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Thursday, May 20, 2004 - Page updated at 01:42 A.M.

Seattle's roots reflected in downtown library

By Susan Gilmore
Seattle Times staff reporter

Hugh Ferguson tours the Seattle Central Library area that bears his name. The Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation donated $1 million to the new building.
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Ellen Ferguson is a third-generation Seattleite whose grandmother loved to tell the story of standing on First Hill and watching the great Seattle fire of 1889.

This love of Seattle and its history is why the Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation has donated $1 million to the new Seattle Central Library for the Seattle Room that will bear their names.

"We have deep roots in Seattle. We love the diversity, the history and we feel part of the history," said Ellen Ferguson, daughter of Hugh and Jane Ferguson. She said her 87-year-old father is one of the longest holders of a Seattle Public Library card.

"My grandfather came here in 1870, and my father collected Northwest books," said Hugh Ferguson, who ran a construction business and whose wife died 10 years ago. "When I got home from the Army, I took out a library card and I used the library a lot."

Ellen Ferguson said, "We're thrilled to be able to support such a fantastic, nationally acclaimed new library."

The Ferguson Room is one of the Central Library's 24 named spaces, some donated by corporations and others by individuals who were drawn to the new $165.5 million building.

In all, donors have contributed $45 million to have their names affixed to rooms there.

"Seattle is an incredibly generous community," said Terry Collings, director of the Seattle Library Foundation.

"The private funds allow us to not only complete this incredibly ambitious capital-construction program across the city, but allows us to build important endowments so we can meet the increase in demand for programming and collections."

Here are some of the other named areas in the new library:

Faye G. Allen Children's Center: The largest library gift came from billionaire Paul Allen, who donated $22.5 million. It goes to establishing a permanent book-buying fund and building the library's children's center. The Children's Room has been named the Faye G. Allen center, after the mother of Paul Allen and his sister Jody Allen Patton.

The second-largest gift, $20 million, came from Bill and Melinda Gates, who declined offers to have a library room named for them.

Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Plaza: Outside the Fourth Avenue entrance to the new library will be "The Fountain of Wisdom" by Seattle artist George Tsutakawa. The fountain, which graced the old library, has been refurbished and will be placed on the Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Plaza.

The couple, who live in Japan and donated $500,000 for the fountain plaza, have a particular affection for Seattle and libraries. The couple met at the University of Washington, and Ina Tateuchi worked as a school librarian for many years.

"Mrs. Tateuchi was the genesis of this because of her understanding of the important role libraries play in the community and in the exchange of ideas," said Dan Asher, who represents the couple's Tateuchi Foundation. "Knowing the fountain would be the cornerstone of the plaza was an added benefit. Clearly, George Tsutakawa was a prominent Japanese American."

Charles Simonyi Mixing Chamber: Former Microsoft executive Charles Simonyi donated $3 million, and his name will be on the Mixing Chamber, the floor that will house 132 computers.

The Seattle Central Library's principal designers, Rem Koolhaas, right, and Joshua Ramus walk through stacks of books a few days before the official opening.
"No adult or child will ever visit the library without gaining a sense of awe," said Simonyi, the founder of Intentional Software who is considered the father of Microsoft Word.

A. Scott Bullitt History and Biography Collection: The late Priscilla Bullitt Collins, former board chairwoman of King Broadcasting, and her brother, attorney Stimson Bullitt, donated $4 million to the library in memory of their father A. Scott Bullitt. His name will be on the library's history and biography collection. A. Scott Bullitt, who died of liver cancer in 1932 at age 55, was a Seattle attorney and chairman of the state Democratic Party. Priscilla Collins died last November, but before her death she said her father was always reading, particularly biographies and history.

Evelyn W. Foster Learning Center: Literacy was a passion of Evelyn Foster and the library's literacy, English-as-a-second-language and world-languages collection will bear the name the Evelyn W. Foster Learning Center.

"The family wanted to pay back the community that benefited the family so well," said Jill Goodsell, administrator of the Foster Foundation, who declined to say the amount of the library gift. "Evelyn's true love was literacy."

The foundation, which contributes to many arts and education funds in Seattle, began 20 years ago and has long been a contributor to the Seattle Public Library, Goodsell said.

Albert Foster was the founder of Foster & Marshall brokerage firm, which at one time was the only New York Stock Exchange member firm based in Washington. In 1982, the firm was bought by Shearson/American Express.

Joshua Green Foundation Arcade: Another longtime Seattle family will also have its name on the new library. The Joshua Green Foundation Arcade honors one of Seattle's founding fathers whose family moved to Seattle in 1886. Joshua Green was a sternwheeler captain and a leader in the region's shipping and banking industry until he died in 1975 at age 105.

"The library is key to the vitalization of this area so we wanted to chip in and do our share," said Joshua Green III, president of the foundation. "We felt it was a very worthwhile project."

The foundation contributed $300,000 to the library.

Eulalie and Carlo Scandiuzzi Writers Room: Eulalie Scandiuzzi is a member of the Library Foundation board. She and her husband, Carlo, an independent filmmaker, donated an undisclosed amount of money to the library. The Writers Room near the top of the library will bear their names.

"We believe without writers we wouldn't have libraries," said Eulalie Scandiuzzi, a foundation director and owner of a small business.

"After we take care of ourselves and our children, we think about our community. We love books and grew up doing research and the only way to do research is in a library."

Maria Lee Koh and Family Fiction Collection: The fiction collection will be named for Maria Lee Koh, a University of Washington clinical dietitian-nutritionist and a former member of the Library Foundation board.

"I'm an ardent believer in the power of education, the written word and the public-library system," said Koh, who donated an undisclosed amount that was at least $1 million.

She said one of her favorite Chinese sayings was given by her mother, a self-taught reader, that "there are golden castles inside books."

"I want my children and grandchildren ... and new immigrants and their American-born offspring to experience the excitement of finding many golden castles," Koh said.

The Maffei Family Aviation Room: Greg Maffei, former chief financial officer of Microsoft and now chairman of the broadband company 360networks, said it was not a passion for aviation that led to the naming of the aviation room for his family.

Maffei, chairman of the library's Board of Trustees, said he preferred to wait and let other donors choose their rooms. He just took what was left.

"I'm a great believer in flight," he said of his $1 million donation. "The difference of what the private donations have meant is the difference of what would have been a good library and what we built, a great library."

Anne Marie Gault Children's Story Hour Room: "She raised 18 kids. I thought it'd be a fitting tribute to her," said her son who made the contribution for the room in the children's area. He did not reveal the amount and did not want his name used.

Other donors include the Norcliffe Foundation, which gave $1 million for the Living Room, the main floor off Fifth Avenue; the Howard S. Wright family and Janet W. Ketcham, whose names will be on a meeting room on the fourth level; $1 million for the Barry Ackerley Business Collection; the Peter F. Donnelly Arts and Literature Collection (five families gave a total of $1.2 million); the Kreielsheimer Foundation Performance Arts Room (the foundation gave $250,000) and the Maritz Map Room.

Library corporate donors include: The Starbucks Teen Center, $500,000; The Washington Mutual Foundation meeting room, $500,000; the Microsoft Auditorium, $3 million; The Boeing Technology Training Center, $1 million; and the PACCAR meeting rooms, $250,000.

Two of the rooms are named for longtime library activists who were honored without requiring any financial gifts.

Betty Jane Narver Reading Room: The Betty Jane Narver reading room on the 10th floor honors the woman who was a founding member and president of the Library Foundation and a Library Board member for a decade. Narver, a fellow of the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington, died suddenly in December 2001.

Virginia Burnside Boardroom: Virginia Burnside was founder of the Seattle Library Foundation in 1980 and she was told before she died in November 2000 that the library planned to name the boardroom after her.

"For her that knowledge closed the circle on a lifelong love affair with books and reading," said Collings, director of the foundation.

The still-unnamed spaces at the new library are the science and technology collection, the Terrace Garden and the library gallery.

Susan Gilmore can be reached at 206-464-2054 or at

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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