Carroll's Fine Jewelry, a downtown Seattle landmark known for its green-marble storefront and hand-painted street clock, survived the Great...
Carroll’s Fine Jewelry, a downtown Seattle landmark known for its green-marble storefront and hand-painted street clock, survived the Great Depression, the Boeing bust, even the dot-com bust.
But the 113-year-old business can’t abide the prospect of a move. Carroll’s will close for good March 31 as the Joshua Green Building, its home on Fourth Avenue for 95 years, prepares for renovation. Carroll family members, who run the business, say starting over in another location just isn’t possible.
“A lot of people tell us that being in Carroll’s is like stepping back into time,” said Shawna Cruver, a 24-year-old great-great-granddaughter of founder Thomas J. Carroll, pointing to the wood-trimmed display cases and crystal chandeliers. “The charm — you definitely can’t fake it.”
Carroll’s sells everything from a $35 sterling-silver bracelet charm shaped like a coffee bean to a $125,000 sapphire-and-diamond ring.
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It opened for business in Pioneer Square in 1895. Eighteen years later, it became the first retailer in a 10-story building developed by Joshua Green, a leader in the region’s shipping and banking industry.
During World War II, Thomas J. Carroll decided there was too much hate in the world, so he handed out 3,800 gold crosses. In the mid-1970s, Virginia Carroll Ream and Marie Carroll King, granddaughters of Thomas, bought a Rolls-Royce and promised newlyweds a free ride in it with the purchase of a wedding-ring set. Carroll’s is where Kurt Cobain bought Courtney Love’s engagement ring in 1994.
But it’s perhaps best known for its four-sided, green-and-gold street clock.
“People have called us up to tell us they were late for work because our clock was too slow,” said Cynthia Carroll Ridgeway, a fourth-generation family member who helps run the store, a duty that includes winding the clock weekly. She noted that the family has yet to decide what it will do with the clock after the store closes.
Sarah Sodt, downtown coordinator for the Landmarks Preservation Board, said the clock is a designated historic landmark and cannot be removed.
As for its longtime landlord, Joshua Green Corp., the Carroll family has no hard feelings.
“I think it’s nice they’re going to renovate the building,” Ridgeway said. Reopening in the building isn’t possible, she added, because the ground floor will be redone with one large tenant in mind. “We’ve had such a lovely experience, and that’s how we want people to remember us.”
This past week, Gwen Ellison, a customer for many years, stopped by the store for what could be her last time. “It’s just so sad. A piece of history is being let go,” said Ellison, wearing a ring her husband bought her at Carroll’s. “They’re like family.”
Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or firstname.lastname@example.org