West Seattle, Washington
He’s the man who literally wrote the book on West Seattle history, and for the past 4+ years, he has been the main cheerleader for appreciating, stewarding, celebrating, exploring, and recording it. Today,Clay Eals has announced he’ll be making way for someone else – not yet hired – to lead the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. Here’s the news release:
The Southwest Seattle Historical Society soon will seek a new executive director to succeed heritage advocate Clay Eals, who has resigned after four-and-a-quarter years in the position.
In a letter to the organization’s board, Eals wrote that his decision to step down stems from “a desire to spend more time focusing on other aspects of my life.”
His departure will be effective in mid-July. The board plans to begin advertising for the full-time position later this month and hopes to fill the position in time for the successor to overlap with Eals, who has been involved with the historical society since its founding in 1984.
Eals became the historical society’s first executive director in January 2013. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity, adding that he is confident that the organization’s mission, track record and board leadership will result in continued organizational success.
The author, historian and ex-journalist wrote in his resignation letter that the timing of the transition would be “as good as it gets” for the organization.
“We just finished a huge phase of our Junction landmark campaign, and between now and mid-July several manageable events (including the Sea View Hall home tour) can be pulled off while attention is devoted to a hiring process,” he wrote. “Most important is that there is enough time to get a new executive director on board to become immersed in the planning and execution of our 2017 Champagne Gala Brunch.”
As executive director, Eals has seen himself as a pied piper, bringing together members, volunteers, donors, sponsors and community leaders to achieve and monitor landmark status for iconic buildings, assemble Group Hug photo events featuring school children and others at key sites, champion programs and collections of the organization’s “Birthplace of Seattle” Log House Museum, deepen relations with the Duwamish Tribe, create and sustain two monthly speaker series, revive the historical society’s annual “If These Walls Could Talk” home tours, broaden the organization’s visibility, and deepen its financial viability.
Primary responsibilities of the position are fundraising, outreach, volunteer recruitment, staff supervision and overall management. In addition to the full-time position of executive director, the historical society has two paid part-time staff positions of curator and museum operations coordinator.
“We will so miss Clay in his departure from our organization,” says Karen Sisson, who became board president of the historical society in January.
“We have appreciated the guidance Clay has shown us,” she says. “Clay has left us in such a better place than when he came to the organization, so now we are able to take what he has given us, build on that solid ground and reach for the stars! We wish him well with his ventures and will welcome his involvement with us in the future as a seasoned volunteer.”
For more information on the search for a new executive director, please contact Karen Sisson at 206-579-0126 or email@example.com.
(Photo credit: Joanne Murray)
“A sign might not seem like a big deal, but a sign is everything.” That’s how Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals kicked off a media briefing this morning next to the sign you see above – one of four now in place on the low and high West Seattle Bridges, marking the waterway they span, which carries the name of our area’s First People.
That’s our video of the entire event, held along the bicycle/pedestrian path on the “low bridge” alongside its control tower. Eals explained that the signage was first suggested about a year ago at the launch of a photography book called “Once and Future River” and was shepherded by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold. She did not attend this morning’s briefing, but Eals was joined on the bridge by two well-known members of the Duwamish Tribe. Ken Workman, member of the Duwamish Tribal Council, is great-great-great-great-grandson of Chief Seattle, and noted that the sign is over the stretch of the river where his family once had a longhouse:
James Rasmussen is coordinator of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition:
Both acknowledged and hailed the significance of the signage – a small yet mighty form of recognition, even as the tribe continues battling for federal recognition of its existence and treaty rights, which Workman said is a matter once again in Bureau of Indian Affairs review. Rasmussen also talked about the ongoing river cleanup, with which the DRCC is deeply involved, and voiced concern about how the new administration in Washington, D.C., will affect the cleanup. It’s half-done, he said, and that’s no time to stop. He is currently most concerned about the Pollutant Loading Assessment in the watershed, which is suddenly looking for help with “modeling” – “the project right now is basically stopped” without that help, he explained, and in need of more funding.
P.S. You can take personal action to help the Duwamish River, two weeks from tomorrow – it’s the spring edition of the Duwamish Alive! planting/cleanup events held concurrently at many spots along the river and in its watershed, 10 am-2 pm April 22nd – go here to find out how to help.
P.P.S. Though he didn’t take a turn at the podium, the “Once and Future River” photographer Tom Reese was at the briefing too:
Rasmussen also contributed an afterword to the book, which is available through UW Press.
(Supporters of landmark status pose in front of the Campbell Building during a “We Love The Junction” event in February)
By Linda Ball
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The Campbell Building on the northeast corner of California and Alaska in the heart of The Junction is now an official city landmark, after a unanimous vote during Wednesday’s Landmarks Preservation Board meeting at Seattle City Hall.
After the board voted in February to nominate the historic building – which currently houses Cupcake Royale and three other storefronts facing SW Alaska Street, along with residential and office space upstairs – for landmark status, this was the last step toward protection for the century-old building. Read More
A month and a half after the city Landmarks Board designated the Hamm Building on the northwest corner of California/Alaska as an official city landmark (WSB coverage here), it will decide this Wednesday (April 5th) whether to do the same for the Campbell Building on the northeast corner, built incrementally in 1911 and 1920, named for West Seattle real-estate entrepreneur and civic booster WT Campbell. The agenda is out for the meeting in the Boards and Commissions Room at City Hall downtown (601 5th Ave.) and the hearing on the Campbell Building is expected to start about an hour into it, around 4:30 pm. If you can’t be there but have a comment about it, you can still e-mail landmarks coordinator Erin Doherty (firstname.lastname@example.org); if you are interested in testifying in support of it, the Southwest Seattle Historical Society suggests contacting SWSHS board vice president and We Love The Junction campaign co-chair Peder Nelson (email@example.com).
BACKSTORY: It’s been 13 months since SWSHS announced its campaign to seek landmark designations for the Campbell and Hamm Buildings, and half a year since the nominations were submitted to the city. You can see the full Campbell Building nomination document – history, photos, and more – by going here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
It was a night 28 years in the making.
From the time the Admiral Theater was shuttered in 1989 – then saved – its future as a moviehouse was never fully guaranteed, until now, with its transformation to a first-run fourplex, celebrated last night. The gala included a ribboncutting with a “ribbon” made of film (across the center of the photo), presided over by Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals (below left), whose involvement dates back to leading the campaign to save it:
Eals proclaimed that everyone there last night was “standing in history.” The ribboncutting was the kickoff to a night in which four movies, from The Admiral’s “Four Eras,” were screened – as detailed here, from silent movies celebrating the building’s early history as The Portola, through a brand-new (and very popular) film.
This happened six months after the restoration work at the circa-1942 moviehouse started in earnest, more than a quarter century after it was designated a city landmark as part of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society campaign to save it. The company that owned it in the late ’80s abruptly decided to close it in 1989, and said the following year that it might not ever be a moviehouse again.
That was proven wrong after local entrepreneur Marc Gartin bought it in 1992. (He owns it to this day.) He was thanked last night by Sol Baron from Faraway Entertainment, which runs the moviehouse business and collaborated on the renovation plan, which was officially announced two years ago:
(WSB photo, February 2015)
The ceremony is over but the “Four Screens, Four Eras” movies are showing one more time each this evening, and you still have time to get to the Admiral Theater (2343 California SW) to enjoy one of them if you’re not there already. We’ll have photos and video from the festivities later, but above – that’s Southwest Seattle Historical Society executive director Clay Eals with one of the theater’s historic mural appliques, subject of an upcoming restoration campaign – if you go to one of the special screenings tonight, you’ll hear about that too.
Next showtimes tonight, from the full preview on the SWSHS website:
ERA ONE, the Portola Theater’s opening in 1919: A slate of classic silent films: Charlie Chaplin’s war parody “Shoulder Arms” (1918), plus three shorts, Harold Lloyd’s “The Marathon” (1919) and Buster Keaton’s “One Week” (1920) and “Cops” (1922). “Shoulder Arms” played the Portola Theater in August 1927. Second showtime 8:40 pm
ERA TWO, the Admiral Theater’s opening on Jan. 22, 1942: The Humphrey Bogart detective story “The Maltese Falcon” (1941), which played the Admiral Theater six weeks after it opened in 1942. Second showtime 8:50 pm
ERA THREE, the Admiral’s twinning in spring 1973: The nostalgic comedy “American Graffiti” (1973), which played the Admiral Theater in August 1974. Second showtime 9 pm
ERA FOUR, the renovation of the Admiral to four screens in fall 2016: The new Disney fantasy “Beauty and the Beast” (2017), which is slated to open at the Admiral on the previous Friday, March 17. Second showtime 9:10 pm
More to come in report #2!
Organizers of the June 3rd celebration of West Seattle High School‘s centennial are sharing new information about how the event will unfold:
100th Year Commemoration of the opening of our School Building!
West Seattle High School Alumni Association along with the SW Seattle Historical Society will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the opening of our school building at the 2017 All-School Reunion on June 3rd, 2017.
This year’s West Seattle High School’s All-School Reunion has a special community photo to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the landmark West Seattle High School building.
2017 Schedule of Events:
4:00 – 4:30 pm Pick up programs, name tag and roam the halls
4:30 – 5:15 pm Individual Class Reunions in assigned rooms.
4:30 – 5:15 pm “92 Years of Westside Pride” video in the Theater
5:15 – 6:15 pm Presentations in the Theater: Hall of Fame induction, Scholar-ships Awarded, Recognition of the 50th Reunion of the Class of 1967
6:15 – 6:30 pm Assemble outside the North Entrance for the Group Hug Photo
6:30 pm Photo shoot – please be prompt
ALL ARE INVITED TO JOIN US FOR THE GROUP HUG PHOTO EVENT:
The photo known as a Group Hug for West Seattle High School will be taken at the conclusion of the annual All-School Reunion that afternoon.
Mark the date, June 3rd, 2017!
For more information, or to volunteer to help, contact Jim Biava, All-School Reunion chair, 206-387-2683, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Clay Eals, executive director, Southwest Seattle Historical Society, 206-484-8008, email@example.com
To see what the “Group Hug” photo shoot will resemble, check out our coverage of other “Group Hugs” orchestrated outside West Seattle landmarks by the SWSHS – the Admiral Theater last June and the Alki Homestead a year before that.
EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s been almost a year since we first reported that the distinctive log-house-turned-office at 5458 California, where WSB sponsor Ventana Construction has long been the tenant, was planned for demolition and rebuilding. Commenters wondered if the house could be moved rather than demolished. Then in December, we published the announcement by Jeff McCord from house-moving firm Nickel Bros that the property’s owners had given approval to look for someone to buy it for moving to another site. And someone did! Clay Eals from the Southwest Seattle Historical Society found the new owners before we did, and tells the story:
By Clay Eals
Special to West Seattle Blog
To house mover Jeff McCord, it’s “a creative way to slow the loss of neighborhood character.”
To Seattle University urban-planning professor Marie Wong, it’s an illustration of “our responsibility to historicism.”
And to Admiral couple Neil and Holly Bauersfeld, it’s “a little crazy … but we hope it will be really cool.”
What they’re all talking about is the saving of a beloved log building that was headed for the wrecking ball this summer to make way for a six-unit live/work complex.
With its prominent porch and stone chimney, the log building has stood gracefully for 109 years at 5458 California Avenue SW, on the northeast corner of California’s intersection with SW Findlay Street, midway between the Alaska and Morgan junctions. (The longtime tenant is Ventana Construction, whose lease ends in July.)
Last fall, McCord, a West Seattleite and “house rescuer” for the Washington and British Columbia-based Nickel Bros house-moving firm, received permission from the owner of the property to advertise the opportunity for someone to acquire the historic structure and move it prior to its scheduled demolition.
The opportunity quickly caught the eye of the Bauersfelds, who live near West Seattle High School.
You never know what you’re going to find when you dig in!
The photos are from Anne Higuera at Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor), who says, “While finishing up the last piece of our large expansion project at West Seattle Nursery (replacing the sidewalk and removing paving from the planting strip in front of both businesses), one of our employees found (this) in the dirt. … The street there has a brick base, so there are many layers of history in that street. The back, with the trees, says “good for one fare” and the front says “Seattle Transit” and the name of the director — looks like Beckett — along the bottom.” The token is smaller and thinner than a penny, she noted:
(Here’s a look at a cleaned-up version of a similar token.) At first they thought it was a token from the trolley days. Online research revealed that Seattle Transit was what the bus system was once known as. Evro M. Becket – who died in 1960 – was on the Seattle Transportation Commission in the ’40s, so the token likely dates back about 70 years. You can find out more about the Seattle Transit System via its annual reports, some of which are available as PDFs through the Municipal Archives. (1940, for example, is hailed as “a year of almost complete changeover from rail to rubber” – as the streetcar system was dismantled. The report features many photos, of buses, streetcars, and examples of streets where the tracks were paved over. And it includes the dates when streetcar runs changed to buses – you’ll see some West Seattle runs listed on page 13. Relevant to the token discovery, page 21 mentions the average Seattle Transit fare was six cents in 1940. The last page, 34, shows the city’s route map.)
(As of 8:22 am Thursday, story now contains full details from both hearings)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Hamm Building – built in 1926, currently anchored by Easy Street Records – was designated a city landmark by a unanimous vote of the Landmarks Preservation Board tonight at City Hall.
And its across-California neighbor, the Campbell Building – built in two phases a century ago and currently anchored by Cupcake Royale – is halfway on the road there, with the board voting unanimously tonight to approve its landmark nomination. Next step: An April 5th hearing on finalizing landmark status
We were at City Hall for both votes, five months after the Southwest Seattle Historical Society formally proposed landmark status for the buildings; details to be added to this report later tonight.
ADDED 11:11 PM AND 8:22 AM: Details, as promised, starting with the Hamm Building hearing (then Campbell): Read More
This morning, internment-camp survivor and military veteran Atsushi Kiuchi spoke at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), as part of the school’s annual Day of Remembrance event. Next Sunday, February 19th, marks 75 years since President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which sent 120,000 people to internment camps. Kiuchi is 87 years old and was in a camp from age 12 through 15. But he had many other memories to share today:
You can also reflect on this chapter of U.S. history through an exhibit in the campus library, “Fred T. Korematsu and the Pursuit of Justice.” Photos, documents, and quotes comprise the exhibit, telling the Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient’s “story of challenging the WWII exclusion and confinement order,” as described in the SSC announcement. It will be on display through March 3rd. The exhibit was created by Seattle University for the launch of its Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, which filed an amicus brief in our state’s challenge to the Trump Administration’s immigration ban.
P.S. The next Words, Writers, West Seattle presentation by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Barnes & Noble/Westwood will also spotlight Mr. Korematsu, as Lorraine Bannai speaks at B&N 5-7 pm March 3rd about her book “Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and His Quest for Justice.”
Advance calendar note for next Sunday – the Southwest Seattle Historical Society has invited us to be featured in the monthly series they co-sponsor with the Seattle Public Library, SouthWest Stories. SWSHS executive director Clay Eals will host a conversation with your WSB co-publishers Tracy Record and Patrick Sand in honor of WSB’s 10th year reporting news 24/7 news for West Seattle. (We started turning toward news with the December 2006 windstorm and then officially became a business in fall 2007.) We’ll see you at the newly upgraded High Point Library (35th SW/SW Raymond), 2 pm on February 19th. As always with SouthWest Stories, admission is free and seating is first-come first-served.
What you see above is a collage of the 70 “Be My Junction Valentine” photos taken by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society‘s “We Love the Junction” task force last Sunday in front of the Campbell Building at California/Alaska. As we showed you here on WSB that morning, people turned out despite the rain; final tally for those photos was 149 people and 13 dogs. If you were among them, SWSHS has sent you this link (where anyone can go to see the photos one by one, whether they participated or not). And the SWSHS has this reminder about what’s happening the day after Valentine’s Day:
Also in the e-mail to the photo subjects was an indication of the timing of the two Junction-related hearings scheduled during the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board meeting on Wednesday, February 15, at City Hall.
According to the meeting agenda, the landmark designation hearing for the Hamm Building (main tenant Easy Street Records) will start about 4:10 p.m. and last 45 minutes. The agenda also says the landmark nomination hearing for the Campbell Building (main tenant Cupcake Royale) will start about 4:55 p.m. and last 60 minutes.
The task force is encouraging people to attend the hearings. The task force will ask all supporters in the room to stand to show their support for Hamm and Campbell landmarking. Those wishing to speak at either hearing will be limited to one minute each.
The task force also asks that people e-mail messages of support to Erin Doherty, city landmarks coordinator, at this address by Sunday, February 12, to allow for the messages to go to board members in time to read them before the hearings.
More information on the Junction landmark campaign can be found here.
City Hall is at 400 5th Avenue. The meeting will be in the Boards and Commissions Room on its 2R level, which you can reach via elevator from the main and lower lobbies. And if you’d like to review the nomination documents for the two proposed landmarks – which are full of information and historic photos – the Campbell Building is here, the Hamm building here.
Next Wednesday, February 15th, South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) plans an event in honor of the Day of Remembrance, with speakers including an internment-camp survivor. Here are the details from SSC:
This year’s Day of Remembrance marks the 75th anniversary of President Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the evacuation and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans to internment camps throughout the west coast.
South Seattle College will have two speakers on February 15 and an exhibit running until March 3 to commemorate the injustices and hardships during this time, and discuss how it relates to our society today.
Speakers Wednesday, Feb. 15 in the Olympic Hall Theater (OLY)
10 am – 11 am: Atsushi Kiuchi
Atsushi Kiuchi is an internment camp survivor. He will discuss events before, during and after Feb. 19, 1942, when Executive Order 9066 was signed. Kiuchi will also discuss the military exploits of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought in World War II, and connect current events with his past experiences.
11 am – 12 pm: Professors Gail Nomura and Steve Sumida
Professor Gail Nomura and her husband Professor Steve Sumida are Japanese American. They recently retired as professors from the University of Washington in the American Ethnic Studies department with a focus on the Asian American experience. They will discuss the Japanese American experience during the time period surrounding Executive Order 9066.
Through March 3: Fred T. Korematsu and the Pursuit of Justice Exhibit in the Campus Library (LIB):
President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to Fred Korematsu in 1998, saying, “In the long history of our country’s constant search for justice, some names of ordinary citizens stand for millions of souls.”
Through photographs, archival documents and quotes, the Fred T. Korematsu and the Pursuit of Justice Exhibit tells Mr. Korematsu’s story of challenging the WW II exclusion and confinement order.
Korematsu worked as a shipyard welder after graduating from high school until he lost his job after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He was 22 when the U.S. plunged into war. On May 9, 1942, his parents and three brothers reported to the Tanforan Assembly Center, but Korematsu stayed behind with his Italian-American girlfriend. His refusal to comply with the evacuation order led to his arrest on May 30, 1942. His fight against the mass removal of Japanese Americans resulted in a landmark Supreme Court case concerning wartime civil liberties.
In 2011, California held its first Fred Korematsu Day, the first day in the U.S. to be named after an Asian American, commemorating his lifetime of service defending the constitutional rights of Americans.
The exhibit was created by the Seattle University Law Library for the launch of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law.
SSC is at 6000 16th SW on Puget Ridge; here’s the campus map, if you need help finding the buildings mentioned above.
You can get a fun, free Valentine photo – like the one above – this Sunday, courtesy of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society. With the Campbell Building’s landmark nomination getting its first hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Board this month, SWSHS’s “We Love The Junction” campaign is using it as a backdrop for photos this Sunday during the West Seattle Farmers’ Market. Here’s the official announcement:
The “We Love The Junction” Task Force of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society has a fun and unique way for you to obtain a free digital valentine with your sweetie and show your love for the Junction at the same time.
It’s called “Be My Junction Valentine.” Here’s how it will work:
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday, February 5, 2017, the task force will be at West Seattle Farmers Market taking FREE valentine photos at the northeast corner of the Junction in front of the Campbell Building, 4554 California Ave. SW. (main tenant: Cupcake Royale).
You – with a companion, with your family or even by yourself – will be able to pose for a valentine photo while holding a sign with the “We Love The Junction” logo.
The photo will be digitally placed into a heart-shaped template and e-mailed to you in time for you to circulate it – and post it on social media – on Valentine’s Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14, as your 2017 valentine greeting. The “We Love The Junction” Task Force also will post the photos on Facebook.
The first 25 people to have their “Be My Junction Valentine” photos taken will receive a free Cupcake Royale “Babycakes” cupcake – one cupcake per photo.
Those getting their “Be My Junction Valentine” photos taken also will come away with a flier describing how they can write to the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board about their support for landmark status for the Campbell Building and Hamm Building.
The flier also will include logistical information on showing support by attending the Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, meeting of the landmarks board at City Hall downtown.
The landmarks board’s Feb. 15 meeting starts at 3:30 p.m., but hearings on designation of the Hamm Building (built in 1926) and nomination of the Campbell Building (built in 1911/1920) likely will take place later in the afternoon and early evening. More precise times for the hearings will be known when the agenda is released the week prior to the meeting.
Something else you can do today – or any Thursday/ Friday/ Saturday/ Sunday afternoon, when the Log House Museum is open – go check out its ongoing project “Telling Our Westside Stories” exhibits. A reception at the museum last night celebrated both the culmination of the project and the involvement of both youth and elders in interviews done as part of it. In our photo above are Lola Demurger and Zoe Harper, 16-year-old West Seattle High School sophomores who were Madison Middle School students when they were part of the project. They’re talking with Seaview resident Detlev Kroll of West Seattle’s Kroll family, as in Kroll Map Company. Questions during their interview demonstration last night were largely about what had changed since he was their age. He recalled the Admiral Theater‘s single-screen days, and shops that used to be in the Morgan Junction area, including the old butcher shop at the corner of California/Graham (it was in this building demolished back in 2008).
Before the demonstration interview, the project was explained last night by former Southwest Seattle Historical Society president Judy Bentley and Madison MS teacher Amy O’Donoghue, whose language arts/history students were part of the project. You’ll hear from them, followed by the demonstration interview, in this video from last night, recorded by SWSHS executive director Clay Eals:
Curator Lissa Kramer emceed the reception. “Telling Our Westside Stories” includes exhibits themed “Land” (2012), “Work” (2014), and “Home” (2016).
The program was funded in part by 4Culture. Regular hours at the Log House Museum are noon-4 pm Thursdays-Sundays.
(2009 WSB photo)
Family, friends, and neighbors are mourning Earl Cruzen, 96, someone who worked long and hard – and well into his golden years – to make West Seattle a better place. A memorial is planned next month. Here’s a remembrance sent by Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
The father of the famed Murals of West Seattle has died.
Earl Cruzen, a lifelong resident and longtime business leader in West Seattle, died Jan. 23, 2017, at his Duwamish Head condominium overlooking Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. He was 96.
Earl was perhaps best known for conceiving and executing the art/history project called the Murals of West Seattle, centered in the West Seattle Junction.
On vacation trips with his wife, Virginia, and friends Moe and Bonnie Beerman, Earl encountered historical murals in Long Beach and Ilwaco, Washington, and Chemainus, B.C., and saw their potential for drawing tourists and bolstering local business.
Earl launched the Murals of West Seattle project in 1988, and over the next five summers 11 murals by world-renowned artists sprouted on the walls of business buildings in and around the Junction. The murals, depicting scenes from West Seattle history, were funded by local building owners and matching city and county grants. Nine of the murals remain to this day, with a 10th repainted in a new location.
An offshoot, affectionately called the “12th mural” in reference to its original intent, was Phillip Levine’s “Walking on Logs” sculpture. Depicting children balancing atop driftwood, it is part of the West Seattle Gateway along the Fauntleroy Expressway and was dedicated in 1996. Earl led not only its development but also the hands-on maintenance of its hillside grounds for 12 years.
Several awards recognizing the Murals of West Seattle came Earl’s way, including, most recently, the 2014 Orville Rummel Trophy for Outstanding Service to the Community. He typically credited his mentors and partners and promoted the value of service to others.
“It’s not what you are getting out of life,” he said when then-Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proclaimed Sept. 13, 2008, as Earl Cruzen Day, “but what you are giving to the life in your community.”
The mural project capped a full life. He was born Earl Robert Cruzen on Sept. 9, 1920, and raised in what was called the Dumar area of the Highland Park neighborhood in the southeastern corner of West Seattle.
A 1939 graduate of West Seattle High School, where he was a newspaper columnist and editor of the annual, Earl attended the University of Washington for a year before joining the World War II effort by working at Boeing, testing airplanes before they were delivered to the Army Air Corps. Later during the war, he joined the Merchant Marines.
Earl started and grew his auto-parts distribution business, Cruzen Distributing Inc., near the Georgetown neighborhood, over the next four decades. He also served as chair of the Junction Development Committee, an umbrella group of the Junction Merchants Association, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and West Seattle Trusteed Properties.
After his retirement, Earl continued his community involvement for 20 years with a variety of organizations. He volunteered at S.C.O.R.E. as a financial counselor. Underscoring his passion to help students pursue further education, he served on the foundation board for South Seattle Community College, establishing endowed scholarships for automotive students and in the name of the West Seattle High School class of 1939.
His involvement extended to the Rotary Club (downtown and West Seattle), Fauntleroy Church, West Seattle and Fauntleroy YMCA, Horizon House, Southwest District Council, the People to People International program for educational travel and the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, for which he was an Advisory Council member.
Earl was married to his first wife, Virginia, from July 21, 1943, until her death on May 2, 1998. Earl married Adah Rhodes on his 80th birthday on Sept. 9, 2000, and they enjoyed the Alki waterfront for his next 16-1/2 years.
Besides Adah, he also is survived by a daughter, Carla Friehe (Berend); grandchildren Katharina Rainis (Michael), Derek Friehe (Amber), Phillip Friehe (Justine), and Stephanie Cumaravel (Collin); great grandchildren Sebastian Friehe, Emma Friehe, Caleb Rainis, and Ethan Rainis; Adah’s stepdaughter Sally Crouch and Sally’s sons Garth Crouch (Nickie) and Scott Crouch (Yana).
Cruzen was preceded in death by his parents, Wesley and Ora Mae Cruzen, and sisters Bernice Tonkin and Vivian Floyd.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, at Fauntleroy Church, 9140 California Ave. SW. Arrangements are by Evergreen Washelli. Remembrances in lieu of flowers may go to South Seattle College, the Rotary Club of West Seattle, the West Seattle and Fauntleroy YMCAs, or the Mural Restoration and Maintenance Fund of the West Seattle Junction Association.
Earl would summon a phrase from Joshua Green and say about the Murals of West Seattle, “When these you see, remember me.”
(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to firstname.lastname@example.org)
The February 15th meeting of the city Landmark Preservation Board has now become, in part, a West Seattle doubleheader, now that the 1918-built Campbell Building has been added to the agenda. From Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:
The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board hearing and vote on our nomination of the Campbell Building for landmark status has been scheduled for the board’s meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seattle City Hall.
This is the same meeting that the board has scheduled its hearing and vote on designation of the Hamm Building for landmark status. (The board voted unanimously in favor of our landmark nomination for Hamm at its meeting Jan. 4, 2017.)
At the Feb. 15 meeting, the Hamm designation hearing and vote likely will take place prior to the Campbell nomination hearing and vote.
In anticipation of the Feb. 15 meeting, we encourage supporters of landmarking the Hamm and Campbell buildings to take one or both of the following steps:
(1) Write messages or letters in support of Hamm designation and Campbell nomination to the board via e-mail to Erin Doherty, historic preservation coordinator for the board, or via a letter mailed to the board at PO Box 94649, Seattle, WA 98124-4649.
(2) Plan to attend the Hamm and Campbell hearings, which likely will begin in the late afternoon and could extend to early evening. About a week prior to the meeting, when the complete agenda is released, we will announce more specific times for each hearing as well as a plan to help guide people to the meeting from the West Seattle Junction transit center.
SWSHS officially submitted the landmark nominations last September. You can see the nomination documents for both buildings – which contain detailed background and historical photos, among other things – on the city website. The Campbell Building nomination is here; the Hamm Building nomination is here. (And here’s our coverage of the meeting at which the board advanced its nomination to be considered for landmark status.)
To see which West Seattle sites are already landmarks (and others around the city), check out this map.
Even if you don’t live in a house, you might be interested in tomorrow’s SouthWest Stories presentation with King County archivist Greg Lange (whose video invitation is above) – “Welcome Home: Searching for the Secret Lives of Houses.” Maybe there’s a house or other building that you walk, ride, or drive by, and often wonder about. Some information is available online, but not all, so Lange will explain where to look and what you might find. Just be at Southwest Library (35th SW/SW Henderson) at 2 pm Sunday – it’s free, seating is first-come, first-served, in the upstairs meeting room. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Seattle Public Library are co-sponsors of the series.
P.S. Details aren’t final yet but your WSB co-publishers have been invited to be next month’s “SouthWest Stories” guests (February 19th), since this is WSB’s 10th-anniversary year – stand by for more on that.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A hearing February 15th is the next major step in determining whether the 91-year-old Hamm Building in the heart of The Junction gets city-landmark status.
The proposal to confer that status reached one milestone this past week, after an hour-and-a-half city Landmarks Preservation Board hearing that included both a strong show of community support and a declaration from a member of the family that owns the building saying the nomination “blindsided” them. The Southwest Seattle Historical Society, leading the campaign for landmark status for this building and the Campbell Building across the street, explained the notification process afterward, saying it had been talking with the family’s lawyer for months.
We reported briefly on Wednesday’s hearing shortly after its conclusion. Ahead in this report are details of how the hearing unfolded, and what happens next: Read More
Quick update from the city Landmark Preservation Board meeting downtown: Minutes ago, the board gave its approval to the first stage of the process that could result in city-landmark designation for the Hamm Building on the northwest corner of California/Alaska in The Junction.
Their unanimous approval tonight means they support the nomination of the 1926 building – next step, they will consider whether to designate it a landmark. Full report on the meeting tomorrow, including not only the show of community support but also a member of the family that has long owned the building telling the board that the nomination “blindsided” them. No date yet for the next hearing.
And now, in the final minutes of 2016, the one lookback we publish every year … the 10 most-commented-on WSB stories of the year. Like last year, this year it’s a Top 11 list because of a tie along the way:
#10 – LINCOLN PARK GEESE RELOCATED TO VASHON
September 9th – 122 comments
#9 – ILLEGAL TREE-CUTTING FOLLOWUP
March 30th – 123 comments
#8 – THE CITY’S HALA-AND-MORE OPEN HOUSE
December 7th – 128 comments
#7 – POLICE RELEASE DASH-CAM VIDEO FROM PURSUIT THAT PRECEDED DEADLY CRASH
April 7th – 136 comments
#6 (tie) – LAWSUITS FILED IN ILLEGAL TREE-CUTTING
September 20th – 145 comments
#6 (tie) – ‘RV SAFE LOT’ PLANNED AT EX-ENCAMPMENT SITE
January 19th – 145 comments
#5 – OUTRAGE OVER ILLEGAL TREE-CUTTING
March 26th – 152 comments
#4 – WSB’S FIRST TECHNICAL OVERHAUL IN 10 YEARS
January 15th – 154 comments
#3 – CITY COUNCIL’S PROPOSED ENCAMPMENT RULES FOR PUBLIC PROPERTY
October 7th – 214 comments
#2 – WSHS STUDENTS’ POST-ELECTION WALKOUT
November 9th – 216 comments
#1 – TREE-CUTTING INVESTIGATION FOLLOWUP
March 28th – 269 comments