BUILT IN 1887 by Sarah and Dr. Thomas Minor, it was one of the earliest grand homes built on First Hill. Originally painted a green so dark it was “almost black,” the house had red trim that contrasted nicely. But the Minors’ stay there was brief. Less than three years after the family moved in, the doctor drowned off Whidbey Island while hunting with two friends, who also perished.
In 1891 when John and Angela Collins became the new residents, it was still addressed 702 12th Ave., but the street was soon renamed Minor Avenue. Both Thomas Minor and John Collins served as Seattle mayors: Collins in 1873 as a dedicated Democrat, and Minor in 1887, a resolute Republican. Earlier, Minor had moved his family to Seattle from Port Townsend, where he also had been mayor.
If this big home were to honor its pioneer origins, then it would still be called the Minor home. If, however, it were to honor the significant events that occurred here, then it is the Collins home — perhaps even the Angela Collins home. Angela was the second wife of the bold Irishman John Collins. They were married in 1877, after the locally famous widower of 42 courted and won 18-year-old Angela Burdett Jackling.
Widowed in 1903, Angela Collins gave her remaining 44 years to nourishing Seattle society, the “higher” parts of it here on the summit of First Hill. Her work was distinguished by programs and parties, some in the garden. To name a few of Angela’s interests, she was a leader in the Garden Club, the Music and Art Foundation, and the Sunset Club, of which she and, later, her younger daughter, Catherine, served as presidents. Angela was an effective campaigner, raising money for Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and the Junior League. The league’s first meetings were held in the Collins home.
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John and Angela had four children, and all of them excelled. For example, Bertrand, the younger son, was a popular novelist famous here for his wit. In 1946, daughter Catherine was given the title “Seattle’s First Lady of the Year,” mostly for her work with charities. Within a year, her mother died after 88 productive years, most of them at this corner. Her obituary, which appeared in The Seattle Times on Sept. 21, 1947, concluded, “From her childhood, Mrs. Collins was a brilliant figure in the social history of the city.”
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.