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Now & Then Paul Dorpat

At First, The Long View

More than a few publishers and local historians have silently thanked Fred Dorsaz and/or Edward Schwerin for carrying their studio's camera to the top floor of the nearly new Frye Opera House to record this local classic, a bird's-eye into North Seattle.

The scene looks over Madison Street, up Front Street (First Avenue), across the distant rooftops of Belltown and far beyond to the still hardly marked Magnolia Peninsula.

There was a touch of opportunism and pride in the partner's climb and recording. The original photo card has "Souvenir Art Studio" printed across the bottom, and if you look hard, you can see their business name written again on the banner that stands out against the dark trees near the center of their photograph.

The Souvenir banner is strung over Front Street between the Pacific Drug Store building, bottom right, and the Kenyon Block, bottom left. The Souvenir Art Studio rented quarters in "capitalist J. Gardner Kenyon's" namesake commercial building. Taking clues from the few signs attached to its sides, so did the Globe Printing Co. (one of only four job printers listed in the 1885-'86 City Directory), William P. Stanley's books, stationary and wallpaper store, and Robert Abernethy's "boots and shoes" store. Like its owner Kenyon, Abernethy, it seems, also conveniently lived in the Kenyon Block.

In "King County History," pioneer historian Clarence Bagley dates this view "about 1887." Given the absence in this scene of important 1887 additions and the presence of structures not around in 1885, the likely date is 1886.

"Washington Then and Now," the new book by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45) or through Tartu Publications at P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.

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