Fremont is easily reached from downtown Seattle by traveling along the west shore of Lake Union.
Fremont in Seattle was one of the city’s early neighborhoods with its own identity. It was founded as a land development, like a suburb, with the name of Fremont given because its investors came from Fremont, Nebraska. In 1888 Edward and Carrie Blewett of Fremont, Nebraska, formed a business partnership with Seattle investors to develop the site.
The new Fremont was in a very advantageous location. Despite the lack of roads between downtown Seattle to Fremont in 1888, people were already traveling across Lake Union by boat. The co-investors of Fremont intended to make it even more accessible from downtown Seattle via a streetcar line along the west side of Lake Union (Westlake Avenue).
The Red Door in Fremont is in a building which was moved to 3401 Evanston Ave N.
The Red Door restaurant is in the Fremont Drug Company building which was moved to its present site, 3401 Evanston Avenue, in the year 2001. This original Fremont Drug Company building was built in 1895 at 3401 Fremont Avenue.
Today’s Red Door is a restaurant featuring craft beers, begun in 1988. At its present site of 3401 Evanston Avenue, the Red Door opens daily at 11 AM and is known for a great menu of sandwiches, burgers, seafood, wings and soup-salad lunch features.
This is the third blog post in the series about the Fremont Drug Company and its building, which is now the Red Door. The story of the Red Door building illustrates the historic heritage of the Fremont business district and the ups and downs of its economy over time.
The census of the year 1900 showed that at age 24, Thomas W. Lough had already experienced extremes of joys and heartaches in his life. At age 21 in January 1898, Thomas married Vina Graham in a ceremony at the home of Vina’s parents in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. Less than two years later, Vina died.
Vina Lough grave marker at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery on Queen Anne Hill. Photo courtesy of FindAGrave.com
The census of the year 1900 listed the widowed Thomas Lough and his one-year-old daughter Verah as living with his in-laws, Stephen & Emma Graham, who lived next door to the Cheadle family in the 3600 block of Aurora Avenue. The Grahams raised their granddaughter, freeing Thomas Lough to attend classes at the University of Washington and work toward his chosen profession of pharmacist.
Looking southward from Second & Cherry Streets in July 1889, we see tents set up for businesses in the burned-over downtown district. Photo courtesy of MOHAI.
In the 1880s the City of Seattle had been growing slowly and was only the second-largest city in Washington Territory, after Walla Walla. At the end of that decade, Seattle experienced a growth spurt from an unexpected source: a major fire in its downtown business district. Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, caused the rebirth of the city. The post-fire rebuilding boom made Seattle the most populous city in Washington, a position which it has never lost since then.
The Great Fire did not reached the residential hillsides surrounding downtown Seattle. After the Fire the residential areas began to grow as new people streamed into Seattle to get work in the reconstruction-of-downtown building boom. Fremont was one of the neighborhoods which grew with the population growth of Seattle.
Along with the story of the naming of Seattle’s downtown streets, here on this blog I have also explored ways to find out the meaning of street names outside of the downtown area.
The origins of the naming of the City of Seattle are still being debated today. Was Seattle first called “Duwamps?” I (Valarie) am re-posting here, an excellent article by Seattle historian Rob Ketcherside, which explores the origins of Seattle’s naming.
US topographical map t1406 of Duwamish Bay
In 1894 Ross and Fremont were shown as place names with railroad stops. The ship canal had not yet been built but there was a creek called The Outlet from Lake Union, flowing westward.
The story of Seattle’s Great Fire of June 6, 1889, was widely publicized in national newspapers, including the response of Seattle leaders who pulled together immediately to commence rebuilding the downtown business zone.
Across the USA people recognized the opportunity to get in on the reconstruction boom, and soon people of many different skills, from carpenters to real estate investors, began arriving in Seattle. New doctors arrived in the city, too, and businessmen with services to offer such as drugstores, meat markets and groceries.
The suburb of Fremont had been founded just a year before Seattle’s Great Fire and was out of range of the fire. Fremont’s industries, including a lumber mill, iron foundry and construction materials company, boomed with business in the post-fire City of Seattle rebuilding program. Fremont also acquired new doctors and drugstores in 1889-1890 to serve the resident population.
The Fremont neighborhood of Seattle is located at the northwest corner of Lake Union, which Seattle’s early-arriving white settlers recognized as an ideal location for industries such as sawmills.
In 1888 Fremont’s developers began sales of lots from this real estate sign at about the present site of the Fremont Bridge. Photo courtesy of UW Special Collections, Asahel Curtis Item 482.
Even though the future-Fremont site was the 1854 homestead claim of William A. Strickler, settlement of this advantageous land area was delayed by legal problems until 1888.
Finally when the new Seattle suburb was named Fremont and was opened up for settlement in 1888, there was a land rush of buyers wanting to obtain lots. In order to help get the new community going, the real estate agents offered residential lots at the price of $1 to the first one hundred buyers.
Along with residences and businesses, a minister was one of the first to buy property in the new Fremont development. Rev. Albert Canney was a church-planter employed by the office of the Presbyterian churches of Seattle. Rev. Canney purchased a site for a future church building in Fremont on North 36th Street at the northeast corner of 1st Ave North.
In the early 1900s nationalist fervor built up in Europe until the tensions exploded into the First World War from 1914 to 1918. When Germany declared war on Russia, it set off power struggles within that country which ended Russia’s Romanov dynasty and led to even more political and social upheaval. Vladimir Lenin claimed to be leading a “workers revolution,” but he seized power and became dictator of the world’s first communist country, the Soviet Union.
Lenin speaking at a rally in 1919
In Seattle after the First World War there was some economic instability and social unrest such as the Seattle General Strike in February 1919. In this centennial year of the Seattle General Strike, the event is being re-examined as to its causes, course, and conclusion. Some believe that the Strike was triggered in part by news of the “workers revolution” in Russia. Unfortunately for Russia, the so-called “power to the people” movement devolved into nothing more than another oppressive regime, led by Lenin.
Despite some turmoil in Seattle in 1919, free enterprise prevailed. One of the key factors in overcoming oppression is the freedom to make one’s own choices of work and other opportunities. In Seattle in the 1920s immigrants could take hold of the American Dream by owning their own businesses. One such example of immigrant success was the Fremont Tire Shop at 3526 Fremont Place North, in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. The business was established by two Norwegian men.
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