Cover Story Plant Life On Fitness Northwest Living Taste Now & Then


The Moran Home
  With the regrade of Denny Hill, Lenora Street east of Second Avenue was lowered nearly 100 feet during 1908 and 1909. Most of the Denny Hill structures were destroyed, including the Moran family home on Lenora Street.

NEW EVIDENCE of the old Denny Hill neighborhood is always a treat. This home at 216 Lenora Street was the domestic retreat for the industrious Moran clan, and we can only imagine what magnitude of zest must have been regularly played out here.

The photograph was taken in 1895, five years after Robert Moran concluded his second term as Seattle mayor and only 20 years since, with one dime in his pocket, he was (in his own words) "dumped on Yesler's wharf at the foot of Yesler Way at the age of 17, without a friend or relative nearer than New York."

The hungry teenager's nose led him to a wharf cafe run by Bill Gross, a "fine five-hundred weight colored man who operated what he named Our House. Well, it certainly proved to be my house. I got my breakfast on credit. Bill was a fine cook."

After seven years of working on steamboats, Moran opened his own marine-repair shop on Yesler's wharf in 1882. Five years later he was elected to the City Council and in two years more, mayor. The city's "Great Fire" of 1889 came on his watch and the talented machinist helped engineer the rebuilding of Seattle.

In the year Moran shot this photograph of his home, he added steel-hulled shipbuilding to his ever growing business. Nine years later he launched the battleship Nebraska from his shipyard south of Pioneer Square. Also in 1904, he retired with his wife and five children to Rosario, the lavish country estate he was then building on Orcas Island.

In the 1960s another industrialist, John Fluke, discovered this image among many glass negatives in the Rosario attic. Fluke foreman Hal Will printed them up and it is Will - founder and longtime editor of the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society publication SeaChest - who shares with us a new glimpse into the lost Denny Hill neighborhood.

Vol. 1 and a new edition of Vol. 3 of Paul Dorpat's books, "Seattle Now & Then" are $19.95 each from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.

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