“We’re still locked up”

Portrait of George Wellington Stoddard by Ernst Kassowitz
Portrait of George Wellington Stoddard by Ernst Kassowitz

Some of the most interesting scrapbooks to surface during the (still ongoing) scrapbook project document the work of notable Pacific Northwest architects and architectural firms.  The George Wellington Stoddard scrapbooks initially were not high on my to-do list for receiving the “full cataloging” treatment since the brief record generated in the early stages of the project appeared to describe the set adequately.  Recently, however, those volumes got bumped up in priority when a box of loose clippings was returned to me, after having been used in the reading room, for a better degree of arrangement and description.

It turns out that Stoddard enjoyed a lengthy and varied career (from the early 1920s to 1960) in the Seattle area, starting out as a specialist in residential design.  Early on he appears to have developed a lucrative relationship with the Puget Mill Company and worked on several of their projects, including the exclusive Broadmoor development.  Following World War II, Stoddard’s firm received several high profile commissions in both the private and public sectors, such as the National Bank of Commerce and the Green Lake Aqua Theatre.  The single item amid the mass of disorganized clippings that really caught my eye, however, was a gloriously pristine program for the dedication ceremony of the then new King County Youth Service Center.

Front cover of King County Youth Service Center dedication ceremony program
Front cover of King County Youth Service Center dedication ceremony program

The pamphlet primarily piqued my curiosity because I used to work nearby (at one point “juvie” was one of the few places in the neighborhood within walking distance to buy a coffee) and also because I had just come across an article in the current issue of the Stranger on a youth poetry workshop held at the Juvenile Detention Center.  The writer starts off by setting the scene, making the inevitable contrast between the “bland, sprawling building,” which he likens to a “postapocalyptic high school” and the uplifting, humanistic program he observed inside its walls.  Not surprisingly, among the several comments sent in response to the online version of the article, no one wrote in to defend the architecture.  Nor will I jump into the fray.  It is not really a piece of architecture which inspires much affection, but, after having had the opportunity to examine the program and skim a few of the clippings from contemporary publications (especially the more unusual ones from construction trade journals), the building, which won high praise in its day, appears in a very different light.

Don’t believe me?  Stop by some day and examine the collection for yourself.  The four scrapbook volumes and one box which contains clippings and other materials (currently in a much more neatly organized condition —  which we intend to maintain) are available now for your research pleasure.

Image credits:

1. Order No. MPH503, Ernst Kassowitz Collection. PH Collection 215.

2. Scan of front cover of 1952 program, George Wellington Stoddard scrapbooks, NA737.S656 S76 1931.

Advertisements

Published by

Helice

Although I am a native New Yorker, I seem drawn to the Pacific Northwest. My current gig as Manuscripts & Special Collections Cataloging Librarian at the University of Washington Libraries represents my third stint out here. Prior to coming to the UW, I have worked at the New York Public Library, King County Archives, New York University, and Columbia University (to name but a few).

2 thoughts on ““We’re still locked up””

  1. I live in a George Wellington Stoddard in Sheridan Heights. Apparently it was designed as one of the first 5 “show houses” for the new neighborhood. I have been told that Stoddard lived in it for several years

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sherri! You’re welcome to come in and view the scrapbooks, if you’re interested. If I remember correctly, there may have been some information about Stoddard’s own residence in one of them.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s