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WHILE SEATTLE was building long piers with landmark towers on the central waterfront and first staging Golden Potlatches, the weeklong summer festivals that began in 1911, a now-nameless photographer produced a collection of negatives celebrating schooners, steamers and Potlatch parade floats. This shot, however, is unique. From the Regent Apartments at the northwest corner of First Avenue North and Denny Way, the subject looks south from a fourth-floor window.

The Regent Apartments were built in 1908. From this prospect one got an unimpeded view of the razing of Denny Hill for the Denny Regrade until 1910, when the Raymond Apartments, whose rear wall is seen here kitty-corner and beyond the billboards, opened its 37 two-room units to renters. The Regent was considerably larger with 59 units. These two apartment houses were part of the earliest brick reconstruction of this “North Seattle” neighborhood that had been swiftly built of wood during Seattle’s boom of the 1880s and ’90s.

The Regent’s managers promoted not this view but rather the one to the west. A Dec. 15, 1912, classified ad for the Regent reads, “Commanding a view of the Sound and being within easy walking distance of the city, or excellent car service, this building is exceptionally well located.”

In 1925, after the apartments were sold to a San Francisco investor for “a consideration of $110,000,” the name was changed to the Arkona. But after John and Winifred Paul bought the Arkona in 1927 for $150,000, they whimsically changed its name to Pauleze. Winifred died there in 1932, but Paul continued living in and managing their apartment house until 1957, when he, too, died. The building retained the name Pauleze until the late 1970s, when, for reasons we don’t know, the name Arkona Apartments was revived.

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In the mid-1980s, with the help of a friend, Dave Osterberg, the negatives “came home” to Seattle from the Museum of North Idaho. With a donation to the museum from Ivar Haglund, the negatives were purchased for the University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections.

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