December 6, 2013 at 9:54 PM
Sketched Nov. 18, 2013
Talk about an interesting transformation. Back in the early 70s, when people stopped using the city’s historic bathhouses as places to change into their swimwear, the little brick buildings were repurposed as art centers. Currently, Seward Park’s is a ceramic studio, Madrona Beach’s hosts a dance company, and Green Lake’s is the home of Seattle Public Theater (SPT.)
I recently stepped into the Green Lake venue to watch a rehearsal of SPT’s “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” which runs through Dec. 24. This is the play that helped save theater at the bathhouse when STP moved into the space in 2001, said artistic director Shana Bestock. Now in its 13th consecutive season, the holiday classic has become one of the city’s longest running plays.
People may not know there is a cozy, 165-seat theater here, said Bestock, but those who step inside enjoy the experience. “Everyone loves being in an old funky space.”
October 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM
The days of the downtown Greyhound Bus Terminal are numbered. The entire city block where one of Seattle’s oldest transportation hubs has stood since 1927 is slated for redevelopment next year. Will we miss it?
The significance of the building may be lost at first sight. The majority of the original brick work was covered with beige ceramic tiles in the 1960s. (What were they thinking?) Mismatched additions like a roof overhang covering the passenger-loading area also mask the integrity of the station.
But consider the history. Decades before buses and light rail shared the downtown bus tunnel, streetcars and buses ran alongside the same wall where I recently sketched passengers boarding the 2:10 p.m. Greyhound to Vancouver, B.C.; part of the rails can still be seen through the pavement.
The Central Stage Terminal, as it was called then, was the southern base of the Seattle-Everett Interurban rail line and home to a number of coach companies that later displaced the streetcars and preceded Greyhound. Call it the first hybrid bus-rail station in the city.
While Greyhound plans to build a new terminal near the Stadium light-rail station early next year, the redevelopment of this site into a massive hotel/residential complex will erase an important part of Seattle’s transportation past. The city didn’t deem the terminal worthy of landmark status, so don’t expect the bulldozers to leave any part of it standing.
The waiting room inside the terminal was abuzz with activity on a recent weekday. Mary Patton had traveled here from Sequim on the Dungeness Line shuttle bus. She said she was a Seattle Times subscriber, so I didn’t have to do much explaining about my work. I hurried to make this sketch before she boarded the 1:10 p.m. bus to Portland, where she was planning to attend a wedding.
Gary Saben, who’s worked for Greyhound for 39 years, stopped to peek at my sketch of the building, and I came by to draw him when his bus was ready to leave. He said he’s looking forward to the new terminal in Sodo. “Change is always good.”
When I asked station manager Joseph Hapac what was special about the terminal, he knew exactly where to take me. We walked outside towards Ninth Avenue and he pointed to the rails still visible on the pavement. Then he pointed up to the part of the building where you can still see the original brickwork, right above the roof overhang.
May 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM
Sketched May 8, 2013
I drove by this historic gas station in Issaquah on my way to sketch paragliders at Tiger Mountain. You don’t see this kind of old buildings everyday around here, so I couldn’t resist pulling over for a quick 20-minute sketch. According to the Downtown Issaquah Association website, the building may have been a residence first, built in the 1890s. Over the years, it was also used as a warehouse and feed store. In 2003, it was restored to the way it looked in the 1940s. Can you picture the scene back then? I imagine men in suits driving big old Cadillacs (like this one) and smoking cigars.
February 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM
Sketched Feb. 12, 2013
It sits atop Beacon Hill like, well, a beacon: the striking orange brick building that no one seems to call by the same name.
Built in 1933 as the U.S. Marine Hospital, it was later known as the Pacific Medical Center and still houses the medical provider in the ground and basement floors. Then, after Amazon leased most of the space in 1999, people just referred to it as the Amazon building.
Now, “We call it the Pacific Tower,” said Michael Finch, the commercial real-estate agent tasked with finding new tenants for the historic landmark where Amazon grew to be the world’s largest online retailer.
Employees who walked through this art-deco lobby will still remember the espresso bar and hair salon down the hall, the full-service cafeteria on the second floor and the expansive views from the auditorium on the eighth floor.
As I walked by empty work spaces, I could only imagine the vibe inside these walls. With so many young workers cramming 13 floors — even Jeff Bezos had a tiny office — it must have felt like a college dorm.
Beautiful art-deco patterns and limestone walls transport you back to the 1930s when you enter the former hospital.
A napkin holder is still laying on the counter of the espresso bar on the first floor. Michael Finch said a similar booth across the hall was used as a hair salon.
Picture Amazon employees waiting to the check-out at the cafeteria. The Smith Tower and other downtown landmarks are visible through the windows.
Michael Finch showed me around the executive quarters on the 6th floor. The office used by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has direct access to the fire exit but little views. I’m guessing he probably didn’t want to be distracted by the great views he could have enjoyed from other parts of the building.
The conference room on the 8th floor gives you an idea of those views.
The 13th floor was originally used as storage, but at some point Amazon also renovated it for office space.
January 18, 2013 at 7:23 PM
Sketched Jan. 9, 2013
When the Columbia City Cinema closed in 2011, many worried the neighborhood theater was gone for good. But just as the building was about to be leased for storage space, a good guy burst onto the scene to save the day.
In only three months, David McRae has brought the building up to code and replaced old movie reels with new digital projectors. All three screens of the new Ark Lodge Cinemas are now open and screening new releases including “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
The “film bug” runs in the family, says McRae, 52. He grew up helping his father run the Cine-Mond theater in Redmond in the ‘70s, before multiplexes became popular, and he spent the past two years doing film-to-digital conversions in theaters throughout the country.
McRae wants Ark Lodge to be a magnet for the diverse community of Columbia City. In addition to box-office hits, he plans to show independent films and even silent movies. And though he took a risk to get the theater up and running again, he says he’s in it “for the long run.”
The historic Ark Lodge, built by the Masons in 1921, still retains most of its character.
McRae has seen the transformation of the movie theater industry first hand. Films that used to be delivered in heavy boxes full of movie reels now come inside a hard-drive that he plugs into the projector. “You push play just like a DVR,” he said. In the sketch, McRae checks the show times programmed for “Promised Land.”
January 11, 2013 at 9:08 PM
When the Museum of History & Industry moved to the old Naval Reserve armory last month, the art-deco building from the Depression era became its newest, and largest, exhibition piece.
I’ve seen the monumental building many times, but I had never noticed how much it looks like an actual ship ready to sail into Lake Union.
The design wasn’t just a cute idea. Built in 1942, the armory was a training center for the Navy for more than five decades. Inside its “bridge,” which faces the lake, Navy reservists sharpened their navigational skills overlooking the water.
That room now features MOHAI’s maritime galleries, including a 40-foot submarine periscope that gives visitors a 360-degree view above Lake Union Park.
Below are more drawings from my visit. Give any of the sketches a good click to see them large!
This is the view of the armory as you walk into Lake Union Park. The Virginia V can be seen on the edge of the lake.
The drill hall where sailors used to practice marching formations showcases some of the best known items in MOHAI’s collection. The Boeing B-1 seaplane seemed much bigger than when I sketched it in one of the hallways of the old museum in Montlake.
Another cool exhibit located in the drill hall is an interactive display of Seattle-area symbols. Spin around a wheel and you’ll make the props move. Ann Farrington, the museum’s creative director, called it the biggest “calliope” you could think of.
December 10, 2012 at 1:58 PM
Sketched Dec. 3, 2012
The Northwest Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (NWAIA) awarded its 2012 Design Awards last week in Mount Vernon. Among the winners were a number of architectural gems I hope to draw one day: a cool modern-style house in the middle of the woods, creatively repurposed old buildings in Bellingham and Lynden, and even a charming gardening shed.
I know quite a bit about these projects because NWAIA invited me to be a juror on the competition, along with renowned local architects Ross Chapin, an expert in pocket neighborhoods, and Norm Strong, a veteran architect with the Miller Hull Partnership.
Julie Blazek, a partner with HKP Architects and one of the organizers of the awards program, said they always like to include jurors from the arts community who may bring a different perspective to the table. I was honored to fill in that role to the best of my abilities.
When reviewing the projects, I was a bit at a loss in aspects of architecture such as energy-efficiency, use of materials and so forth. But a guy who loves to draw buildings like me can tell you what type of architecture sparks his interest. Though it covers a wide range, from historic buildings to skyscrapers to little cottages, something is always common to the buildings I enjoy. They create a “sense of place,” a feel that they belong where they are. I think all the projects we awarded met that important benchmark.
The Lincoln Theatre in downtown Mount Vernon is a good example of that sense of place I’m referring to. My sketch of the facade is rather schematic, as I was pressed for time. I hope an opportunity to come back to Mount Vernon and finish the drawing presents itself soon.
December 7, 2012 at 5:42 PM
Sketched Nov. 27, 2012
Stop outside the Row House Cafe in South Lake Union to get a feel for how the neighborhood looked 100 years ago. Back then, the streets were lined with cottages like these that housed the laborers who worked in mills and shipyards around the lake.
Erin Maher, who runs the cafe, said the original owner of this trio of homes lived in the blue house on the corner and built the row houses next door for his employees in 1911.
With the neighborhood rapidly becoming a high-tech hub full of mid-rise office and apartment buildings, few of these centenarian homes still stand.
Any chance they’ll be preserved? Probably not. The market forces transforming the area seem unstoppable. To demonstrate the domino effect of progress, Maher pointed out the fate of nearby properties: “That building, gone. That building, gone. That building, gone.”
Another cluster of old homes remains on the corner of Fairview Avenue North and Republican Street, just a block away from the Row House Cafe.
November 30, 2012 at 7:49 PM
Sketched Nov. 21, 2012
The authentic Swiss-style Edelweiss Chalet, home to Boehms Candies since 1956, was built by Julius Boehm, an Austrian immigrant who relocated his chocolate factory from Seattle to Issaquah to be closer to the mountains.
Since Boehm passed away in 1981, longtime employee and current owner Bernard Garbusjuk has carried on the tradition of making good chocolate and welcoming visitors to the factory and grounds, which include a replica of a 12th-century chapel that Boehm dedicated to fallen mountaineers.
Garbusjuk’s face lit up as people flocked into the store on the rainy day I was there. He marveled that people still make the trek to the chalet for holiday sweets.
“Isn’t it wonderful?” he said. “We are not just retail; we are a landmark.”
Mindi Reid, Boehms Candies in-house historian, said group tours of the chalet and the High Alpine Chapel (also known as the Luis Trenker Chapel) are offered by appointment during the winter months. In the summer, scheduled tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday. For more details and directions, visit Boehms site at boehmscandies.com.
October 19, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Sketched Oct. 16, 2012
The door of the gutted house was cracked open, but I didn’t see Edith Macefield’s ghost roaming around.
You may remember her story. When Macefield died at age 86 in 2008, a five-story retail and commercial center was being built around her little Ballard house. Despite a $1 million offer from developers, she refused to sell, reminding us with her defiance that some things in life are, well, priceless.
In her will, Macefield left the house to one of the workers she befriended during the construction of the center, the Ballard Blocks. He later sold it for $310,000 to Greg Pinneo, a real estate investor who announced plans to elevate it 30-feet off the ground and create a space below known as “Credo Square.”
Pinneo’s business partner Lois MacKenzie said the upgrade is about to begin, though the house won’t be elevated. The revised plan is to transform what remains of the tiny cottage into a cozy nightly rental with room for six people, and it may be called “Edith’s House at Credo Square.”
Sketched Oct. 9, 2012
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
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