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Saturday, November 3, 2012 - Page updated at 09:30 a.m.

Now & Then
A busy Seattle site of tea, food, the USO and now the symphony, ca. 1937

By Paul Dorpat
Special to The Seattle Times

TEN YEARS before its speedy 1924 conversion into the Hollywood Tavern, this "English château restaurant and apartment hotel" opened as the Northold Inn. Guests attending its 1914 New Year's Eve party dined from a $1 (fixed price) menu and were serenaded by George Hagstrom's orchestra.

The Northold and its English-teatime environment were the inspiration of its gregarious manager, C.S. Colegrove, who also managed the Fraser-Paterson Department Store's Tea Room next door.

Encouraged by the popularity of the tea room, Colegrove built this English ringer in an "early Craftsman style," then "flooded it with good cheer, the warmth of a massive fireplace, big black leather settees and deep carpets."

The quick change from Northold to Hollywood was done with Colegrove's blessings. "It will be continued along exactly the same lines," he said.

The tavern's prices crashed with the Great Depression. A 1932 ad promises "Talk-of-the-town full-course dinners served every day — for 50 cents." Neil McMillan, the tavern's owner, died early in 1937, the year of our "then" tax photo. A "for rent" sign is posted above the scrawl of the photograph's tax information.

During World War II, the persevering landmark was mobilized as a USO dormitory; after the war, it became the American Legion's 40 et 8 Club headquarters. As such, it served the legion for more years than it was an inn and tavern.

In 1975 food service returned. The new Mediaeval Inn resembled a feudal banqueting hall in which costumed "wenches" served mead (honey wine), Cornish game hens, potatoes and crusty bread while minstrels sang ballads and told bawdy jokes. Twenty-three years later, the spot officially became home to the Seattle Symphony in the shining Benaroya Hall.

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

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