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


By the Wayside

Through its 67 years, the stucco structure at Republican Street and Second Avenue North was used as a home for working women, an emergency hospital and an apartment house.  
Since 1983, the Bagley Wright Theater has held the west side of Second Avenue North between Republican and Mercer Streets. The Rep's new Leo Kreielsheimer Theater was added in 1996 in a new south wing, directly on the site of the old Sarah B. Yesler Home. This photo, taken at the recent Bumbershoot festival, looks northwest across the intersection of Republican and Second.

THE CLARION apartment house at the northwest corner of Republican Street and Second Avenue North was destroyed to make room for Century 21, the 1962 world's fair in Seattle. Of all the structures that had a footprint on the site of the future Seattle Center, it was easily one of the most historical and colorful. The stucco and fir siding was done up in pastels of pink, peach and cream.

To raise the remaining $1,500 needed to complete their new home for "working girls and women," the Woman's Home Association sponsored a loaned-art exhibit in the summer of 1891. Pioneer Seattle historian Clarence Bagley described it as "a notable step forward both in art and in benevolence . . . The wealth of the art treasures on exhibition was a revelation to persons who did not know to what extent fine paintings and curios had accumulated in Seattle homes."

Pioneer industrialist Henry Yesler paid for the home's furnishings, and when it opened in October the following year the home was named for his deceased wife, the philanthropist Sarah B. Yesler.

By 1907, the year the Wayside Mission Hospital moved from its condemned waterfront premises on the old side-wheeler Idaho to the Yesler home, single women could find their own housing. The "New Wayside Emergency Hospital" and its health services for the poor were supported by the city until 1909, when Seattle opened its own public-health hospital. The Wayside struggled on until 1913, the last year it is listed in the city directory.

For the greater part of its life, the old home served as an apartment house, first as the Clinton and last as the Clarion.

Pioneer Seattle architect James Nestor designed the Yesler home. Soon after his arrival here in 1883 from Portland, Nestor got the grand commission to design the Frye Opera House. With its 1959 destruction, the Yesler home was most likely the last of his local creations to hit the ground.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.

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