I recently came across this fine cartoon in a short lived magazine. Started in 1907 and published by the AYP Publishing Co, The Seattle Spirit Magazine: A Seattle Publication for Seattle People was created to promote Seattle and the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. It was filled with bad poetry, songs, and jokes; photographs of the city; and articles detailing the city’s many assets.
The image above refers to Seattle’s early growth, particularly the city’s aggressive acquisition/annexation of its surrounding towns, including Ravenna, Ballard, and Columbia City. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that what we now consider to be neighborhoods started life as towns often developed by an ambitious individual or two. Not all of the towns—Ballard exemplifies this trend—wanted to be annexed but there was little they could do as Seattle grew and prospered.
Late last year, I wrote a short post about the death of Curt Brownfield and the house where he lived on Denny Hill. I called it the Last House Standing because it was the final home to survive the regrades of Denny. Recently I came across a wonderful painting of the house and wanted to share it, along with another shot of the Brownfield home.
The artist was J. Edwin Burnley, who painted it around 1937. I learned of the drawing from A Fluid Tradition: Northwest Watercolor Society…the first 75 Years by David Martin. Burnley was born in Victoria in 1886 and arrived in Seattle a decade later. He later studied at art schools in Canada and was a president of the Northwest Watercolor Society and co-founder, with his wife, of the Burnley School of Art and Design, which later morphed into the Art Institute of Seattle. “Burnley devoted his professional career to teaching and arts advocacy,” writes Martin.
Little is known about the specifics of the painting, such as when exactly he painted it and what attracted Burnley to the house. The painting, which measures 14 x 18 inches and is in a private collection, though is an accurate portrayal of the Brownfield house.
Below are two other images of the house, both provided to me by Curt Brownfield. He told me that he had to carry firewood up the ramp, “usually by throwing pieces up the hill and throwing or carrying the rest of the way up the steps.”