Sunday, October 28, 2007

Blurry Photos of Georgetown Haunted Tour (Plus One Boring Rant)

My little Halloween posse at Calamity Jane's before the Georgetown Haunted Tour, presented by the Friends of Georgetown History. (Even though I go to Calamity Jane's all the time -- for example, three out of the last four nights -- I finally noticed the back area with the sofa and coffee table. Maybe I'll sit back there next time the front bar tables are taken.)


Folks getting ready to go on the tour outside Coliman Restaurant, originally called the Oxbow Inn.


According to the Georgetown Haunted History Tour 2007 guidebook, a ghost took up residence here in the 1940s, when it was known as the Newcastle Restaurant.

At closing time one night, a man attempted to rob the bartenders. The owner summoned the police, who were able to trap him in the northwest corner of the bar. After a short scuffle, the police shot and killed the robber. To this day, no one sits in that corner.


I know the following photo is ridiculously blurry, but I have to include it here because I took it right before I screamed in terror.

This house was totally done up with gravestones and crawling rats and corpses and pumpkins, and I decided I had to get photos of all these scary figures on the porch. I approached really slowly, afraid of setting off one of the motion sensors in one of the creepy toys. I finally got all the way to the top of the porch, totally transfixed by that corpse sitting up in its coffin and a crawling half-zombie (on the floor, out of frame), when the figure in black (who turned out to be an actual person, of course) started moving and talking.

Yes, I really did scream. Everyone laughed at me. With me, I mean.


Here's the group outside the old Georgetown Steam Plant.


From the guidebook:

Unusual or unexplainable activity thought to be caused by a poltergeist has been reported. On several occasions, pallets loaded with tools have unexplainably begun to move, clatter, and band around.

And here we are in front of the old Country Inn Roadhouse.


The Country Inn is the only remaining roadhouse in Georgetown, its gaming hall having been converted to a grocery in 1911. Ghost hunters gave identified several spirits residing in this building, inlcuding a Mediterranean-looking man in a white apron who haunts the storefront, and a prostitute who leans out of a second-story window.

I did not get any decent photos of the Georgetown Castle -- sorry! But here's the old Georgetown Funeral Home.


The bodies of many of Georgetown's residents spent their last days here before being transported to the Comet Lodge Cemetery. Rumor has it that neighbors can still hear the eerie "clip-clop" of horses' hooves pulling a funeral cart up the hill.

A freaky little black cat joined our group at one point in the evening and followed us all the way to the tour's end. She darted around, scurrying up and down trees, sometimes letting people pet her and sometimes not.



The tour ended at the old Rainier Brewery, where we heard a presentation about the spooky old Comet Lodge Cemetery up here on Beacon (formerly Mapel) Hill. (You can see more photos of the cemetery here. I think I'll go back there with my new camera soon.)


Here's a photo of a funeral here in the early 1900s. Behind the mourners, you can see all the gravestones of the children's section of the cemetery. That area was bulldozed in the 1980s to make way for 11 new homes.


In one home parents claim to have seen the spirit of a youngster playing with their children's toys. Another family told of a boy dressed in clothing from the early 1900s who regularly appeared in the bedroom of one of their young daughters.

This cemetery is just a few blocks from my house, and the area creeps me out. Not because of the graves, though. The remaining gravestones are all jumbled together in a disarray of clusters, but they're still beautiful, and the site itself seems peaceful. A few Halloweens ago, I was dared to go down into the cemetery at night by myself and touch one of the gravestones. Even though I spook easily (screaming in fright at people in costume and all), I had no problem with that challenge.

But I think that area of Graham Street is terrible. Just last month, my neighbor -- a school bus driver, a Hurricane Katrina victim, and the father of a 4-year-old -- was shot and killed right across from the cemetery. One night he heard noise coming from a car in his front yard, and when he went out to go investigate, one of the occupants shot and killed him.

I figured the South Precinct -- which is just a 3-minute, 0.94-mile drive away -- must have been buzzing about this terrible unsolved crime. So when the South Precinct community liaison, whose job is to relay information between the police and neighborhood groups about local crime, came to our block watch meeting a couple weeks later, I figured we'd find out what the hell happened that night. But instead, he told us he hadn't even heard about it. Even now, a month and a half later, I think the Seattle P-I was the only local media outlet to really acknowledge this man's life.

Sometimes I feel that South Seattle is like Cowslip's rabbit warren in that book Watership Down. Sure, we were able to buy nice houses for much less money than in northern parts of the city, some of us have 10,000-square-foot-lots (just minutes from downtown!), and we get to enjoy the lovely, affordable restaurants in Georgetown and Columbia City. But every once in a while, one of us gets picked off, and we're all supposed to act like it's no big deal. From the Wikipedia entry on Cowslip:

Once, the warren was a wild one, but ... [the] farmer nearby ... decided to rear the remaining rabbits; he shot all possible predators and laid food out for the rabbits, even in winter. In these conditions, all the rabbits were able to live prosperous, lazy lives, despite the fact that the occasional rabbit went missing (through the farmer's snares). They practice un-rabbitlike customs (dancing in greeting; morbid songs; laughing), and pretend that everything is perfectly all right in their warren. Any and all who question the status quo is silenced, because to do so would be to face the brutal reality of their situation.

Anyway, the Comet Lodge area is also a dumping ground for furniture and trash. Graffiti is rampant--people let whole walls of their homes fill up with tags and never paint it out. Right now there's an abandoned (?) van collecting leaves at the side of the cemetery. The sidewalk that runs down the hill on Graham is always full of weeds and trash, and it passes one of the largest blackberry weed fields in urban Seattle.

But that's Mid Beacon Hill. Let's get back to the blurry pictures of Georgetown.

Theater Off Jackson and Circus Contraption put on a beautiful performance in the old Brew House. The actors told an old Georgetown story of love gone wrong, of drinking, and of death.


A spooky little group played gorgeous carnival music upstairs.


And a couple of blacklit skeleton dancers contorted and cavorted for a highly appreciative crowd.




(You can see much clearer photos that I took of the Brew House here.)

Holly did not dress up, but she did tend bar.


Amie offered candy cigarettes to anyone willing to do a performance for her. This guy danced a jig.


And across the street, Nosferatu terrorized Carpathian villagers all night long.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Hangar Cafe to Reopen on Nov. 5

According to signs on the restaurant and comments in posts here, the Hangar Cafe will be reopening on Monday, Nov. 5, with crepes and additional seating.

I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sabey's First Round of Conceptual Drawings

I'm not sure what to think about all this yet. My general reaction is negative because the drawings all make the new building look like, well, an office building. But maybe that can't be helped because it IS an office building.

I guess the reason I'm disappointed is because I was hoping for something visionary. I'm sure that thoughtfully chosen materials could elevate this project, but I still can't help but feel that these initial designs are pretty pedestrian.

Anyway, here are the there photos. (They're not really considering Scheme F.)







I think everyone was stunned to finally be staring at the prospect of an office building across from Jules Maes. No one's ready for it. The comments were mostly negative, though also mostly resigned:

"It looks like the Best Buy in Northgate."

"It's an insult to the neighborhood."

"This is the start of the end."

Many of the ideas I wrote up for the building back in September were acknowledged in some way. For instance, the architect riffed on my Corten steel idea, though he said they couldn't use that actual material as siding because it would rust away. Instead, he offered up the idea of using Corten-style bronze ceramic siding from the Spanish tile manufacturer Tau Ceramica. (How did I know it was from Tau Ceramica? Because I happened to tile my bathroom with that exact same material, which I'm absolutely crazy about in indoor applications.)


And they mentioned my green roof idea after someone else in the audience brought up the idea. A green roof, with public access to those amazing views -- yeah, that would be great. I think the community would need to push for it, though, because I bet the set-up costs, logistical challenges, etc., would be a pain in the ass.

Several people said they'd like the new building to be brick, or partially brick, and that everyone else had been saying that they'd like the building to be brick as well. Jim Harmon from Sabey explained that the feedback they'd received thus far suggested the opposite -- that people did NOT want the building to be brick. Someone in the audience said something to the effect of "WHO said they didn't want the building to be brick?" Though I was a little scared someone in the audience might hit me in the head with a brick, I admitted that I thought that putting up new brick right next to all that gorgeous old brick wouldn't look very good. My intuition says that the contrast should be greater. But then again, what the hell do I know?

Beside, this isn't really my cause. I'm not a resident or employee or employer in Georgetown -- I'm just a fan. The opinions of those who spend their days and nights there are worth more than mine. They've already thought about it more than I have, and they're the ones who are going to be looking at the new building all the time.

Can someone with good design sense and love and respect for the area please enter the general discussion? The time is now. Send your comments to Sabey, post them here, come to the meetings, whatever. They may not act on all these ideas in the end, but I do believe that Sabey is at least listening.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beacon Hill Appreciation Walk on Sunday

If the Seattle Drum School and Culinary Communion open houses aren't enough excitement for you tomorrow, join up with some neighbors taking a Beacon Hill appreciation walk.

From Beacon Lights blogger and neighborhood activist Craig Thompson:

Just to remind people about the walk this Sunday.

Idea is to take a group, neighborly, community walk and see all the good work so many people have been doing on Beacon Hill.

First up, this Sunday, meet at Java Love at 11 AM. This route will go down Bayview Stairs, down Beacon Ave. to the Holgate Bridge, north through the woods to Dr. Jose Rizal Park, through the off-leash area, over by Lewis Park, up Golf/15th to Beacon Bluff P-Patch & Community Garden, then down to 16th to admire the stairwell work on Holgate, Walker, and Plum.

Then back to the business district. Should take about 1.5 - 2 hrs at most.

Next time around will be east/central Beacon Hill (Hanford Stairs, Cheasty walking path, Jefferson Park).

We've all been so busy accomplishing so much for the common good, let's take a moment to see it and appreciate what so many have accomplished.

More Photos of Rainier Cold Storage Brew House

You've seen many of these shots before, but I have a better camera now. Thanks to Jim Harmon of Sabey for letting me in this morning to take these photos. And a belated thanks to whoever decided to paint the walls a greenish blue. That color is a great background for all the rusty iron.

These photos are all of the Brew House portion of the complex. The Brew House is just north of the Stock House, which is the section that Sabey plans to demolish and redevelop. Sabey will unveil their plans for the site at a public meeting this coming Wednesday, October 24, at 5:30 p.m. at the Bottling Plant (right across from Calamity Jane's on Airport Way). Please come and comment or just listen.

Also, if you'd like to see this place for yourself, you have an opportunity next Saturday, October 27. Either attend the Georgetown Haunted History Tour (this will be the last stop of the tour), or just come to the Brew House for a Halloween event by the Theater Off Jackson and Circus Contraption. Five bucks gets you into the tour and the Brew House event, or you can pay five bucks for just the Brew House thing. Wear a costume and bring ID if you want beer. And say hi if you're feeling friendly (look for the super-tall, dark-haired Viking).