This week’s “Now” photo is a metaphor for the adjustments required by frequent expansions to the campus.

Share story

I WAS INTRIGUED when I was shown the left half of this circa 1929 panorama of the Swedish Hospital campus. Although they were not placed side by side, both halves of this “Then” photo are included in an album of about 100 photographs taken by Seattle/Ballard professional Klaes Nordquist.

Most of the photos are from the 1920s and have Swedish subjects. Kristine Leander, the current executive director of the thriving Swedish Club, introduced me to the album. She recently has donated the collection to the stewardship of the Museum of History & Industry for both safekeeping and public access.

It was only recently that I recognized that the Nordquist album also held the right half of this panorama. The combined view looks south-southwest from Nordquist’s prospect near the corner of Summit Avenue and Marion Street.

The original three-story hospital sits one block south, at the corner of Summit and Columbia. It is the ornate structure below the water tank, which is half-hiding behind the chimney at the photo’s center. (Jean Sherrard and I first featured this “Summit Avenue Hospital” in Pacific NW’s Nov. 9, 2014, issue.) Far right stands the hospital’s first oversized addition, planned in 1925 and completed to seven floors in 1929.

Most Read Stories

Flash sale! Save 90% on digital access.

When compared to Nordquist’s photo, the formidable jumble of walls stacked in our “Now” photo is a concrete metaphor for the relentless adjustments needed by Swedish Hospital through its first century-plus of often-manic growth. One can easily ponder the extent of that growth by visiting the hospital’s website. It is packed with accomplishments. For an independent narrative of the Swedes on First Hill, we recommend the essay by Jennifer Ott.

Finally, we will note two nearby landmarks in Nordquist’s photo that in the late 1920s had not yet been removed for expansion of the Swedish Hospital campus. The north facade of the nearly block-long Otis Hotel, far left, is described in a Seattle Times classified ad for June 24, 1928: “This popular residential hotel, 804 Summit, opposite Swedish Hospital is being thoroughly renovated … private phones, excellent meals, splendid location.”

Across Summit Avenue, at its southwest corner with Marion, nestles the professional home for six eye, ear, nose and throat specialists. W. Marbury Somervell, at the time one of Seattle’s best-known architects, designed this two-story, redbrick jewel that opened in 1906. Thirty years later, the clinic was moved on rollers down Marion Street to make room for the expanding Swedish Hospital.