The Moore Theater

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What exactly does it mean to offer your theater to ‘legitimate shows’? According to Mr. Webster the definition of ‘legitimate’ that applies to this context is “relating to plays acted by professional actors but not including revues, burlesques, or some forms of musical comedy”.

Now why did this matter?

I’m not sure if this sign was part of the original Moore Theatre’s design or added at some point during the theatre’s 108-year history but in 1907, when the Moore opened, theatre did not always have the best of reputations. While being one of the main forms of public entertainment there were many types of shows performed on stages and some were less respectable than others. Bawdy comedies, vaudeville performances, burlesques (at this point in history more song-and-dance shows then the strip teases they became), and dance hall performances painted a wide and varied picture of the ‘stage’ in many peoples minds. Some legitimate theatres, eager to distance themselves from these scandalous groups, actually advertised themselves more as lecture halls then performance venues. To that end they could calm the fears of the more reserved and conservatives members of society which would ensure that they stayed in business.

The Moore is the oldest still-operating theatre in Seattle. As the sign promises it does offer real stage shows along with the mentioned concerts and other types of entertainment. When it opened it catered to Seattle’s elite though, like many theatre venues, it was sorely hit by the changing times and almost closed its doors permanently during the 1970s before a huge innovation saved it…but more on that turn of events in a moment.

The Moore had a long and (rather) glorious run before the 1970s came about. In its first decade it was the home of the Seattle Symphony, and such performers as Ethel Barrymore, and the Marx Brothers graced their stage along with presentations of several Shakespeare plays and “Madame Butterfly”.

The Moore was bought by the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit right after the first World War ended. They kept it as their main base until 1927. That was when they built their own theatre (now closed) several blocks away. At that point the Moore went up for lease and it was rented by Cecilia Schultz, a premotor of different arts in Seattle. She used the theater for a wide variety of events ranging from musical performances to lectures by Robert Ripley. After she retired in 1949 the Moore was rented mainly by different religious revivals and other smaller events.

Another short run of glory began in 1954 when Hugh Becket, the manager of the freshly-closed Seattle Metropolitan Theatre, took over the Moore and continued his business of booking and hosting plays and performances. Still it did not last long and The Moore was back to renting itself out and struggling to stay ahead of newer theatres and the afore-mentioned rise of the cinema within a few years. By the 1970s the theatre was on the ropes even though it had been added to the historic registry of Seattle in 1974.

As they say though adaptation is the key to survival.

In 1975 two Canadians, Darryl MacDonald and Dan Ireland, took on the theatre and transformed it into a cinema house. They meant to use it as a home for Hollywood revivals and foreign films but in 1976 the Moore, now called the Moore Egyptian, became the home to the first annual Seattle International Film Festival. As SIFF went on to become one of the most successful film festivals in America it moved its headquarters first to a theatre on Capital Hill and then to another building at City Center in Seattle. Ten years later the Moore (dropping “Egyptian” from the title as that went to the new SIFF theatre In Capital Hill) was again without tenants and reverted to being an event-to-event rental again.

In 1992 Ida Cole, an alumna of Microsoft, and her non-profit organization, The Seattle Landmark Association (Which would later become the Seattle Theatre Group), leased the property from its long-time owner George Toulouse. His ownership was the main reason behind the theatre surviving so long with its historical architecture mainly intact.

Now the Moore Theatre, the Seattle Theatre Group still leasing it from the Toulouse family, has returned to its roots as a venue for dynamic entertainment. They have incorporated all of the new additions that have been added over the years which allows which allows them to use the space for all kinds of events, from bands giving concerts to dance troupes and stage actors performing on stage along with using it as a movie theatre.

The Moore Theatre is a true survivor story. In an era when cities across the United States are losing so many of their historic buildings it’s comforting to know that a few of them manage to hang on through dedicated supporters and sheer persistence. Let’s hope we start hearing more success stories like the Moore in the years to come!

Dictionary cited from: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legtimate

Information about the Moore Theatre gathered from www.historylink.org , Wikipedia.org , and http://www.stgpresents.org/moore

The Des Moines Marina

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I talk a lot about all of the neat stuff in Seattle proper but there many amazing things in the towns that surround the city. One of the prettiest places I’ve found is the Des Moines Marina, about twenty minutes south of Seattle.

Since I do not own a boat I do not use the moorage services offered by the marina but that is only one of the reasons to visit. The main reason I personally like to go is for the walk—it’s a short but gorgeous walk along the dock area before turning to follow a jetty out into the Puget Sound. I like to go down there just to catch a breath of fresh sea air and some space, along with having a nice place to walk where I can see water and boats rather than construction and cars, which seem too common in the areas that I usually trek. Plus there is something wonderfully stress relieving about just seeing a new vista once in a while.

In January I was at the Marina when I grabbed this shot. As you can see on a sunny day Mt. Rainer is visible and, if you’re looking the other way, you can also spot the Olympic mountains. If you like to look at boats this is an excellent watching spot. Along with the vessels docked at the marina, a mix of sailing yachts of various sizes and fishing boats, you can also see some of the ferries from Seattle and other sailboats moving around on the water. You’re also close enough to SeaTac airport to see planes either taking off or landing depending on the direction that the airport is flowing that day (On some days the planes take off over Des Moines and come in for landings over Seattle. Other days they switch this pattern).

Parking is free at the Marina in the marked public parking areas. Driving directions are at http://www.desmoinesmarina.com if you would like to come on down and check out the walk at the next sunny day we have! Or a rainy day…it doesn’t really matter. No matter the weather the Sound is always pretty and it is always a real treat to get out and walk along it for a bit!

The Seattle Seahawks Send-Off

As the news has been reporting for about a week now the Seattle Seahawks are playing in Superbowl XLIX (49)! This is the second year in a row that the Seahawks are off to the biggest game of the year in American football—and that hasn’t happened in quite some time! To be honest it is quite a big deal here in Seattle and in the greater Pacific Northwest area.
Not every city, or even every state, can afford its own NFL team so the Seattle Seahawks are the nearest team for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia (Which has a bigger American football following then I excepted honestly). Plus pockets of the fans (Calling themselves “The 12th Man”) pop up all over the country. To say that the fans are loyal would be an understatement—they are well known as one of the most devoted followings of fans for any NFL team.
Last year for the Superbowl and following celebrations they proved that they’d earned this title…and now this year they’re out to top their own record turn-outs from last year!
Sunday is officially a week out from the big game at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona which is home field for the Arizona Cardinals during the main season. The Seahawks team flew out on Sunday to spend a week practicing and getting ready for Sunday’s kick-off. The team buses took them from their training compound in Renton, Washington and carried them down interstate 5 to SeaTac airport….and along every bit of the route that had a safe-ish place to stand fans crowded to see the team off.
I live about three doors down from the main road that the buses would be traveling on so my mom and I watched the live chopper feed from Channel 7 as they reported on the buses leaving the training compound. Once they were on the interstate my mom and I donned appropriate gear, collected a few members of her ‘team’ of Seahawks plush figures and snowmen, and walked down to the corner to see the buses off.
Bear in mind that fans had been gathering in our neighborhood since about 7am (I was woken up to loud chants of “Sea-HAWKS, Sea-HAWKS!”) though the team website had recommended that fans start gathering about 9am. So by the time my mom and I walked down about 9:15 or so the crowds were thick…and the ones right in front of my street were thin compared to what awaited the team down at the intersection and near the airport. Here are some photos that I nabbed of my street corner:

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The police had shut down all of the streets to traffic and had roped off a lane for the buses and their escorts to get through. Everywhere else was a sea of blue and green, fans bearing homemade signs, waving flags and chanting out slogans and support for the team.
It only lasted a few minutes before the buses went through and headed up into the airport for their flight to Arizona. Fans cheered their hearts out until the buses were out of sight and then dispersed and headed home. There will be an even bigger party next week for the game and I have a feeling that, should the Seahawks bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Seattle for the second time, the fans will throw an even bigger party then the one they had last year when an estimated 700,000 fans turned out for the Victory parade. Please bear in mind that Seattle’s regular population is a bit over 650,000…and many of the Seattle citizens did NOT turn out for the parade.
We shall have to see what the future brings—but the one thing I can promise you is that the 12th Man always knows how to throw a good party and some great support for their beloved team! If you would like to see more photos of the send-off the Seattle Seahawks website has a gallery full of pictures of fans along the whole route!

The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum–Seattle’s Hidden Museum

Pioneer Square is a treasure trove for Seattle history, being one of the oldest areas of the city. At 317 3rd Avenue South, about a block from the train station and the International District Link Light Rail station, you can find the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum. This is a small museum where the general public can access most of the Seattle Police Department and King County Sheriff Department’s histories. I cannot say ‘all’ of the history since most of the records and photographs from the departments’ early histories (prior to June 1889) was lost in the Great Seattle Fire which I will probably do a whole blog on since that disaster really shaped the face of the ‘modern’ city. They have only been able to locate one photograph of the department before 1889—it was found in a private collection and, as of the time I visited, it was in the museum.

It is not a large museum compared to many in Seattle but it is the largest privately funded police museum in United States. Inside of the museum the exhibits focus on related photographs and documents from the history of the area, displays on weaponry, uniforms, and badges as they progressed. There is also a vintage communication section and a jail cell for visitors to explore.

I originally headed to the museum to research a Steampunk novel I was working on. I was able to spend a very pleasant afternoon wandering around the displays and chatting with the elderly lady at the front desk. She was one of the few volunteers who help keep the museum open—it is a small affair and sometimes it gets passed over more than it deserves.

As she showed me the museum is laid out in a chronological order, starting with the Sheriff’s department that covered the territory before Seattle was officially incorporated. With gaps for the information lost in the fire (the original police station burned down) it moved into the 20th century, discussing the back-and-forth tensions between the Sheriff’s department and the Police department. Bootlegging came up next and the Prohibition—slowly it moved into the Depression, and then the changes the department went through during World War II. Along the way they discussed how the police department grew and changed as the area grew bigger and more small towns were incorporated in. Finally it moved into modern times and some of the more well-known crime histories in the area. The interactive displays like a 9-1-1 dispatcher console are located in a side room toward the back of the museum—they’re really fun to take a peek at!

Since this museum is often passed over except by researchers like myself, or visitors to Seattle who’ve seen it on a map and are curious, you do not need to worry about fighting large crowds. I was alone in the building for over an hour before a small group of travelers came in to check out the displays.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00am to 4:00pm. Anyone 12 and older are considered adults and their admission is $4.00 per person. Children 11 and under, along with handicapped guests, are $2.00 per person.

If you are a researcher the museum does have access to a research library. However it is not open to the public due to the delicate materials being stored there. Requests for information may be submitted to the museum by either calling the museum or writing to them. They will need an explanation of what you are looking for and the reason why—once they have that information they’ll help you as best they can. More information about the library can be found on the website: http://www.seametropolicemuseum.org/default.html

Now you all go out and have a good time exploring one of Seattle’s over-looked gems!

Seattle Central Library

Christmas has settled into the past and now we face the long, bleak days until spring returns again. I think, no matter where you live in the Western Hemisphere, the winter months drag on until the hope that spring will comes again begins to fade.

Still there are ways to beat even the most insistent case of rainy-day blues! One of my favorite ways to cope is to hide in the library—and Seattle offers one of the most beautiful public libraries on the West Coast.

The Seattle Central Library, with the main entrance on 4th Street right between Spring and Madison, is the central hub for the Seattle Public Library system. It is a magnificent steel-and-glass building that Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus designed in 2004, and in 2007 the American Institute of Architects placed it at #108 on their list of “150 Favorite Structures in the US”. The library is 11 stories tall and it can hold over one million books and other media, including DVDs, magazines, and newspapers. On the top floor one can find the Seattle Room—a reference room filled with antique maps and many, many books from historical accounts to copies of Washington State and Seattle City censuses and legal documents. It is a treasure trove for the history buff, the historical novelist or even just a local history fan.

One of the most interesting features of the building is the Book Spiral on floors six through eight. These floors house the non-fiction section of the library and are designed as a spiral so that the Dewey Decimal System filing system would not broken up—if you start at the bottom of the spiral you can wander all the way to the back of the eighth floor without being interrupted.

If you like fiction you’ll find the Children’s’ section on the first floor and the Teen and Adult fiction are on the third floor. I’ve wiled away many a rainy afternoon curled up among these shelves with a murder mystery or thumbing through a graphic novel or two. Often it’s the only way to spend a few hours—a wonderful break in a busy day.

The library is free to anyone who wishes to come in. If you are hungry or thirsty there is a coffee shop on the third floor called Chocolati. It sells prepackaged sandwiches, baked treats, a variety of hot drinks, and hand-made chocolates. Naturally food and drink is limited to the coffee shop tables and chairs, it is not allowed in the book or computer areas of the library. Right next to the coffee shop is a gift shop that focuses on items for book-lovers and readers. It also features arts and crafts created by local artists.

The library is open seven days a week. Every day but Sunday it opens at 10 am, on Sunday it opens at noon. Monday through Thursday it closes at 8 pm. Friday through Sunday it closes at 6 pm.

Enjoy your visit—if you do go be sure to stop by Chocolati, you’ll need the energy to explore the library in the fullness that it deserves! Have a good time!

2015 Dawns

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While the traditional season for posting pictures of the Nativity is a few days behind us I found myself returning to this photo from my Christmas Eve post as New Year’s Eve winds down into New Year’s Day. In it I find much that represents this Eve, as opposed to the Eve that such imagery is usually associated with.
Peace, quiet, warmth and a new child—the ultimate symbol of new life and beginning again. That’s really what New Year’s is about, once all of the parties have died down, the fireworks have been shot off and the champagne has been drunk. We all make a big deal about resolutions for the new year but, more than making huge promises to ourselves that are difficult to keep (Because I really don’t think any of us are going to cut ALL sugar out of our diet or hit the gym five times a week), we should make honest ones. Mine is to be less afraid of the new and the challenging.
That is what I hope to bring to this blog in 2015. The usual photo essays will keep going up on Wednesdays, and the text-based blogs on Sundays. I would also like to add a weekly vlog to the mix—when this will start and on what day is heavily leaning on when I get the equipment for it but I am hoping that it will be in the spring at some point.
New destinations will also be added—along with my usual discussions about Seattle I will be writing more about Victoria, British Columbia—one of my favorite cities in North America. I will also be taking a week-long trip to London, England in the spring so you will all be getting blogs and photography from that excursion. My Seattle excursions will begin to focus more firmly on museums, tours and festivals in the area along with some discussion of the local convention scene. I’ll probably also be adding in discussion on restaurants as Seattle is well-known for its food scene.
As I have already proven this year the blog will continue to focus on multi-generational fun that doesn’t have to break the bank. Seattle is an amazing city with a million things to do in it—and I hope to bring some of those to you all.
If you’re visiting Seattle, planning to visit Seattle or have just moved here and you’ve got questions please ask them! I’ll help you as much as I can! If you’ve lived in Seattle your whole life and you’ve got recommendations or a place you think I should explore please share it with me!
If you would like to see more of my photography from Seattle and the other areas that I visit I am posting most of my photography on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/129436660@N06/
Have a safe and very, very happy holiday. I hope that 2015 is a wonderful year for all of you and that, together, we can keep exploring and learning about the amazing world around us! God bless!

New Year Fireworks in Seattle

The rush of Christmas is behind us and we have sunk into the odd, quiet lull that comes between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Once 2015 kicks off we’re ready to tackle life again but, for now, we all seem to enjoy a quiet week-longer breather between the two holidays.

I, personally, have never really been a big fan of going out on New Year’s Eve. I’ve always favored staying home and watching fireworks on television rather than risk the foggy cold that comes with most New Year’s Eves in Seattle—also because it always seems like I have something planned for first thing in the morning on the first day of the year!

That being said this habit means I’ve become fairly well-versed in home celebrations and which areas offer the best fireworks shows. While New York does have some good ones and, of course, watching the Ball drop in Times Square is a must-see, I’ve found that the best fireworks show is actually right here in Seattle.

Every year the whole Space Needle is festooned with fireworks that will all be launched in a nine-minute show that features music from the listener-supported radio station KEXP. The whole spectacle is one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world to be launched from a stationary structure and one of the most recognized shows along the whole Pacific coastline. That could be helped by the fact that the Space Needle is one of the easiest-identified skyline-features on the Pacific Coast—shooting fireworks from it just makes it even more awesome.

If you’d like to watch the show from the warmth of your home KING 5 (channel 5) will be giving the live broadcast from 11:35pm until 12:30am with the fireworks show starting at 11:59pm if all things go according to schedule.

If you decide to tune in I hope you like the show! If you are one of the 20,000 spectators who have bought tickets to one of the parties at City Center or will be gathering below the Space Needle to see the show in person have a great time and stay warm!

Happy Almost-2015!