« back to main

Archive for the ‘History’ Category

History in pictures of E James Court

Friday, March 11th, 2011

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)