Pacific Northwest | March 21, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineMarch 21, 2004seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
ON FITNESS
NORTHWEST LIVING
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

Horses Out, Hardware In
Photo
Four business structures have held the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street. The warehouse stable shown here was built in 1884. In the early 1890s it was razed for a brick business block that in 1904 was itself replaced by a six-story central branch for the People's Savings Bank. The standing seven-story precast-concrete parking garage dates from 1964.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
LIKE PRACTICALLY every other local business, the Seattle Hardware Company lost its quarters to the Great Fire of June 6, 1889. Momentarily, the partners stood on the boardwalk in front of their store at the foot of Cherry Street to see if the fire would be stopped as it swept toward them down First Avenue. Then they started lugging what they could — about $3,000 worth of heavy goods — up the hill away from the flames.

In the months of reconstruction that followed, most businesses were lodged temporarily in tents. Seattle Hardware was fortunate to lease from the Seattle Street Railway Co. an empty barn at the northeast corner of Pike Street and Second Avenue, where for five years the trolley company had stabled the 20 horses that took turns pulling its "bobtail" horse cars before they were replaced with electric cars in March of 1889.

After much scrubbing, the old barn was ready for selling oxbows, fishnets, plows, horseshoes, nails and such less than three weeks after the fire sent the salesmen scampering. In the year they stayed at this then-remote uptown location, the "Seattle Hardware family" managed to pose for this portrait beneath a canvas banner. In the summer of 1890 they returned to the Pioneer Square neighborhood where, in 1883, they had started in a storefront with a back door that entered onto Sara Yesler's rose garden.

The new lodgings were in the Colman Building at the corner of First Avenue and Marion Street until 1905, when Seattle Hardware moved into its own seven-story building. It survives — although the company does not — at the southwest corner of First Avenue South and King Street.

Paul Dorpat and Genevieve McCoy's Washington state history, "Building Washington," is available for $50 from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145; 206-547-7678.

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