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Originally published Friday, September 27, 2013 at 10:09 AM

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Converted from church to stage in Seattle regrade, ca. 1906

Charles A. Taylor staged exhibits and sideshows in a new, street-level first floor at Pine Street and Third Avenue. About 12 feet up, he directed the “spectacular ‘Children’s Fairyland.’ ”

Special to The Seattle Times

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CHARLES A. TAYLOR, a popular stage-show producer operating in Seattle around the turn of the last century, seized an opportunity on the southeast corner of Pine Street and Third Avenue in 1906.

One of the massive street-regrading projects reshaping swaths of downtown back then was heading for the First Methodist Protestant Church that stood on that corner. Facing a regrade that would leave the Gothic-arched entrance to its sanctuary one floor above the sidewalk, the city’s second-oldest church moved to a new stone building on Capitol Hill.

Taylor had been operating as the Third Avenue Theatre six blocks away on Madison Street for 16 years. But that building was scheduled for demolition to make way for another regrade. Taylor, seeing the church vacated, seized the moment and moved his theater into the space.

Within days, he had the church transformed into an “amusement resort” called Taylor’s Castle Garden, and rehearsals began.

A Seattle Times review of the Dec. 1, 1906, opening night revealed that for Taylor’s program of “extravaganza and vaudeville, with few exceptions every seat in the big playhouse was filled.” Taylor staged exhibits and sideshows in a new, street-level first floor, while about 12 feet up he directed the “spectacular ‘Children’s Fairyland’ with a chorus of singers and dancers numbering more than 100,” all of it supported by the “difficult dancing” of Linnie Love, a “well-known Seattle girl” with her own stage name.

After some managerial squabbling with one of his supporters, Taylor closed the Castle, and flipped it into a stage for farce and melodrama. It took back the old name of Third Avenue Theater and operated for two more years.

In that time, Denny Hill came down to the north, across Pine Street, and another “castle,” the landmark Washington Hotel, revealed here in part at far left, with it.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.

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