WE MAY puzzle over why the unnamed photographer of this wide look through a First Hill intersection chose to feature the trash and weeds in the foreground. As revealed in Jean Sherrard’s repeat, this intersection at Seventh Avenue and Seneca Street became a small part of the concrete ditch cut for the Seattle Freeway. In the early 1960s, here at Seneca, Interstate 5 construction through the central business district turned due north and continued along the side of Capitol Hill.
Although the freeway took this entire intersection, it needed only a slice of its southeast corner, the part shown here on the right of the “then” with the small grocery. “Homemade Bread” is signed below the corner window, and directly above it, “Sanitary Grocery” is printed on the window. In the commercial listings of the 1918 Polk’s City Directory, it was but one of more than 750 small grocery stores scattered throughout Seattle.
The First Hill neighbors of this grocery at 1122 Seventh Ave. would likely have found Katherine and Jewett Riley behind the counter. Jewett was an old hand at mercantile, having helped his brother Silvanus run a store at the Leschi Landing soon after the Yesler cable line was completed to Lake Washington in 1888. In 1918, Katherine and Jewett conveniently lived in the Touraine Apartments at 711 Seneca. Directly behind the grocery, the Touraine is four stories tall.
The oldest subject here is the comely little home to the left of the big box of a boardinghouse at the intersection’s northeast corner. It dates from the mid-1880s. To the right of the boardinghouse, the concrete Van Siclen Apartments (1911), with its ornate row of arched windows, faces Eighth Avenue (out of view).
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The Van Siclen (later renamed the Jensonia) missed reaching its centennial. It and another building were razed in anticipation of the 323-unit Cielo Apartmentsfound in the repeat, behind the Exeter House (1928).
Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.