What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Cebert Baillargeron of this city is now in Paris on duty with the Naval personnel of the Peace Conference, and, “the second of a series of Victory dances was given at the New Masonic Temple. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There was a discussion of the citizenship of the Japanese in the January 25, 1919 edition of the Town Crier. “Really, The Town Crier, ever sincere in its admiration for consistency, is not at all able to convince itself that there is any justice in racial discrimination in regard to citizenship.” They suggested that the criterion for eligibility should be something else than ethnological classification. The tests for citizenship should be education, physical and moral fitness, and “wealth to a degree sufficient to insure against becoming a public charge.” Those criteria—not the matter of birthplace. “We of Seattle have among us Japanese gentlemen of culture, refinement and sterling character, whom it is a pleasure to know and to associate with.” The story continues, “They pay their taxes, and their creditors, lend active support to every public enterprise and do their best to build up the city and their own businesses…So far as one can judge by their speech or conduct, no one of us has Seattle’s best interests more at heart.”

In the heart of Seattle’s International District is the Wing Luke Museum. As a National Park Service Affiliated Area and the first Smithsonian affiliate in the Pacific Northwest, the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience offers an authentic and unique perspective on the American story. The museum is nationally recognized for their work in creating dynamic, community-driven exhibitions and programs with their community at the heart of each exhibition they create.

From the struggles of early Asian pioneers, like those sterling Japanese mentioned in the Town Crier, to accomplished works by national Asian Pacific American artists, the Wing Luke Museum showcases their uniquely American story.

Current exhibits include “Worlds Beyond Here,” exploring the connection between Asian Pacific Americans and the infinite possibilities of science fiction; and “Wham! Bam! Pow!,” an exhibit featuring the works of Vishavjit Singh, AKA Sikh Captain America, who spoke at Town Hall this past October.

Learn more about the Wing Luke here.

Elevator Pitch

Town Hall’s historic renovation is in its homestretch. We’ll reopen in the coming months but there’s still work to do!  Help us raise $200,000 in new gifts by the end of February and an anonymous donor will match your gifts, dollar-for-dollar. Learn more here.

While we’re eager to open our doors again, we’re starting a new series entitled “If These Halls Could Talk,” highlighting specific upgrades and enhancements to our building. One renovation we’re particularly happy with is our elevator. We’ve installed a gleaming, bright, state-of-the-art thyssenkrupp elevator. It recently had a talk with our old elevator, Otis.

thyssenkrupp: Otis, you did good work.

Otis: Thanks! I was moving people up and down at Town Hall for years!

thyssenkrupp: You’ve got quite a storied history.

Otis: Do I ever! Otis is the world’s largest manufacturer of vertical transportation systems! Otis invented the “safety elevator” in 1852. Sweet Elisha Otis was our founder. After he demonstrated his newfangled elevator at the 1854 World’s Fair in New York City, the elevator industry established credibility! His 1857 steam plow invention didn’t gain steam though. Ha!

thyssenkrupp: You’re telling me that without Otis, I wouldn’t be here!

Otis: You’re too kind! But, yes. Not to brag, but our elevators have been in some of the world’s most famous structures.

thyssenkrupp: Do tell!

Otis: The Eiffel Tower. Have you heard of it?! Oh, I have stories. The Empire State Building. That’s pretty famous. The original World Trade Center. CN Tower. Oh. And yes, of course, Town Hall Seattle.

thyssenkrupp: I’m honored to follow in your illustrious footsteps and add something new.

Otis: How so?

thyssenkrupp: Modernization. Innovation. Efficiency.

Otis: Indeed. Your engineering prowess is first rate.

thyssenkrupp: In 40 short years we’ve become one of the world’s leading elevator companies with unique engineering capabilities. Saving energy and time is what I’m known for. When done well, urban mobility drives down congestion, pollution, stress, and energy consumption.

Otis: Archimedes, what would he think of you now?!

thyssenkrupp: Good ol’ Archimedes! He reportedly built the world’s first elevator, probably in 236 BC.

Otis: And here you are, carrying on his legacy.

thyssenkrupp: I plan to! I’m an endura 35 II A with a 3,500 pound capacity. A smooth, quiet, and efficient workhorse, I am quite suited for Town Hall’s demands. I’m a part of thyssenkrupp AG that has over 155,000 employees in nearly 80 countries! One of the world’s largest steel producers, our products range from frigates to submarines, trains to a Town Hall elevator.

Otis: I’m floored.

thyssenkrupp: Ha! Don’t forget that you can help raise me, and Town Hall, up with a financial contribution. Do it today!  

Drink Up for Town Hall

“There is no question in the mind of any intelligent person,” noted the August 12, 1916 edition of the Town Crier, “that intemperance is probably the worst curse that humanity labors under.”

Temperance. The social movement stands against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, emphasizing the negative effects of booze on health, personality, and family life. The movement led to Prohibition in the United States from 1920 to 1933. Washington State actually started their own Prohibition on January 1, 1916—making the production, distribution, and possession of liquor illegal. Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but during that entire time Seattle didn’t really stop producing, distributing, or possessing liquor. No, not at all. At one point, Seattle had about 4,000 illegal speakeasies in its city limits.

“Certainly the present boot-legging atmosphere is unendurable and destructive to the moral fibre of our manhood – an intolerable condition in which to bring up our youth,” the Crier stressed. But, then again, it noted, “In every other respect there is practically nothing the matter with Seattle and it is the finest and best city in the world.”

Indeed—Seattle is arguably the finest and best city in the world these days for beer. In fact, the whole state is great. Want to learn more? The Washington Beer Commission is a good place to start.

Better yet – want to drink and support Town Hall at the same time? You can! There are a series of “Drink Up for Town Hall” events in the coming weeks! Don’t miss this chance to stay warm, have a drink, and discuss your favorite Town Hall events with old friends and new.

Join us at:

Optimism Brewing Company on January 31. Town Hall will get $1 for every draft you buy!

Capitol Cider on February 6. Town Hall will get $1 for every draft you buy!

Vito’s on February 13. Town Hall will get 10% of all drink sales that night!

Lagunitas Brewing Company on February 19. Town Hall will get all beer sale proceeds!

Cheers, friends!

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “If there is anything in this straw-blowing matter, it would seem Seattle is hungry for music, and, “it was interesting to learn of the election of Mrs. Agnes H. Anderson to the board of directors of the National Bank of Commerce of this city. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

There is an ad on page 11 of the January 18, 1919 edition of the Town Crier highlighting superb productions, coming soon, by the San Carlo Grand Opera Company. “America’s greatest touring organization,” the ad exclaimed, “one hundred people, distinguished American and European stars, symphony orchestra, brilliant chorus, superb stage settings.” On Thursday they were to perform Aida. Friday – Madama Butterfly. On Saturday, Romeo and Juliet and Il Trovatore. Juliet was to played by Queena Mario opposite the appropriately named Romeo Boscacci. The Il Trovatore cast was to consist of, amongst others, Angelo Antola, Estelle Wentworth, and Natale Cervi.

What show is coming soon to ACT Theatre? Romeo and Juliet.

What production is currently being staged at the Seattle Opera? Il Trovatore.

The classic story of two young star-crossed lovers who are kept apart by feuding families is directed for the contemporary stage like never before. ACT is partnering with leaders in the Deaf community to create a production that honors the glorious language of Shakespeare’s timeless play and makes it accessible for Deaf and hearing audiences alike. It will star Joshua Castille as Romeo and Gabriella O’Fallon as Juliet. You can learn more about the production, coming in March, here.

Packed with more hit songs than any opera but Carmen, Giuseppe Verdi’s hot-blooded melodrama thrills with swift action, intense pathos, and multiple moments where singers shine. The cast, depending on performance, includes Angela Meade, Issachah Savage, Elana Gabouri, and Lester Lynch. It is currently on stage at McCaw Hall. Learn more here.

On Town Hall’s Architect George Foote Dunham

Nearly $30 million dollars in renovations later, Town Hall’s building is in its homestretch of reopening, even with some unforeseen delays. It’ll be as bright, shiny, and beautiful as it was when it first opened, but now with all the 21st century amenities. (We’re in the final push of the campaign to fund our historic renovation. Help us raise $200,000 in new gifts before March 1 and an anonymous donor will match your gifts, dollar-for-dollar! Learn more, here.)

The building was originally built as Seattle’s Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist. Construction began in 1916. It was designed by Portland architect George Foote Dunham (1876-1949). Built in the Roman Revival style, he wanted it to resemble, in updated terms, Rome’s Pantheon. The church owned the building from 1916 until 1998, when the congregation sold it to Town Hall LLC.

The Christian Science Movement was founded in Boston in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) who taught spiritual and physical healing through devotion to Christian principles. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in Boston, Massachusetts and opened in 1894. Christian Science became the fastest growing religion in the United States, reaching nearly 270,000 members at its peak in 1936. The Manual of the Mother Church prohibits the church from publishing membership figures. However, it does provide names of Christian Science practitioners (members trained to offer Christian Science prayer on behalf of others). In 1941 there were 11,200 practitioners in the United States. In 2015, there were 965.

Seattle’s fourth Christian Science group formed in Seattle in 1909 with 41 members, meeting in rented spaces at Seattle’s Arcade Hall and the Hippodrome Theatre before Dunham began design and construction. Their new building was erected in two phases, first from 1916 through 1917 and later between 1922 and 1923. The main auditorium, named “Great Hall,” had curved pews that could seat 825 people. We will still have those pews in our newly renovated building. During its service as a church, the Great Hall housed weekly readings of the Bible and Eddy’s Science and Health With Keys to the Scriptures, as well as musical performances. The church installed a theatre organ in 1923. Because acoustics were important to churchgoers, Dunham carefully calibrated the sound projection within the Great Hall. Its shallow dome and thick walls provided good sound. (Town Hall’s new acoustic reflector will offer great sound, by the way. Also, we’ve permanently installed a Hearing Loop system in all our performance spaces.) There are no religious symbols adorning the church, nor most any Christian Science church.

Dunham himself was born September 17, 1876 in Burlington, Iowa. He attended the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago, graduating in 1900, and was soon employed as a draftsman with the late Solon Spencer Beman, who designed Milwaukee’s first skyscraper, the Pabst Building. Dunham worked at Beman’s architectural firm from 1900-1906 until moving to Portland, Oregon where he stayed for 23 years, starting his own firm in 1910. He joined the Portland Architectural Club in 1913 and was treasurer of the American Institute of Architects, Oregon Chapter in 1925.

Most known for his residential work in Portland, Dunham also designed several other Christian Science Churches. He built First Church of Christ, Scientist in Portland with Beman; First Church of Christ, Scientist in Victoria, British Columbia; Spokane’s Second Church of Christ, Scientist; as well as other edifices in St. Louis and Orlando, Florida where he relocated to in 1929 until his death in 1949.

Sidebar: here’s a fun story about Dunham’s wife driving across the country from Portland to Orlando in a car she called “Old Faithful.”

Do you want to help build upon this history? Give a new gift of $500 or more to have your name inscribed on a custom-crafted plaque on the Great Hall stage—a reminder every time we come together that Town Hall truly belongs to all of us. Learn more, here.

Toasting Mozart

Mozart has been the toast of Seattle for quite some time. The old Town Crier (that ran locally from 1910 to 1938) has a plethora of references of concerts done by symphonies and choral groups; chamber music orchestras and soloists playing the renowned work of one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

For instance, a review of Fritz Kreisler playing Mozart’s “Concerto in G-major” can be found in the January 21st, 1933 edition of the Crier. “Mozart was flawlessly played,” the review enthuses. “The infinite unwearying grace of this music is perfectly suited to Mr. Kreisler’s minutely shaded manner. So many varieties of tone color from one instrument, such sweeping flights of spicatto and simplicity of the adagio flowingly phrased.”

The reviewer got very excited. “Writing with this music still in my ears there is a temptation to simply set down a restrained row of exclamation points so !!!!!!!! and have done with the search for mere inexpressive and over-worked words.”

Mozart’s birthday was only six days after that glowing Crier review of Mozart and Kreisler.


Byron Schenkman

For Town Hall’s ninth annual toast to Mozart’s birthday, host and curator Byron Schenkman will take their place on the piano for an evening performance of classical favorites. They are joined by Lee Peterson on piano, Nathan Whittaker on cello, and Rachell Ellen Wong on violin. After the concert there will be a reception and birthday toast in celebration of the legendary composer.

The concert repertoire will feature: Sonata in C Major, K. 19 d, for piano, four hands; Sonata in F Major, K. 376, for violin and piano; Variations on theme of Salieri, for piano; and Trio in B-flat Major, K. 502, for violin, cello, and piano.

This is very exciting!!!!!!!!

Buy your tickets now!!!!!!!!

Exclamation points!!!!!!!!

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “Miss McGrath, one of the most attractive girls of the younger set, was introduced this season at a delightful dancing party given at the Sunset Club, and, “the mid-winter frolic Hesperian Dancing Club will be given this evening in the Junior Ballroom. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

90 years ago, in the January 12, 1929 edition, the Town Crier was crying about the lack of good restaurants in the city.

“If all the little French and Italian restaurants in San Francisco make money, and surely most of them must on account of how old they are, there is no reason why someone sufficiently ingenious couldn’t start some similar eating houses in Seattle.” The story continued, “With Seattle developing more and more into an apartment house and hotel city, the demand for good restaurants is bound to increase.”

The writer then hits some of Seattle’s hot spots. “There is a small Japanese restaurant down on Main Street that is clean and an excellent place for suki-yaki. But you can’t eat suki-yaki too often, or your taste for it wanes.”

They visited a Russian place. “There is a tempting variety of dishes on the menu, and the soups and pastry, in particular, are memorable.”

They struck fear in readers in regards to fish and chip joints. Fish and chips can be procured “in generous measure for the modest sum of two bits in a quaint restaurant overlooking the waterfront but the atmosphere and service is so – now – rough and ready.”

As for Italian restaurants – “Oh, yes,…there are two or three places where passable Italian spaghetti can be had.” The best of the Italian places had to be closed, though, “the law having discovered once too often evidence of stronger refreshments than tobasco [sic] sauce.”

The writer all but gave up trying to find suitable eats in the city. “Any suggestions from our public will be duly appreciated, investigated and a full report rendered.”

Today, there are award-winning restaurants seemingly around every street corner. Zagat’s 50 Best Restaurants in Seattle includes such establishments as Mamnoon, The Walrus and the Carpenter, Joule, Canlis, Shiro’s Sushi, The Harvest Vine, Pecos Pit Bar-B-Que, Le Pichet, and many others. Seattleite restaurateurs aren’t strangers to James Beard Award nominations, either. New restaurants are opening up all the time.

Perhaps a New Year Resolution of yours should be to visit some of these fine spots. Let us know if there’s a place that serves stronger refreshments than Tabasco sauce. Also—if you discover a really great fish and chip place, by all means, let us know. We will surely investigate and render a full report.

Fare Thee Well, Viaduct

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is closed forever tonight. Viadoom, we’re calling the traffic problems we’ll now have for a few weeks and months now that it is no more. Viaductpocalypse, we’re calling it. Here’s the Seattle TimesSurvival Guide for it.

The October 4, 1924 issue of the Town Crier was crying about traffic problems in a piece entitled, appropriately, “Traffic Problems.” “The rapid increase in numbers of the automobile has created a nation-wide traffic congestion,” it laments. “The pressure is growing constantly greater. Take a look at the Bothell Highway or the Seattle-Tacoma road on a Sunday afternoon for a hint at what the future is likely to bring.”

The future brought it. “Money, study and cooperation are necessary to the solution of the problem,” the writer says. “Money is required to build new roads, more roads, better roads, and wider roads.” The writer continues, “City planners and road-builders with foresight and the necessary money a century or more ago would have solved our problem before it arose. It is doubtful whether we will have the foresight and money to solve the traffic problem in the future.”

When the first phase of the Alaskan Way Viaduct opened in 1953 the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said, “The viaduct looms like a royal necklace across the bosom of the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest.”

The Alaskan Way Viaduct in 1956. Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives, item No. 53373

The viaduct was completed in full in 1959—a triumph of engineering and civic team spirit to solve Seattle’s traffic woes.

By the 1970s the viaduct was considered an eyesore. By the 1990s it was considered a safety threat. An earthquake at a magnitude 7.5 or greater would undoubtedly bring the whole thing down. It was also overworked. The structure was designed expecting to carry 65,000 vehicles a day, but by the 1990s its load was averaging 110,000 vehicles a day.  

What will happen once the tunnel that replaces the viaduct opens? We’ll find out soon enough. “Cooperation,” the Crier noted, “is most essential in the untangling of our transportation jam. Those that must cooperate are the motorists, the pedestrians and the street car systems.”

We hear you, Crier. Let us all do our best to untangle.

(In remembrance of the viaduct, Town Hall’s own Jonathan Shipley has been documenting his travels across it on Instagram)

Jazz Maniacs

There was much concern in the February 25, 1922 edition of the Town Crier. The writers were worried about this thing called jazz music. They questioned, “Will the willingness of some musicians yield abjectly to the existing ‘jazz-craze’ even though momentarily financially remunerative, not eventually prove socially demeaning?” They thought most certainly it would prove socially demeaning.

“Musically speaking,” the story continued, “these are the impressions: The fiddle whines and wails, reminding one of Mr. Thomas Cat on a moonlight night, inviting bootjack bouquets from back windows.” The saxophone was no better. It “bawls periodically like a lonesome cow.”

Don’t get the writer started on trombones. It “heaves up spasmodically like the fellow who has imbibed too freely of boot-legging moisture.” The cornet is a “cackling hen,” and the poor piano is “pulverized with arpeggios and chromatics until you can think of nothing else than a clumsy waiter with a tin tray full of china and cutlery taking a ‘header’ down a flight of concrete steps.”

So much for musical effect. The writer doesn’t care much for the music…nor the musicians. “A bunch of intoxicated clowns,” the Crier cries, “indulging in all sorts of physical gyrations.”

Gadzooks! What a mess Seattle’s music scene was in 1922. The writer all but knew the jazz craze would die down but the musicians would forever be marked as clowns. “In the interest of conserving the dignity of the musical profession I would ask contractors to minimize what I believe will be a detriment to all of us.”

Jazz did not die down—not in Seattle, not anywhere. It was just heating up. Just as the writers were beginning to lament Seattle’s jazz scene, four women were bringing jazz further into the fore. From 1918 to 1924, pianist Gertrude Harvey Wright was one of four women in Seattle’s first black musicians’ union, the American Federation of Musicians’ Local 458.

Gertrude Harvey Wright, Virginia Hughes, Edythe Turnham, and a Mrs. Austin, all worked with their male counterparts at union headquarters and on the bandstand. Morphing to the AFM 493, the union, along with Local 76, co-existed for the next forty years, becoming the pillar of Seattle’s jazz scene.

The 493 Union represented such jazz greats as Ray Charles, Phil Moore, and Quincy Jones.

Edythe Turnham and Band

Some of those early women musicians who made their mark include Ann Coy who played piano and headed The Black Aces with her husband. The aforementioned Edythe Turnham headed her own big band, The Knights of Syncopation. Evelyn Bundy was a member of the Garfield Ramblers and, later, led the Garfield High School band.

Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. Photo by Jim Levitt.

Today, there are plenty of local jazz women. In fact, there are entire organizations. Seattle Women in Jazz is the first organization of its kind locally to specifically highlight some of Seattle’s best jazz artists and bands, led by and/or comprised of women. One of those bands is the Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra. Seattle JazzED has its own Girls Ellington Project Ensemble for 9th to 12-graders.  

Jazz maniacs, all. The echoes of Gertrude Harvey Wright’s piano can still be heard. The bawling saxophone of Turnham’s big band is still bawling.

We’re all the better for it.

What Are People Doing?

Every week the Town Crier blog will look back at Seattle’s near forgotten Town Crier magazine to see what was happening then and talk about what’s happening now. One of the largest sections of the original Town Crier was “What People Are Doing,” highlighting things like, “It was a gay party at the Sunset Club on New Years night when two hundred members and guests sat down to dinner amid brilliant holiday decorations, and, “Miss Betty Brainerd has been ill with influenza at the Waldorf Hotel. In this new series we’re revisiting the old column and tying it to our community’s current happenings, asking: “what are people doing?”

Today’s entry…

“A portrait of quality and distinction,” the ad reads in the January 4, 1919 edition of the Town Crier, “will always bear the name Curtis.” It continues, jovially, “We heartily solicit your patronage for the New Year.” The name Curtis is a famous one in photography circles.

Edward Curtis

Edward Curtis (1868-1952) was an American photographer and ethnologist who spent much of his career based in Seattle, all the while devoting his life to producing one of the most extensive and expensive photographic projects ever undertaken—The North American Indian. Between 1900 and 1930, Curtis captured the ways of life of over 80 Native cultures, producing over 40,000 glass plate negatives, 10,000 wax cylinder recordings, 4,000 pages of anthropological text, and a feature length film, In the Land of the Head Hunters—the first feature-length film whose cast was composed entirely of Native North Americans.

Town Hall’s Jonathan Shipley wrote about Edward Curtis’s project for Fine Book Magazine some time back. That story can be read here.

The Seattle Art Museum recently exhibited his works in their show “Double Exposure” that featured 150 images by Curtis, alongside immersive experiences from three contemporary artists.

In Pioneer Square, not far from Curtis’ original studio, is Flury & Company who specializes in Curtis’ photographic work and antique American Indian art. The store is open Monday through Saturday.

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