When we got home, printing out a database was literally 3 clicks. All of the data is saved in the cloud. Go technology!

We also decided to stop in and talk with the cemetery staff when we got to the site. Some interesting tidbits that we got from speaking with them:

  • The Denny Regrade project of the early 20th century involved moving a cemetery. The catholics that were previously barried there, are now at the Calvary Cemetery.
  • There was a flu epedemic in Seattle in the 1920s which accounts for a large portion of the cemeteries inhabitants. Particularly the graves of many young people.
  • There was an entire section of burials that had been left unmarked. These were people who were unable to purchase large family plots due to unmarked graves. The Calvary Cemetery director recently created a monument for these people.
  • Many of Seattle’s famous families have burials in the cemetery, including the Nordstroms.

As others have mentioned, our sample size was so small that it is probably wrong to draw any conclusions from our findings. Alas, I will do it anyway.

Our findings suggest that males may be more highly valued, as their graves were nearly three times as large as the women’s, 5.6 to 2.2 ft tall. This seems to be especially skewed in the family plots where a family patriarch has a large monument while his relatives have smaller graves surrounding it. We saw this several times throughout our survey.

We also found that marble is by far the most common material used, comprising almost 50% of the graves. Our findings suggest that the use of marble has diminished in the last three decades however. Whether this is due to market forces or a culturally driven change is unknown.

Screenshot 2014-04-30 16.22.14

grave by material

Brief History of Butler Building in Seattle

The Butler Building, also known as Butler Block, is located at the corner of Second Avenue and James Street in Pioneer Square. The story of this building could be traced back to 1875. At first, this property was owned by Hillory Butler, whose surname became the name of this building. At that time, Butler Block (Courtesy UW library Special Collection order number:PSE080) was a three-story wooden building, and it was burned in the Seattle Fire in 1889.

In 1889 to1890, Guy C. Phinney and Daniel C. Jones partnered to finance the new building, which designed as an office building by Parkinson and Evers. The new building (Courtesy UW library Special Collection order number: BAB03)  was built of bricks and stone blocks, and it has a Romanesque portal with curved “BUTLER BLOCK” on its top. In 1894, this building converted to the Butler Hotel, and became one of Seattle’s most elegant hotels, which was a favorite place for newly-rich miners from the Alaskan Gold Fields, as well as celebrities and politicians. The hotel owned the advanced equipment system in that time, and two more stories were added in 1903 (Courtesy of the Seattle Public Library Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Digital Collection)

During the Prohibition, because of the flouting of alcohol laws, the Rose Room of the Hotel was closed for one year from 1929. Soon after, the Butler Hotel was closed on September, 1933 due to the Depression. Eventually, the property was auctioned on January, 1934.

In the late 1930s, the upper 5 floors were removed and remodeled into a garage. Only the first two stories remained its original appearance. The garage was owned by Sam Israel’s Samis Foundation from 1997 to 2001, who is a major Downtown Seattle landowner. The garage was remodeled again and serves as parking lot for public. Nowadays, the garage( was owned by Walton Street Capital, L L C, of Chicago, IL..

About historical pictures, I found that it is not easy to find pictures before the hotel period. And some paintings on postcards tend to have similar views and details about the building, which might come from a same one. However, there are still some differences between these similar paintings. This might be the bias that we should avoid.




4. “‘The Butler Garage'”, The Argus, January 6, 1934, p. 2.

5. Grant, Frederic James, “History of Seattle, Washington with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers“, American Publishing and Engraving Co., 1891, p. 214.



The Paramount

The very first time when I went by the Paramount Theatre, I felt a little bit odd because of the beautiful, elegance and classic front and simple, even a little dull of the rest of the building. For the first glance, I didn’t know it is a theatre until I went to the performance and stunned by the interior, “the interior itself is a great piece of work!” I told my friend sat beside me.

Today, many great works perform in this beautiful theatre which become a irreplaceable spot of Seattle.

The contemporary view of the Paramount. (Courtesy Googlemap)

The contemporary view of the Paramount. (Courtesy Googlemap)

The grant opening, falls and arise again.

The Paramount Theatre was called Seattle Theatre when the very first opening in March 1st 1928. The Seattle Times introduce its open with joyful report and this theatre became the hot spot for entertainment. Right after two years later, in order to conformity with Mother company’s policy, the name of this theatre changed to the Paramount Theatre and played multiple performances. Although the time was Great Depression, Paramount Theatre still survived through. Since the vaudeville become less and less popular, the Paramount usually showing films, with only occasional “live” performances from the 40’s to the 60’s. Within these years, the Paramount once leased to Stanley Warner Cinerama Corporation who tried to renovate and play ‘Cinerama’, however this project was quickly gave up due to the lack of sufficient technology to play on huge screen. The Paramount was sold to Clise Properties Inc around the middle of the 50’s, after decades of low tide condition, but the purchaser went bankrupt in the late 80’s. Until Ida Cole bought the Paramount in 1993, these series of unsmooth gradually get better. After Ida’s renovation project, the Paramount experience the grant open again in 1995. Few years later the ownership transferred in 2002 but this didn’t influence the Paramount anymore.  Now the Paramount is still the greatest place to watch the show, the performance.

Historical tricks.

I find that the edge signboard and front door signboard actually reveal information about dating of the paramount. Compare these four pictures with each other and the story of the paramount, you will find out! Next time when you see a historical photo about the Paramount, you can know when was the photo taken.

 1928 front door  1983.10.3955
1928 (Courtesy Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society)) 1928 (Courtesy MOHAI (Online exhibition))
 1947  1956
1946 (Courtesy MOHAI (Image No. 1983.10.16682.1)) 1956 (Courtesy MOHAI (Image No. 1986.5.3049.1))


We need better data–Stat!

So let’s get the problems out of the way first:

– Our counts are not evenly distributed across 1875 to 2014; we have one cluster of dates from the cemetery’s dedication in 1889 to 1920, and one cluster running roughly from 2001 to 2014. Between these clusters, it’s kind of a crapshoot.

– We should have planned ahead to randomize our sampling across the cemetery, but it was not to be (i.e. we didn’t think to).

– The sample size is very small.

– There are so many reburials in this cemetery, but they can be difficult to identify, and we do not have perfect knowledge of the site. Reinterment is likely the biggest external confounding factor for our seriation.

But still! We forge on, like true statistics-doers, eager to see what sort of vague, baseless pattern we can squeeze out from terrible data. To investigate the question of changes in title over time, I made a stacked bar chart as well as a stacked area chart—seeing both of them together makes them somewhat more useful for this rudimentary depiction of seriation (Figs. 1 and 2 – to be inserted later)

By far, most markers of men or women bear no reference to familial titles.  For traditionally men’s names, if there is any identifying information besides the name, extra-familial duty can be emphasized: reverends, cops, individuals who worked in the military can be marked in some way, either by simply listing their title, battalion, etc., or by a logo/insignia inscribed on the marker, but familial roles like “Father”, “Husband”, etc. are far less common and appear in far less variety than they do for traditional women’s names.

For these identified women, familial roles are far more emphasized. If there is any inscription besides the name and the dates of life, then the inscription usually includes “Wife”, “Mother”, or (less common) “Sister”. Other flights of fancy like “Mom” or “Nana” are also seen, especially more recently. We found two examples of markers that bore 4 or more familial titles for one person.

Perhaps this is indicative of a true pattern, but it is doubtful. Sure, the data is in line with our perceptions of how men and women were and are perceived, but the data are so poor it’s difficult to say much of anything.


Guns’N’Roses lied

Seattle’s main “Jungle” flanks Beacon Hill all the way to Georgetown. It’s bordered on the west by I-5 and spidery railroads, to the north by 1-90, and it runs, ducks and tapers south down through Beacon Ave all the way to Georgetown. The reason for its existence has always been twofold: first, it dampened out the storm and drang of the railways for residential streets and now it does the same for I-5.

Second, it’s a scrap of slanted woods whose grade is so steep, it’s forgotten by even the shrewdest of developers (at least until the CD is bursting at the seams with techies, and they must naturally flow southward).

It’s forgotten because you can’t build on it.


Image: KING 5 News

Well, but you can.

The Jungle is one of many, even in the Seattle area. Jungles are wooded spaces where people without homes can live in ones they’ve made themselves.

Jungles are generally sneered at, or feared at, by the be-home-ed folk outside, who hear intermittent telegraphs from within—someone dead, someone raped, someone stabbed within an inch of their life and if they hadn’t heard the moans—but, of course, it’s more complicated than that. In a jungle, people commune, too. They share food and stories and spit and latrines. It’s a way of life with as many facets as there are people, in there.

Our Jungle: burgeoning in the 1930’s, like the associated Hooverville. Union folk, itinerant workers, and the disenfranchised colonized the place, as some still do today. Rien de nouveau for more than half a century, and then, in the 1990s, Washington State began to dismantle the community. People watched as their personal homes, their food and sleeping pads and trash were snapped up by giant mechanical claws, or bulldozed into oblivion.

What the government planned to do with the land was anyone’s guess at the time, but they renamed it a greenbelt and sewed a bike path through it, open as of 2011. People in the Jungle are continuously rebuilding, leveled, and building again. They are individuals stuck in attrition with no real endpoint. Our Jungle is one of many.

King Dome

One of Seattle’s most loved and hated buildings all at the same time was the King County Multi Purpose Domed Stadium, better known as the King Dome. Funded in 1968 with a $40 million public bond, the dome was completed in in 1972. Home of the Seattle Seahawks, Sonics, and most famously, Mariners, the stadium was truly one of the iconic buildings of Seattle (though perhaps more for its ugly concrete exterior and even uglier astro-turf field)

The stadium was opened by the Mariners on May 17, 1976 drew 54,000 fans. Several iconic sports moments took place in the Dome including “The Double” in the 1995 ALCS win over the hated New York Yankees. I may or may not have cried while watching this:

There were good memories and there were bad. Through much of the King Domes service, the Seattle teams that called it home were the basement dwellers of their respective leagues. This coupled with speakers positioned so low that baseballs famously got stuck in them and falling roof panels made the King Dome one of the sadder sports stadiums in the US.

By the late ’90s the owners and fans of the three major sports franchises in Seattle were sick of the outdated stadium. In 2000, after nearly 25 years of service, the King Dome was torn down in spectacular fashion. Here is some footage:

Though many hated the King Dome during its reign (sorry, I had to), it is often looked back at fondly by Seattlites as the stadium that saved sports in Seattle.


Here are some great resources from the UW Libraries:

Anthropology Building

As many of you know, Denny hall is UW’s first structure that was built back in 1894. It was named after Arthur Denny (the person who donated the space for the construction of the building). Although the building was initially called “Administration building” it changed to “Denny” since he was the one who donated and cleared the land for the construction of the building. The architect responsible for its construction was Charles W. Saunders. I found some of his architectural drawings of the rear north elevation that date back to 1894. Charles designs or architectural style is French Renaissance. I posted some actual images of the building being constructed during that time.

Architectural Drawings (Denny Hall)

Architectural Drawings (Denny Hall)

Construction site (Denny Hall)

Construction site (Denny Hall)

A few years after its construction, I found images of a large auditorium that was located at the bottom floor of the building which dates back to 1905. The building had a total capacity of 600-800 students. The interior of the building also included a large library which was the only one available on campus at the time. According to the information that I found, the library system contained about 6000 volumes.

Auditorium (Denny hall)

Auditorium (Denny hall)

Library (Denny Hall)

Library (Denny Hall)

The building also contained different exhibits and science labs owned by the young naturalist society. The collection included different rock specimens (geology), small section on native American artifacts and animals (ducks, crabs). these collections were eventually moved to another building (i.e. Burke museum) in 1962.

Exhibit (Denny hall)

Exhibit (Denny hall)

Exhibit part 2 (Denny Hall)

Exhibit part 2 (Denny Hall)

Exhibit part 3 (Denny Hall)

Exhibit part 3 (Denny Hall)

Although I found a wide variety of resources (e.g. articles about the building, pictures of the construction, architectural drawings, images of the interior and exterior part of the building as well as students) I couldn’t find maps of the land. I found multiple images of the building at different times but I noticed that the land looks significantly different in some of them. Maps could help me understand how the landscape changed over time.


Interment frequency and generations in Calvary Cemetery, Seattle.

While an undoubtedly morbid thing to study, death and how culture handles death is an exceptionally interesting source of information about any culture. Using our recent Graveyard Lab and a chart of internments, we can see some very interesting information regarding the use of this specific cemetery, its growth and how these match up with events, both local and global.

This chart details the number of internments in five year increments from 1875 to 2010. In our collection we separated into each of the 5 primary areas of the cemetery and chose randomly 30 interments. What can be seen is that the period from 1900-1920 saw the largest spike of internments in the cemetery, followed by another increase in interments between 1936 and 1950. At first, I was tempted to believe that the first spike of internments was a result of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, until I noticed another spike at 2006 to 2010. The last spike, could be considered the Baby Boomer spike, a generationally motivated increase in interment, and upon closer inspection, the vast majority of internments between 1900 and 1920 take place before the pandemic would have occurred, leading me to believe that this increase in deaths is related to a post-Civil War baby boom, similar to the spike being witnessed in the modern era with the Boomer generation.
As for the 1936 to 1950 spike, I do not know of any regional, generational or cultural event that would culminate in this spike, and our data does not indicate that this is a group of soldiers who were interred in this period. It could be a result of the rationing and other life stressors that were occurring at this period due to American involvement in the war, but without further research, this question will remain unanswered.

Material Types and Age (With lots and lots of Biases)

Examining the graveyard through our pleasant walk in the rain we came across various graves that were obviously re-buried over time. However our group noted several biases which I will go into greater detail below. For starters here is a stacked materials graph over a period of years. This graphs shows only the death dates and in the case of multiple burials on the same slab, the earlier date is shown.

Although only speculated in my lab report, Jacob noted that there is more grave interments post-war era and during the Spanish flu era (starting in 1918) However it is difficult to know for sure what the cause of death was during these periods. Jacob speculates in his post in greater detail how the larger sample pre-spanish flu may be due to a “generational” die off post civil war.

As for the material type there certainly fondness for granite and although the chart does not show the material polish there was a common feature  of the younger graves having a polished finish, monument types and family plots were the main example in this case. Throwing together (I admit a very bootlegged) serration graph we saw these results.

Our main assumptions is that there is a popular usage of metal, namely copper only after the World Wars, perhaps this may be due to a style shift or a better abundance of the material for sale. Simple stone monuments are also seen in the older graves until they are put more into granite and polished. There were more than one grave we noted where the material on the outside was simply made of concrete.

However this lab has many problems with its data sets. For example as mentioned before, reburials not matching the material types for the era buried. There is also a matter of small sample size, which in this case should be about 30 or so. Another problem is that the Calvary Graveyard is in majority, a Catholic graveyard.I can only give my own assumptions but in my family graveyard (a protestant one) the majority of the graves are in red stone or in metal temp monuments. This may be due to location of materials for headstones and the religious background playing effect. Seattle is a larger city so it would make sense for a wider array of headstones over time since there would be more manufactures to choose from. This can be seen hopefully by the wide range of materials seen in the graph and at the graveyard itself.

We only have an example from one graveyard. Here is a brief pic of the one I mentioned above.

The Kelly Cemetery (My family’s graveyard) located in central Oregon. URL Link: Note that some of the styles located here are completely absent from the Calvary cemetery.

There may be a preferred style here that is only used by Catholic families. For example the majority of the graves that had decorations had crosses on them and other catholic imagery. There is also a problem that there is a large number of clergy buried at the graveyard which is a large sample size of a similar style (simple stone slabs noting the rank of the clergy member). Cremations are also missing from this data set and therefor there is no data on those dates. There may be a time period when cremations were preferred but the lab did not ask for the data. The mausoleum was also off-limit at the time we were there.

Overall this posting gives a brief glimpse into the material types preferred over time, however in order to make the data better more samples are needed from this site and from many others.




Gender Differences and Gravestones

Based on the information that our team collected from the survey of the gravestones at Calvary cemetery, there is evidence of some differences in terms of gender. For instance, I decided to make a graph that would compare the number of deaths (per gender) every 30 years. Although our sample is relatively small (N=33), the overall trend shows interesting results. Between 1861-1890 and 1921-1950, we collected information from a total of 7 males that died during those periods but what’s interesting is that we didn’t collect any information from females during those periods (i.e. they were completely absent). Women are clearly underrepresented during those periods perhaps due to the fact that female population was smaller or our group failed to collect enough data from those sections. I also want to highlight the fact that between 1891-1920, the number of deaths per gender was very similar. likewise the most recent range of dates between 1981-2011 suggest that the population of male and female burials was more evenly distributed.

I also wanted to compare the different shapes of gravestones and see which types were more popular among males and females. For instance, “tablets” are the most common type of gravestone in our sample. The number of tablets used by males is slightly higher than those used by females (7 vs 5). Another interesting observation is that the number of  “monuments” and “columns” used is significantly higher for males than females. This is important because the majority of columns and monuments are more elaborate (i.e. complex designs and made out of polished granite or marble). These types of gravestones also include more descriptive epitaphs because they tend to be larger in sizes. I think this could reflect some gender inequalities (e.g. more expensive and complex structures for males) however, we need larger samples in order to make such conclusion.

Fig: Gender and Gravestone shape