On Tuesday, June 23rd at 9:30 AM, the Parks and Seattle Center Committee of the Seattle City Council will meet. On the agenda is the usual boring stuff, like the Chair’s report, authorizing an agreement for Festivals, Inc. to run the Bite of Seattle, and possibly designating a section of Bell Street (between 1st and 5th) as a “park boulevard.” And, of course, the meeting will be open for public comments after the Chair’s report.
This is where the really interesting stuff comes in.
Also, on the agenda for Tuesday is discussion and possible voting on limitations and/or controls on Cooper and Pantages Houses, both designated Historic Landmarks. If you live on Capitol Hill, are interested in old things, architecture, or Seattle history, you will be interested in this meeting. The timing of committee meetings is incredibly inconvenient for most people, but if you can get the time off of work, or are able to comment via email, please do so. Citizen input = responsive government. /soapbox
Cooper House. Photo courtesy of Historic Seattle.
Cooper House was built on land acquired by Seattle real estate developer James Moore in 1900; Moore purchased 160 acres, which he subdivided into 800 lots collectively named “Capitol Hill.” John O. Cooper acquired the Cooper House parcel in 1902 and applied for a building permit. Very unusually at the time, the building was designed to be a duplex, with an estimated cost of $5,000. Construction was completed in 1904. In 1914, the Coopers sold the property to John E. Minkler; the Minkler family owned the property until 1958.
In 2005, the building was targeted for demolition, but local resident Paul Slane was inspired to nominate the building for Landmark status. Slane, a retired Boeing employee, spent the summer of 2005 researching and writing his nomination. The result of his efforts was the preservation of Cooper House. Reportedly, Board members burst into spontaneous applause after Slane’s presentation. Slane, who has since passed away, remains something of a hero to the folks at Historic Seattle.
Pantages House. Photo courtesy of Historic Seattle.
The Pantages House has an even more colorful history: Alexander Pantages was a Greek immigrant who became an early motion picture mogul, via brothel-keeping, burlesque, and vaudeville. While Pantages theatres were known for elegance, good taste, cleanliness, and efficiency, Pantages personal life met none of those standards. Infamous Madame “Klondike” Kate Rockwell, Alexander Pantages’ former lover and business partner, sued him for breach-of-promise in 1902, and in 1929, Pantages stood trial for the rape of 17-year-old aspiring dancer Eunice Pringle. Pantages was initially convicted and sentenced to 50 years for the rape, but won on appeal. Contemporary rumor had it that Pantages was framed by Joseph Kennedy and RKO Pictures, in order to force Pantages to sell his theatres to RKO, which he, in fact, did after the second trial, and for a far lower price than RKO had originally offered for the chain.
The Committee has the power to determine what cosmetic and structural changes can be made to these lovely and historic buildings. Citizens and residents with an interest should make every effort to comment and/or attend. Also, Historic Seattle is always hoping for another Paul Slane to come to the rescue of some poor, neglected piece of Seattle history: Historic Seattle holds Landmark Nomination Workshops twice a year. Find out more HERE.