The Washington Hall – A welcoming space for immigrants to Seattle

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Washington Hall was built in 1908, and designed by Victor W. Voorhees. Commissioned by the Danish Brotherhood of Seattle, it was the architect’s first large project in a career that would eventually span 25 years and over a hundred buildings in the city. The Hall was created to serve as a lodge for the Brotherhood, as well as a dance hall and performance space. In addition, the back of the Hall was a lodging house intended for new immigrants to the city. The Mission style building boasted comforts of a bygone era: the plans include a billiards room, smoking rooms, a parlor, library, and a ladies dressing rooms. It also uses an interesting architectural feature to illuminate called a light well, which was an open shaft flanked by windows in the center of the lodging area.

Courtesy of Special Collections UW

For more than a century, the Washington Hall hosted a variety of people and events. The Danish Brotherhood sponsored plays, dances, and lectures for the community. A particularly compelling speaker was a member of the Danish Resistance during WWII whom shared his experiences in 1946. Multiple fraternal orders, ladies societies, ethnic groups and religious organizations held functions at the Washington Hall from its earliest days. Italians, African American veterans, Serbians, and Druids are just a few examples of the diverse crowds that enjoyed the Hall. Musical greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Domino, and Duke Ellington also performed on the Washington Hall’s stage.

The Washington Hall was sold in the 1970’s and was leased to various organizations. Most notably the religious cult Children of God occupied the building for a couple years, using it as their base in Seattle. Since 2008, the Washington Hall was taken over by Historic Seattle, extensively renovated, and now is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Washington Court Building

As archaeologists we are expected to know many things.  We are expected to know about the history of people and places, to know about the political influences and social pressures that define a region and its people.  As archaeologists there is an expectation that we place material remains in context; that we provide a narrative.  That we connect.  Historic buildings are an excellent platform for this process, as our structures are reflective of our cultural preferences and practices.  They can serve as a medium by which to examine a multitude of factors.  The Washington court building is no exception to this rule.  Completed in 1890, this building housed one of the most notable brothels in Seattle.  Most Seattleites are familiar with the history of Pioneer Square – how it was destroyed by The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and then rebuilt from the ashes amidst a massive regarding project.  What many don’t know was that madam Lou Graham was one of the very first to rebuild in Pioneer Square.  Graham was already an accomplished madam by the time the fire destroyed her first brothel, and she used the fire as an opportunity to expand her investments; the Washington Court Building was the realization of a bold move.  The building itself is a beautiful example of a Queen Anne – Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture, with simple arches set into the broad linear form of the building.  The brick and cast iron structure reflects the new city codes that forbade wooden structures in the wake of the fire. It also reflected Lou Graham’s status as a major player in early Seattle politics.

  Washington Court Building

Graham used her fiscal status to fund politicians who were friendly to her motives; her new building was a brothel to serve the members of Seattle’s elite, it catered to government officials and wealthy residents.  This wasn’t just a brothel; it was a place of business.  A 1905 Baist Map refers to the block where the building is located as the Graham Block, and there are numerous reports of Lou Graham investing in local businesses and public infrastructure like sidewalks after the fire.  One testament to her influence in politics was when she was charged with licentious behavior in 1892; she was acquitted after being defended by two prominent Seattle figures, Superior Court Judge J. T. Ronald, and assistant district attorney, and later Senator, Samuel Piles.  In, perhaps, an ironic turn of events, the politically corrupt infrastructure that she contributed to would come to rob her descendants of her considerable wealth.



After her death in 1903 she attempted to leave her estate to relatives in Germany.  A court ruling actually determined that the German born Graham had never completed the last steps of her application for citizenship and that as her heirs were not citizens of the United States, they had no legal claim to her wealth.  The ensuing scramble for her cash left the Seattle School system considerably richer. A plaque on the side of the building, hilariously, pays tribute to this windfall but makes no mention of the fact that it was never her intention.

Lou Graham Memorial Plaque


Here are some great resources to check out!  The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is an awesome resource for building info, and so is the public library’s digitized 1905 Baist Map – There are also some great resources on Lou Graham in here as well, what a fascinating character!

1. – Department of Neighborhoods

2. National Park Service – National Register of Historic Places (PDF – pages 256-257)    

3. Lou Graham Gravesite Info –  

4. Lou Graham & Girls sitting inside the Building

Images of America, Seattle’s Pioneer Square – Book, p.40-41

By Joy Keniston-Longrie, Arcadia Publishing, Chicago, IL 2009

5. Lawyers Reports Annotated 1907 – Lou Graham Estate p. 188              id=JcUKAAAAYAAJ&dq=Lou+Graham+Building+in+Seattle&source=gbs_navlinks_s                   

6. Map of Pioneer Square – Courtesy of Seattle Dept of Neighborhoods (saved)

6. Seattle Public Library – Baist’s 1905 Seattle Map; Pioneer Square

7. Travel Through History – W. Ruth Kozak Blog  Lou Graham and Girls       



Horseradish Came First at Heinz

This bottle is embossed with H.J. Heinz Co. on one side and Pittsbough, PA. on the other. Although Henry John Heinz had started marketing bottled horseradish as early as 1869 it was not until 1888 that his business assumed the name H.J. Heinz Company. The object that is in the collection has a rectangular base with chamfered (cut off) corners. This is a machine made bottle exhibiting a distinct value mark on the base. Within the use category of “food” “horseradish style” forms a sub category of bottle referred to as “bottle type” in the Parks Canada nomenclature. This style bottle may show a variety of base shapes. A patent finish is often present as on object 45K1765/M-42.

M-42_1_whole_compr                        M-42_2_embossing_compr

The dating on this particular example of the bottle type can be concisely bracketed between 1888 and 1909. It was in 1909 that the Heinz Co. began using square based bottles for its products. In the case of this horseradish style bottle the embossing makes all the difference when it comes to dating. Given that the bottle is embossed with the company name H.J Heinz we know that it was produced after 1888. As can be seen from old catalogs of Illinois Glass Company, bottles of this type continued to be manufactured beyond 1926.

Heinz-evaporated relish       Heinz 57 horseradish

On the left is an early bottle of Heinz’s horseradish. The bottle on the right is from sometime after 1892, when the H.J. Heinz Co. inaugurated its “57 Varieties” slogan.

 Illinois Glass horseradish bottles-page132

Page from the Illinois Glass Company’s 1926 catalog.

Medicine Here and Now

“Drinking too much of a certain potent potable may require a leave of absinthe”




As seen in our assemblage, a vast majority of our examples seem to be of the medicinal type holding various tonics (about 29% of our assemblage). It’s hard to know exactly what was in the bottles and what they were used for so I took it upon myself to look around the internet for bottles with their labels still in tact. What I found is that not only were a good majority of these bottles were medicine for coughs but also that their ingridients would be considered downright illegal to sell in that state today.

It’s hard to imagine in a day where vaccines and modern medicine can nearly eliminate the large amount of diseases that were prevalent in earlier times. In the above photo we see an example of medicine for whooping cough, which is not nearly as prevalent as it is today thanks to vaccines which I know I received as a child. Just from googling around to find differing examples of cough medicine I was taken aback by the sheer number of different brands for the same illnesses (and the questionable ingredients in them). My favorite example found online was this bottle which contained fun ingredients such as:

1. Cannabis


3. Morphine

Although the above picture refuses to comply, nowhere on the bottle does this state if this is for children or adults. Just “one teaspoon every three to four hours depending on the severity of the cough”. What is interesting about the above sample is that it complies with the 1906 “Gould Amendment to the Pure Food and Drug Act” which requires products to list their ingredients and information on the bottle (Taken from the site). This doesn’t mean that their ingredients were necessarily “safe” but just have known information on the product. Nearly all these ingredients today are much harder to access without a prescription or the right permits, so seeing these three ingredients mixed together for a cough might suggest how severe these coughs may be for these people at the time or perhaps it was popular due to easy acquirement and abuse.



The above picture is of a modern medcine label which now has side effects, ingridient information, usage and various other warnings such as for pregnant women and even a hotline for parents to call about children abusing cough syrup. Although the Pure Food Act certainly helped get the ball rolling I can’t help to think of how many people were taking previous forms of medicine without really understanding what was going in their body. Although going off in a tangent, I think that people today also have this same problem although there is much more information avaliable today on these types than there was back then.

Also Fun Fact: often times these companies were not required to list the volume information until September 3, 1914 (which occurred about 15 years before the Seattle dump we looked at was sealed and ~15 years after our mean date which is about 1898). As anyone who has taken (or rather chugged) the generic brand of cough syrup or allegry medication, having a volume count to help you portion out your samples is useful so you don’t end up a droning zombie after a unfortunate encounter with NightQuil. It even comes with a measurable cap to help you portion out. Different from older medicines that used only corks or seals.

This makes dating the assemblage from Seattle a bit easier in regards to bottles that have volume information (generally seen similar to a symbol looking like “3iv”) this means the bottles most likely date to about 1914 when the law was put into effect and at least two bottle matches this from the collection (45K1765/Lw-1 is one example). Due to the dump being sealed in 1929 and the regulation before placed in 1914, this means there is a much smaller window of only fifteen years from when the bottle was probably produced to when it was finally discarded. One final note is the rather high lag date we recieved in our group project for these particular set of items. At 37.17 years for the lag date, this means that the medicine was either being kept around or being reused for later points in time. This is interesting due to the perishable contents found within. With all the laws and regulations today on medicine, looking back into bottles of the time is an inside look into how people regarded medicine and the casual use of what we consider now today opiates.

Milk Glass? Milk Glass!

For many of us in America, the word “mentholatum” brings backs memories of being ill and having a certain gloppy, sticky medicine called Vick’s VapoRub rubbed on our chest that through some unknown magic that rid us of our coughs and helped us get to sleep. The name Mentholatum is a portmanteau of the words menthol and petrolatum, petroleum jelly.


Originally founded in 1889 by one Alexander Hyde in Witchita, Kansas, Mentholatum Company hit its stride with Mentholatum Ointment, allowing for rapid expansion and eventually relocation to Buffalo, New York in 1903. Mentholatum Ointment was a precursor to that Vick’s VapoRub we all know and love. Let’s talk about that big hit for the company, Mentholatum Ointment and the little white jar that it was originally distributed in. The ointment itself works through a cooling chemical reaction caused by the inclusion of menthol in a petroleum jelly base.

Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the jar in our collection, however this specimen is rather similar to what ours would have looked like if it were whole. It is a cylindrical, milk glass container approximately 2 inch tall and about an inch and a quarter in diameter. Just like our specimen, this one has a ground, threaded finish to take a cap of kind or another that seems to have changed over time: metal for earlier specimens and plastic for later. Given that our site was covered over in 1929, it’s likely that our little jar had a metal lid, just like this one.
One of the more interesting tidbits about this jar is the glass that it’s made from, known now as milk glass. The history of this type of glass has its roots in Venice sometime in the 1500’s, and originally could be of an assortment of colors. Usually just called opaque glass contemporarily, this type of glass began to be representative of American wealth and success, even being displayed in homes alongside fine porcelain. While a small jar of a smelly ointment isn’t the highpoint of class and refinery, this little piece of history is none the less rather striking and has an interesting history.

Image taken from etsy

Ointment Bottle

Broken ointment bottle from the lab

Broken ointment bottle from the lab

One of the most interesting artifacts that I analyzed during the bottle lab is a small medicinal-type of bottle. The bottle is colorless and it has a wide-cylindrical body with threaded lips. The embossing on the surface of the bottle says, “CHESEBROUGH, NEW YORK.” So I decided to do some research on those words and it turns out that “Chesebrough” is the name of the manufacturing company which was created by a person named Robert Augustus Chesebrough in 1872. This bottle contained some type of medicinal ointment (i.e. cream, unguent) used for minor wounds or bruises.

According to the information that I found from the SHA website on glass bottles, Chesebrough company was located in Brooklyn, New York. Many ointment containers were made out of glass but it was also common to see metal and ceramic containers during the 19th century. Many containers include the trademark, “Vaseline” which started to be used in 1877. The product was initially marketed around 1860s as “good for man or beast.”

I also found a website that provides a brief history of the company. According to the information, oil workers initially used the ointment bottles in order to heal cuts or burns. These were widely used by regular people working in extreme cold weather (to prevent dry skin). It is interesting to know that U.S. soldiers also used such bottles during WWI in order to heal their bruises or prevent sunburn.


Who are you? Fox corporation?

Soda/Mineral bottle from the Fox company

Soda/Mineral bottle from the Fox company

I found an interesting glass bottle in the assemblage of Atlantic/Central Bus Base Expansion CRM project.

It has embossing motif with “Fox/ Trade Mark/ J.G.Fox & Co/ Seattle Wash” on the cylindrical body, according to the seams on the body and bottom, we can know that this bottle was made by two-piece mold with cup-bottom, and this bottle has tooled crown finish on the top. The two-piece mold with cup-bottom method is dated in 1850-1910’s which just in the dating range of this site.

Since there is “Seattle. Wash(ington)” on the body, we know that this bottle has great possibility made in Seattle locally. This bottle might be used as soda or mineral water bottle. J.G Fox & Co. seems both beverage and bottle company, but there isn’t much information about this company. Some beer company use the bottle from the Fox but Fox has it own ‘snappy soda’ as well.

In the archaeological assemblage, we found over 20 percentage bottle can be classified as soda/mineral bottle, this is a relatively high percentage, Maybe this number indicate the popularity of soda and mineral water around 1900’s in Seattle, means people might buy and consume these drinks everywhere, in restaurants, on the street or in their homes.



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))


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.