The Singer Sewing Machine building anchored an area of architectural history, and human activity.
WE ARE GIVING this wonderfully cluttered northeast corner of Second Avenue and Spring Street a confident photography date of 1902.
A look at the corner from 1901 does not include the two-story brick building with its five basket-handle windows irregularly arranged on the second floor. Both photos, though — from 1901 and 1902 — show the Singer Sewing Machine building, seen here at far left.
Isaac Merritt Singer patented his foot-pedaled sewing machine in 1851, the year that Seattle’s pioneer party landed at Alki Point, unfortunately with neither a sewing machine nor a camera. I remember well from my mom’s home the Singer brand’s red “S” trademark. (It is seen here printed several times on the storefront.)
Now I am wondering whether the Gothic ornamental parts topping those second-floor windows might have been chosen by the building’s owner or architect to act as variations on the stained-glass window standing tall in the facade of Olympic Hall, behind the Singer building.
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The Hall’s stock name is printed above the window. Without color, it is almost impossible to decipher from the sun and rain-bleached sanctuary first dedicated on Aug. 24, 1873, by Plymouth Congregational Church.
Like many other Seattle churches, the crowded Plymouth Congregational moved after the city’s Great Fire of 1889. It was a mere three-block move to a new and monumental redbrick sanctuary at the northeast corner of University Street and Third Avenue. After its abandonment, the clapboard church here at Spring and Second soon lost its tall spire. However, the old church was not neglected. Rather, it was well-used through its remaining 15 years as Olympic Hall by a variety of rent-paying educators and entertainers: both secularists and spiritualists.
We will conclude by noting which post-pioneer human needs were met in these storefronts in the early 1900s, before they were flattened in 1907 for the first four stories of the Baillargeon Building. (On June 9, 1907, its owners tooted in The Seattle Times: “We are asserting a claim to having completed a structure in the retail business section of Seattle, the superior of which cannot be found on the North Pacific Coast.”) To the right of the sewing machines, the row continues with a hat blocker and cleaner; a tailor; a watch maker with an optician; and, at the corner, what is probably a cafe.