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History in pictures of E James Court

The Seattle Parks Department has extended the deadline for suggestions for names for the future pocket park at 12th Avenue and E James Court.

I did a little historic research to see what used to be on the site. City records are a little hard to track down before the mid 1930s but from old city atlases, it looks like the area around E James Court was platted but didn’t have any homes on it. A couple single family homes surrounded the area.

1908 Baist Atlas showing James Court Park site in red

The subdivision is Squire’s WC Replat which is likely referencing original plats by Watson C. Squire from around 1890. There’s some interesting history on Squire here at the University of Washington archive information page.  He served in the Civil War in New York and Ohio, worked at E Remington Company which sold firearms, moved to Washington in 1879 and later became governor of the Washington Territory in 1884.

This neighborhood is still known as Squire Park so having an actual park called Squire Park might be a little duplicative and confusing.

More history of the area can be found from 1937-38 when King County did a survey and photographed every structure in the county.  This was part of a huge project to re-assess all properties for tax purposes since many were incorrectly assessed.  King County is apparently the only place this happened in the country and left us with a fantastic historic resource of pictures and other data. I found photos of the homes near the park site, which are below. Most were built around 1918 and are still on the street today.

Gas station at park site in 1938

In 1938, a gas station was on the actual park site, with the sign showing “Mohawk” and “Luboil Refining Co, Inc.”
City directories show that it was later Olympic Tires and McKale’s Inc Tires in the 1940s and then Commercial Company (perhaps general contractors) in the 50s and 60s. By the 70s there was a small building on the site occupied by the US Veteran’s Administration.

I’m wondering if there is significance in the name Mohawk?  It is here on the Luboil Refining Co sign from the 30s.  The apartment building at the corner of 13th and E Jefferson is also called the Mohawk Apartments.  Any ideas on why?  I haven’t been able to find any information on either.

I hope you enjoy the historic photos and maybe this gets some creative juices flowing so we can come up with a fun name for the future E James Court park.


1209 E James Court (demolished - would have been on the park site - built 1907)

1211 E James Court (existing)

1215 E James Court (existing)

1217 E James Court (existing-built 1918)

1221 E James Court (demolished - where the Union Hall is now-built 1918)

1204 E James Court (on the SU construction site across from the park site-built 1904)


5 Responses to “History in pictures of E James Court”

  1. Bryan says:

    How about “Pacific Park” since there appears to have been a school across the street at one time called “Pacific School”?

  2. Dan says:

    I vote for Squire Park! Even though as Cecilia points out the neighborhood is (or should be) still known as Squire Park, I fear that the name is in danger of falling into disuse, after Swedish Hospital decided to call their nearby facility the “Cherry Hill Campus” instead of “Squire Park Campus.” In addition to the interesting facts re: Watson Squire in Cecilia’s post, he also was the chairman of the Statehood Convention and later served two terms in the US Senate, being the first holder of the seat currently held by Patty Murray. East Remington Court in the neighborhood is named in honor of his wife, Ida Remington (he wasn’t only the corporate secretary and treasurer of the Remington Arms Company, he also married Ida Remington, the daughter of Philo Remington; SW Ida Street in West Seattle is also named for her). In addition to platting the Squire Park neighborhood that bears his name, he at one time owned large chunks of the Downtown Business District, and also platted a number of other large tracts around the Puget Sound area. While in the Senate, he also introduced the legislation setting aside Mt. Rainier National Park and establishing Bremerton as the site of the naval shipyard. However, in spite of his political career and comparative fame during his lifetime, he is not well-known today outside of his family. I know, because my mother is Watson and Ida Squire’s great-granddaughter. Our large extended family is still based here in Seattle (although not in the Squire Park neighborhood), and I’d estimate that Watson and Ida have at least 100 living descendents still living here.

  3. lara behnert says:

    I think it would be great if the park was called Watson C. Squire Park. He built our neighborhood and has a long line of descendants in seattle, why not give him his due? It’s nice to lend a little history to the park, and give homage to a person that cared about our little area as much as we do.

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