Mary Ann and Margaret Denny’s mansion, known as The Chateau, was declared ‘one of the most sightly spots in the city.’
WHILE I DO not know the exact date for this “Then” portrait of Margaret Denny’s First Hill home, it can be compared to a similar photograph that appeared in the Real Estate and Business News section of The Seattle Times for July 1, 1901. The newspaper caption reads, in part, “The accompanying halftone is a representation of the new Denny Home … one of the most sightly spots in the city.”
I think in this instance, “sightly” means both “good to look at” and “good to see from.” Understandably, the latter connotation was used repeatedly for promoting the Marlborough House apartments, seen in Jean Sherrard’s “Now” photo, which succeeded the Denny home in 1928.
From the Marlborough’s 10 stories, one could take in panoramas of the Cascade and Olympic mountains and the continued proliferation of other First Hill apartments as they more often than not replaced single-family homes, some of them near-mansions similar to the Denny Home.
The Times’ caption for its 1901 photo continues, “The building was erected according to designs prepared by architects Charles Herbert Bebb and Louis Leonard Mendel … It is of brick and is of the Elizabethan Gothic style of architecture.” In their essay on Bebb and Mendel in “Shaping Seattle Architecture,” a UW Press book, architectural historians David A. Rash and Dennis A. Andersen credit Bebb and Mendel with building “the most prominent architectural practice in Seattle during the first decade and a half of the 20th Century.”
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First Hill increasingly was dappled with their creations. In spring 1900, The Times credited Bebb with drawing Margaret Denny’s new home, adding that it was “perhaps the handsomest dwelling commenced this year.”
This photograph and The Times’ look to the northwest corner of Denny’s home. Addressed at 1220 Boren Ave., it rests on lots 1 and 4 of Block 116 in Denny’s Broadway Addition — the southeast corner of University Street and Boren Avenue. Arthur Denny, Margaret’s father and a Seattle patriarch, named the former street in the 1850s. He hoped to build a university — and did — in the early 1860s: the University of Washington.
Boren Street was named for the family name of Mary Ann Denny and her brother Carson. Arthur and Mary Ann Denny are most often described as the “Founders of Seattle,” and their six children — younger daughter Margaret Lenora included — helped promote them as such. In 1901, two years after Arthur’s death, Mary Ann accompanied Margaret to their new First Hill home. The industrious daughter, an astute businesswoman, at the time was collecting rent from several lessees, including The Seattle Times, for the plant it was building on Denny property downtown at Second Avenue and Union Street.
Mother Mary Ann Denny died late in 1910. The funeral was held on the first day of January 1911, in their First Hill home. Four years later, 68-year-old Margaret Lenora Denny drowned in the Duwamish River with three others, after the chauffeured car they were riding in plunged into the river from the bridge at Allentown.