Showing 163 results

Authority record

Kenneth G. Ollar

  • 2.1.3
  • Person
  • 1912-2007

Kenneth G. Ollar was born in Tacoma on April 29, 1912. He attended Stadium High School, University of Puget Sound, and Washington State University before beginning a career as a photographer. He served in the Signal Corps as Combat Photo Unit Commander for General Patton during World War II and continued to serve in the Army Reserve for 21 years. Between 1940 and 1977, Ollar was a staff photographer for Tacoma General Hospital where he started the Newborn Baby Picture Program. During his time at the hospital, he took over 80,000 photographs of newborns. He also worked as a Mount Rainier National Park Photographer and freelance photographer.

C.E. and Hattie King

  • 2.1.4
  • Business

C.E. (Charles) and Hattie King were photographers in Tacoma in the latter part of the 19th century. Charles King was hired by Northern Pacific in the 1870s to photograph land where the tracks were to be laid between Livingston, Montana and Tacoma. In the 1880s, Charles and Hattie were hired to photograph local churches, residences, and ships. Charles was known for being one of the earliest photographers to capture an image of Mount Rainier. Charles King would go on to serve as a Tacoma Police Captain.

Christopher Petrich

  • 2.1.5
  • Person

Christopher Petrich was born in Tacoma. He attended Bellarmine High School, Georgetown University, and the American University in Washington DC where he studied art, design, and art history. He also studied under fine art photographer Alan Ross. Petrich began his career at age sixteen as a Photographer and Lab Technician in the portrait studio of Bert Perler. In the early 1970s, he sold cameras at Barney Elliot's Camera Shop in downtown Tacoma. He was hired as a Photographer by the City of Tacoma where he worked with William Trueblood and Jerry Timmons to photograph city events. He worked on a number of aerial photography assignments in this role and performed darkroom lab processing for the City. He photographed notable Tacoma visitors including Leroy Ostransky, Jacques Cousteau, Bill Cosby, and Richard Nixon and he created visual documentation of the Hawthorne District which was removed during the construction of the Tacoma Dome. In 1985, Petrich and Jerry Timmons founded Image Market Studio on 6th Avenue. Over the course of his career, he was employed by the Weyerhaeuser Company, the Washington State Legislature, and Yuen Lui Studios. His work has been exhibited widely across Washington and shown in Colorado, California, and Vermont.

Marvin D. Boland

  • 2.1.6
  • Person
  • 1873-1950

Marvin Dement Boland was born in 1873 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to parents James M. Boland and Darah E. Pennington. (1) Bolan attended Vanderbilt University from 1892-1895, then attended Fairmont State Normal School in West Virginia. Boland taught at Fairmont and later in Sterling, Colorado while attending the University of Colorado and Colorado State Teachers College. (1) He would graduate in 1912 with a BA. Boland then moved to Tacoma in 1912 to teach manual arts in various schools. (2) After teaching for a year, Boland became a commercial photographer and owned several photographic studios in downtown Tacoma from 1915-1949.(2) On December 9th, 1950, Boland died while photographing Navy ships in Bremerton. (2) He married Earle Keith Patterson from Ashland, Ky., in 1902. They had two daughters together, Katherine John Boland and Sarah Elizabeth Boland. (1)

Lewis Law Jr.

  • 2.1.7
  • Person
  • 11/22/1929-1/23/1998

Lewis Law, born to Viva Berg and Lewis Law Sr., was a graduate of Stadium High School and served as a US Army reservist. As a lifelong Tacoman Lewis' career at Tacoma City Public Works Department spanned 42 years. There he worked as a sidewalk inspector, principal engineer aid, and in the city's traffic signs department. An accomplished photographer, he was a division chairman and later vice president of the Tacoma Photographic Society. In these roles, he presented on photographic composition and shooting color film, among other photographic techniques. Lewis was also an avid traveler who photographed many of his trips throughout his life. He retired from the city in 1995 and passed away on January 23rd, 1998.

Chapin Bowen

  • 2.1.8
  • Person
  • 1900-1956

Joseph Chapin Bowen was born on April 25, 1900, in Columbus, Ohio to Charles Ambrose Bowen and Mabel Shattuck Hayes Chapin. (1) Chapin Bowen operated his photography studio Chapin Bowen Inc. for 25 years in Tacoma.(2) Bowen also worked as a freelance photographer for the Tacoma News Tribune for 12 years.(2) He came to Tacoma in August 1924 from Wenatchee, WA, where he also worked as a photographer.(3) Before living in Wenatchee, Bowen had traveled to most US states holding various jobs. (3) For example, he was also an engineer after taking courses at the University of Washington, Whitman College, and Montana School of Mines.(3) Previously Bowen was employed by the Great Northern Railroad at the Cascade tunnel as their chief electrician.(3) Chapin Bowen married Irma Saunders on December 22, 1925. (1) Together they had three daughters.(2) He was a lifelong member of Tacoma's Young Men's Business Club.(2) He passed away at age 56 on May 30, 1956, in Seattle, WA.(2)

Amzie D. Browning

  • 2.1.9
  • Person
  • 1901-1972

Amzie D. Browning was born in Kent, WA, and moved to Tacoma in 1901. (1) He lived in Tacoma for 70 years, during which he was the owner and operator of Sharpe Sign Co. and was an oil and watercolor painter. (2) Many of his paintings were exhibited in Northwest shows. He also worked as a telegraph operator for the Northern Pacific Railway in 1909. (2) He took photographs documenting life in South Tacoma. Browning was a member of the Signwriters Union 403, Northwest Amateur Movie Council, and Morse Telegraph Club, and for 50 years, he was a member of the Tacoma Elks Lodge.(2) He married Beulah C. Kirt on September 15 1946. (3) Browning passed away on December 13, 1972.(4)

James R. Merritt

  • 2.2.1
  • Person

James R. Merritt, a native of Tacoma, graduated from the University of Washington College of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1970. He became a registered architect with the State of Washington in 1973. In 1975, he co-founded Glassie-Merritt where he was as a principal architect until 1979. He then went on to hold this role with several other firms including Tsang-Merritt (1979-1984), Merritt Associates (1984), Merritt + Pardini (1984-1998), Merritt + Pardini/PMX (1998-2001), and Merritt Arch (2001-present). He and his firms worked on a number of projects across Tacoma and the broader northwestern United States including the restoration of the Tacoma Union Station, the Pinkerton Building, and the Rialto Theatre.

Sutton, Whitney, and Dugan Architectural Firm

  • 2.2.2
  • Business
  • c. 1912-c.1973

The architectural firm of Albert Sutton and Harrison Allen Whitney operated in Portland, Oregon, from 1912-1950. After 1934 the firm name included Fred Aandahl, who had been a chief draftsman (1919-1923) and Associate (1923-1934). (1) The firm of Sutton, Whitney, and Dugan's projects included “the National Bank of Tacoma Building (1921), the W.R. Rust Building (1920), Scottish Rite Cathedral (1921), Annie Wright Seminary (1924), the campus of the College of Puget Sound (1923-1924; renamed the University of Puget Sound in 1960), and numerous residences.” (1) In 1927, a committee of Washington State architects for the state chapter of the American Institute of Architects conducted an architectural survey of all buildings in Tacoma. The committee presented awards to exceptional projects, and Sutton & Whitney received more than other Tacoma firms.(1) The highest Honor Award was given to the National Bank of Tacoma, and the College of Puget Sound and Annie Wright Seminary also received Honor Awards. “Sutton and Whitney received eleven awards from the committee for work ranging from commercial buildings to residences and schools.” (1)

Albert Sutton (1867-1923)
Albert Sutton was born on June 6, 1867, in Victoria, British Columbia; however, Sutton grew up in Portland, Oregon. (1) After attending the University of California Berkeley, he worked as a draftsman for the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1888 Sutton moved to Tacoma and formed a partnership with James Pickles. (1) Sutton and Pickles designed commercial buildings in Tacoma, including the “Sprague Block (1888); the Sprague Building (1980); the U.S. Post Office (1889); the Abbot Building (1889); the Uhlman Block (1889); the Baker Building (1889); the Wolf Building (1889); the Joy Block (1882); the Berlin Building (1892); the Dougan Block (1890); and the Holmes & Ball Furniture Co. (1890).” (1) The pair also designed the Wilson Hotel (1890) in Anacortes, but their partnership ended in 1893. (1)

Afterward, Sutton began a partnership with Ambrose J. Russell between 1893 and 1895. (1) After his partnership with Russell ended, Sutton moved to San Francisco and worked primarily with Charles Peter Weeks. The firm Sutton & Weeks was established around 1901 and lasted until 1910. (1) Sutton then returned to the Northwest and opened a practice in Hood River, Oregon. (1) He partnered with Harrison A. Whitney of Portland in 1912 and returned to Portland in 1916. Sutton returned to Tacoma in 1918 to establish a Tacoma branch of Sutton & Whitney with Earl A. Dugan as an associate. (1) Sutton was an American Institute of Architects (AIA) member and a Mason. On November 18, 1923 Albert Sutton passed away in Tacoma due to a heart attack. He was 56. (1)

Harrison Allen Whitney (1877-1962)
Harrison A. Whitney was originally from Iowa and was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Whitney worked in Boston and Chicago then moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1904 where he was head draftsman for Whidden & Lewis. While working for Whidden and Lewis, Whitney contributed designs for the Lewis and Clark Exposition and the Multnomah County Courthouse.(2) Whitney began partnering with Sutton in 1912.(2) When the firm of Sutton, Whitney, and Aandahl was dissolved in 1951, Whitney became the senior member of Whitney, Hinson, and Jacobsen.(3)

Earl Nathaniel Dugan (1877-1956)
Earl N. Dugan was born in Perry, Iowa and in 1906 he graduated from the University of Illinois. (4) Dugan worked in Chicago and San Francisco before moving to Tacoma to work as a draftsman in 1910. “Dugan exhibited a sketch of German city hall at the Seattle Architectural Club's 1910 Exhibition.” (5) Dugan partnered with Sutton and Whitney’s firm in 1922 and he also worked with Mock and Morrison. (4) Dugan was the founding member of the Tacoma Society of Architects and a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Washington State Chapter. (4)(5) He died at age 79 on 12/22/1956 in Seattle, WA. (5).

John H. Sutton
John H. Sutton was the son of Albert and Mary Sutton. He was born in Hood Canal, Oregon, and moved to Tacoma in 1920. (6) He graduated from Stadium High School and attended the University of Washington. Like his father, John H. Sutton worked as an architect, and in 1957 he designed the first addition to the Annie Wright Seminary since his father designed the building in 1924. (6) John H. Sutton was a member of the Tacoma Golf and Country Club, the Little Church on the Prairie, the American Institute of Architects, and the Tyee member of the University of Washington Alumni Association. He passed away on August 1, 1973. (6)

William Hocking

  • 2.2.4
  • Person
  • 1926-1976

William (Bill) Hocking was born in Seattle, WA in 1926, and grew up in Olympia. He was an architect and a member of both the Tacoma-Pierce County Civic Arts Commission and the Historical Landmarks Preservation Commission. After his death in June 1976, the Tacoma News Tribune described him as “a long-time advocate of preservation of Tacoma’s environment... Hocking was outspoken in his solutions, whether it was allowing people to use the City Waterway of the saving the old City Hall Annex.”

[1] “Wm. Hocking, architect,” The Tacoma News Tribune (Tacoma, Washington) · Mon, Jun 14, 1976 · Page 30,

Gerald Davis

  • 2.3.1
  • Person
  • 1926-?

Gerald Davis was born in England and moved with his family to Seattle in 1937. In 1941, his father Norman purchased Heidelberg Brewery and the family relocated to Tacoma and lived at 424 North D Street. Davis attended Stadium High School and began working at the brewery in the bottle shop warehouse. He joined the Navy in 1948 and attended the US Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. He then attended the University of Louvain in Belgium where he studied the chemistry of brewing. He then worked as an apprentice at Cardinal Brewing Company in Fribourg, Switzerland. He then returned to Heidelberg Brewery to work in marketing and advertising. The company was sold to Carling Brewing Company in 1958 and Davis joined Carling as Assistant to Director of Marketing.

Red Kelly

  • 2.3.2
  • Person
  • 1927-2004

Thomas “Red” Kelly was born on August 29, 1927, in Shelby, Montana, and moved around between various Montana orphanages from when he was a toddler until he reunited with his family at 16 years of age in Seattle. (1, 2) Kelly began learning to play the double-bass during his freshman year at Seattle Prep high school. (1) Jazz bandleader Tiny Hill was looking for a bassist while on tour in Seattle and hired Kelly to play. This sparked a more than three-decade touring schedule for Kelly which began with playing bass in Chubby Jackson’s Big Band in 1949. (1) During the early 1950s, Kelly toured with Herbie Fields, Charlie Barnet, Red Norvo and Claude Thornhill. Kelly also toured and recorded with Woody Herman’s band throughout the 1950s. (1)

Kelly returned to Seattle and then went to Los Angeles where he worked with Stan Kenton’s band as well as Med Flory and Maynard Ferguson, who would become lifelong friends. Throughout the 1960s, Kelly played with bandleader Harry James, where he struck up a friendship with famed drummer Buddy Rich. (1) Kelly married Donna Griswold in 1974 and they opened their own jazz club “The Tumwater Conservatory” while settling in Tumwater, Washington.

It was during this time, in 1976, that Kelly began his OWL party, based on the slogans of “Out With Logic” and “On With Lunacy”. (2) Kelly’s friends and family joined him on the ticket as Kelly ran a mock campaign for governor. He got 9 percent of the vote, which is a total “most third-party candidates can only dream of.” (3) Kelly and his family would wind up moving to Tacoma, Washington, and from 1986 until 2003, operated Kelly’s, a jazz bar, on South 11st Street and Tacoma Avenue South. (4) When not playing live shows with his various jazz-playing friends who would drop by the club, Kelly also ran for mayor of Tacoma under the OWL Party in 1989 and received 10 percent of the vote during a six-candidate primary. (3)

Wife, Donna, died in 1999 and Kelly closed his Tacoma jazz bar in September of 2003. (1) Kelly died on June 9, 2004, at the age of 76. Some of the well-known players Red Kelly played with during his life include Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstein, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman, Billie Holiday, Harry James, Stan Kenton, Charlie Parker, Buddy Rich and Frank Sinatra.

Cow Butter Store

  • 2.3.5
  • Business
  • 1892-1944

The Cow Butter Store operated in downtown Tacoma at or near the corner of Pacific Avenue and Jefferson Avenue for 52 years, from 1892 to 1944. The owner and proprietor, James A. Sproule (1865-1949), an immigrant from Ireland, arrived in Tacoma after having apprenticed in the grocery business in Liverpool, England. He was en route to Australia where his sister lived when he discerned the advantages of starting a business in Tacoma. In 1914 he leased his store for two years and traveled to New South Wales, visited his sister, and promoted Tacoma as a place name there.

Mr. Sproule was active in civic affairs and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 1910. He belonged to many fraternal organizations, including Woodmen of the World and the Improved Order of Red Men. When the question of the 1885 Chinese expulsion from Tacoma was revisited in 1895, he served as one of three replacements in the Committee of Fifteen. He was president of the Mount Tacoma Club, which lobbied for changing the name of Mount Rainier, and summited the mountain in 1903. He served as vice president of the Washington chapter of the American Medical Liberty League, and maintained a stance against mandatory vaccination.

He was married in 1893 to Eliza Eccles (circa 1868-1928), and had two children. A daughter Eliza, known as Ella or Babsie (1895-1999), married F. Bernard Wright. He established Wright Western Marine, a marine supply business now known as Tacoma Propeller. His son Jasper Edward, known as Ed (1899-1960) operated Ed Sproule’s Butter Store from 1925-1936 at 1110-1114 Pacific Avenue.

Cammarano Bros, Inc.

  • 2.3.6
  • Business
  • 1921-2001

The Cammarano Bros, Inc., formerly known as the Cammarano Brothers Bottling Co., was located on South 19th and Jefferson Avenue. It was formed by brothers Philip, James, William, and Edward Cammarano in 1921. The business started out with two delivery trucks which the brothers drove. These trucks were piled with cases of soda bottles and tanks of carbonated gas. (1) The Cammarano brothers later expanded the business, which involved constructing a building to house the company’s sales department and gaining additional trucks. (2) The location of the bottling company changed several times, with the final location being 2324 Center St. The company closed in 2001.


  • 2.4.1
  • Business
  • 1888-1993

In 1888, Dennis Ryan built a smelter on the Tacoma Waterfront of what would become the town of Ruston. Under the leadership of William Rust, the smelter, called the Tacoma Smelting & Refining Company, processed lead. Ran successfully by Rust until 1905, the smelter changed ownership and names when it was sold it to the Guggenheim brother’s company ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company) for $5.5 million dollars. In 1912, ASARCO transformed the plant from lead to primarily copper smelting and refining. ASARCO received a lease from the Port of Tacoma in the 1920’s to expand the plant, which contained multiple processing buildings and the smokestack.

The smokestack, an integral fixture in Ruston’s landscape, transformed over the years. In 1905, it measured at 307 feet tall, and following complaints, was raised to 571 feet in 1917 to disperse smoke higher in the air in order to mitigate its impact to the surrounding area. Ruston’s smokestack was the tallest chimney in the world at the time. However, in 1937, following damage from an earthquake, the stack measured 562 feet tall.

ASARCO owned and operated the smelter until 1985, when it shut down the Tacoma smelter due to the falling price of copper. The smelter played an important role in the economy of Ruston and the South Sound area. Tacoma News Tribune reports that, “the Asarco plant had employed more than 1,300 workers at its peak” [1]. and the Tacoma Daily Index reports that “for most of its years in operation, it provided about 40% of Ruston’s tax revenues” [2]. Additionally, the operation of the smelter created unique environmental impacts in the surrounding areas. Throughout the years of operation, the smelter emitted arsenic both into the air and the soil, and the refining process included pouring molten slag into commencement bay. This resulted in the smelter being designated as a federal superfund site in 1987 [3]. The Washington Department of Ecology explains, “In the mid-1990s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required Asarco to start cleanup work in the Ruston/North Tacoma Study Area under the Superfund program” [4]. The process of this clean-up included demolishing the old smelter buildings, alongside replacing and capping the soil in and around the smelter site.

In January of 1993, in front of a crowd of nearly 100,000 onlookers, the smokestack was demolished with dynamite. The Tacoma News Tribune reported that, “The 75-year-old chimney was dropped in its tracks Sunday by strategically placed explosive charges that knocked away its underpinnings. Crushed by its own weight, the stack crumbled into a 250-foot-long pile of bricks, interspersed with metal bands and a few chunks of masonry up to 15 feet across” [5]. The demolition of the smokestack changed Ruston’s landscape as ASARCO continued the government-mandated clean-up process that would continue on for years. The Tacoma News tribune reports that, “In 2004, workers demolished the last building and finished burying the worst of the contaminated materials in a huge pit” [6]. Additionally, throughout this time, the neighborhoods and public parks in proximity to the smelter were being offered both soil testing and replacement. The Tacoma News Tribune reports that, “from 1993 to 2011, Asarco and the EPA lab-tested 3,570 properties’ soils for pollution, and 2,436 of them had at least a section of soil replaced” [7].

In addition to cleaning up yards, construction began in 2006 on the emerging commercial and residential hub of Point Ruston. Cleanup continued of the surrounding area, and Washington State received a settlement of $188.5 million from ASARCO’s bankruptcy claim in 2009, with $95 million initially set aside for the continued clean-up of the smelter [8]. In 2013, $5 million of these funds were put towards the Metro Trails Project, allowing for the contaminated soil to finish being capped, and the opening of the Dune Peninsula of Point Defiance Public Park opening in July 2019. Today, Point Ruston consists of restaurants, shops, residential facilities, and a walking path alongside Commencement Bay.

Griffin Fuel Company

  • 2.4.2
  • Business
  • 1889-1966

The Griffin Fuel Company originated in 1889 as the Griffin Transfer Company. Founder Fred L. Griffin started the company in the Tacoma tide flats, originally transporting ice within established Tacoma fuel yards. The company eventually became a supplier of heating and fuel products to a large portion of the Tacoma population. Griffin Fuel transported coal, wood, sawdust, “fuel oil,” “hog fuel,” and “Presto logs” within Tacoma and the surrounding area. In 1949, Griffin Fuel Company was considered the “oldest and largest exclusive fuel dealer in the west." (1)

In 1931, Fred L. Griffin passed away and was succeeded as owner by his son, Edwin “Ed” L. Griffin. By 1942, Ed and his brother Fred expanded the business by opening a wholesale location by the name of “Griffin Bros” in Seattle. Griffin Fuel Company also opened oil storage facilities in Tacoma’s Lake district in 1951.(2)

In 1954 President of the corporation James S. Griffin changed the corporate name to James S. Griffin Co., and the company name also changed to Griffin-Galbriath Fuel Company. On Sept. 8th, 1965 the James S. Fuel Company liquidated all corporate assets and sold all property and naming rights to the Standard Oil Company of California, Western Operations, Inc. The Washington State Department ratified the official dissolution of Griffin-Galbriath Fuel Company on Dec. 5th, 1966.(3)

Byron Larsen

  • 2.4.3
  • Person
  • 1921-2008

Byron “By” I. Larson was a geologist, city planner, and civil engineer in the Puget Sound area. Born in Tacoma in 1921 he attended Stadium Highschool in Tacoma, and the University of Idaho where he studied geology and mining engineering. He later started his own civil engineering company in Seattle and remained in the Seattle-Tacoma area until his death in 2008.

Bertha Snell

  • 2.5.1
  • Person
  • 1873-1957

Bertha Marguerite Denton Snell was a lawyer in Tacoma in the early 20th century. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, she was the first woman to be admitted to the bar in the state of Washington. Born in Ottawa, Illinois in 1873, she was soon sent to live with an aunt and uncle in Galway, Saratoga County, New York. Her uncle, the Honorable Patrick H. Meehan, ran a law office and post office in Galway. Bertha graduated from the Teachers’ Institute at Saratoga in 1888. In 1889, she moved to Washington where she worked as secretary to the governor of the newly established State of Washington, Elisha P. Ferry. She also served as a legislative intern. In 1893, she married Tacoma attorney Marshall King Snell. In 1899, Bertha Snell passed the bar and became the first woman lawyer in Washington State. She became a partner in her husband’s firm and together they built a successful practice. They first operated out of the Equitable Building and then relocated to the Puget Sound National Bank Building. Among their cases were suits dealing with land in Pierce and Whitman counties, and a controversial irrigation and water rights suit in Idaho (Nelson Bennett & Co. vs. Twin Falls Land & Water Co., 1906). Marshall and Bertha Snell helped develop the town of Ewan, Whitman County, Washington, where they owned property. They also owned property in Spokane, North Puyallup, and elsewhere in Pierce County. The Snells had a personal interest in history and supported the establishment of the Washington State Historical Society. The Snell Law Office drew up the Constitution and by-laws for this organization in 1898, and Marshall Snell served as an early trustee. Marshall K. Snell died in Tacoma on April 19, 1939. Bertha Snell continued to practice law until 1953. She died on October 20, 1957.

Ralph William Thompson

  • 2.5.2
  • Person
  • 1889-1961

Ralph William Thompson was born in Livingston, Montana, on October 26, 1889. (1) He graduated from the University of Washington in 1914 and attended the University of Minnesota. (2) Thompson lived in Washington state for 60 years and served as an attorney for 47 years. (2) Thompson was also a member of Sigma Chi, the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association, and the Tacoma Club. (2) Thompson married Grace M. Knowles, whose father, Samuel Crawford Knowles, was a lumberman. (3) Ralph W. Thompson died on December 16, 1961, in Tacoma.

Astoria Iron Works

  • 2.6.1
  • Business
  • 1880-1930

Astoria Iron Works was a canning machinery company started in 1881 in Astoria, Oregon by John Fox. In 1906, he was joined in the venture by Nelson Troyer, formerly associated with the American Can Company at Astoria and Portland, Oregon. In 1913 the company opened a large factory in Seattle and became the Seattle-Astoria Iron Works. In 1928 the name changed to the Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company and the company was bought by the Continental Can Company, Inc. In 1932, Troyer-Fox Manufacturing Company and the Continental Can Company, Inc. of Washington were both dissolved and their assets taken over by the Continental Can Company, Inc. of New York.

Willits Brothers Canoe Company

  • 2.6.2
  • Business
  • 1908-1967

Two brothers, Earl Carmi Willits (1889 – 1967) and Floyd Calvin Willits (1892 – 1962) founded the Willits Brothers Canoe Company in Tacoma, Washington in 1908. They relocated to a shop they constructed on the shores of Wollochet Bay near Artondale, Washington in 1914. The brothers moved the business one last time in 1921 to a factory they built on Day Island, in what is now University Place, Washington. Willits Brothers Canoe Company ceased production upon the death of Floyd Willits on June 10, 1962 and closed for good when Earl died on April 20, 1967. Upon Earl’s death, the company passed to half-brother Leonard Homer Willits, who expressed interest in continuing to produce canoes, but he died in 1973 without advancing the business beyond making a few repairs on canoes and selling some of the existing inventory of paddles and other accessories.

Willits Brothers Canoe Company (which the brothers incorporated as Willits Brothers, Inc. in 1926 and then reverted to the original unincorporated business name in 1937 after the state dissolved the corporation for non-payment of incorporation fees) produced a single model of a 17-foot double-planked canoe. The canoes built by the brothers evolved over time, and with the 10th model becoming the last version in 1930. After a few years of experimenting with Spanish cedar planking and oak and teak trim, the brothers settled on the standard materials of red cedar planking, mahogany gunnels, thwarts, and decks, white oak stems, and mahogany or spruce seats in their canoes. Most of the 951 canoes made by Willits Brothers Canoe Company were for paddling, although the company offered accessories to allow them to be sailed, rowed, or propelled by outboard motor. Also manufactured were spruce paddles, carrying thwarts, cartop carrier blocks and straps, wooden slat or upholstered seat backs, floor carpeting, copper air tanks, and canvas spray and storage covers. Repair of damaged Willits Brothers canoes and sale of repair parts also was a service offered by the company. The bulk of sales of Willits canoes were in Washington state to boys’ and girls’ camps, rental liveries, the Red Cross, and private individuals, although a significant market developed throughout the United States. Marketing was almost exclusively via word-of-mouth, since no records exist of advertisements being placed by the brothers in boating periodicals or newspapers.

Except for periods during each World War, the company operated continuously from its founding until Earl Willits’ death in 1967. During World War I, production ceased while Earl served in the 137th Aero Squadron in England and France, and Floyd served in the 166th Depot Brigade at Camp Lewis, Washington. The brothers mustered out after the war, Earl as a Sergeant First Class and Floyd as a Second Lieutenant. The brothers were too old to serve in the military during World War II, but restrictions on the materials needed for manufacture of their canoes prevented them from continuing production for a time, even though demand remained strong. While the business was shut down, Earl worked as an automotive instructor at the Mount Rainier Ordnance Depot, and Floyd was on the payroll of the Day Island Club, which served the residents of the Day Island community.

Both brothers married later in life but did not have children. Floyd married first, on April 20, 1939, to Ruth Alice Carter. Ruth had been previously married to Victor Henry Morgan, the half-brother of Murray Morgan, a well-known Tacoma historian, author and columnist. Ruth’s marriage to Victor ended in divorce, but her marriage to Floyd lasted until her death on December 31, 1956. Earl married Laura Magill Smith on December 27, 1944. Laura was the widow of Elmer Smith, the attorney involved in and representing members of the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies) after an incident during Armistice Day celebration in Centralia, Washington in 1919 in which several people were killed and a Wobbly was lynched. Earl and Laura were married for almost 10 years, divorcing in October 1954. Laura died January 16, 1994.

Matthew Dick

  • 2.6.3
  • Person
  • 1949-

Matthew H. Dick grew up in southern Colorado. He left home for college at age 17 and received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1971, whereupon he worked for two years for the University of Alaska Museum. He worked for 10 years as a seasonal field biologist on the Bering Sea coast, around Kodiak, and in the Aleutian Islands. After he attended the Bates Boat Building Program from 1977 to 1979, he and his wife managed the village store in Ouzinkie, Alaska for a year and then built a cabin on the shore of Spruce Island, where he earned a living for several years commercially fishing salmon, halibut, herring, and crab on local boats. Subsequently, he returned to biology, earning a master's degree from Western Washington University and a PhD from Yale University. He taught biology and boatbuilding at Kodiak Community College for five years and biology at Middlebury College, Vermont for seven years. Since 2003 he has resided in Sapporo, Japan, where he worked at Hokkaido University until retirement in 2015.

Western Boat Building Company

  • 2.6.4
  • Business
  • 1916-1982

The Western Boat Building Company was started in 1916 by Martin Petrich, Joe Martinac, and William Vickat in Tacoma, WA. (1) It was first located on the site of the former Tacoma Mill Company, now Jack Hyde Park, at the foot of Starr Street. (1) During the first year, the company employed 40 men building fishing boats up to 70 feet in length. The vessels were designed for use in Alaska, the Columbia River, and Puget Sound. (2) By the end of the year, fourteen fishing boats worth $90,000 left the plant, and the Western Boatbuilding Corporation began receiving inquiries from all over the Puget Sound and Pacific Northwest. (2) Though the company was successful, at the end of 1917, Martinac left “to pursue better wartime opportunities as a foreman at the Tacoma Shipbuilding Company.” (2) Then, in 1922, the company moved to East 11th Street on the Thea Foss Waterway. Western Boat Building Corporation built mostly fishing vessels until WWII. During the war, they built sub-chasers, minesweepers, and J-boats at the 11th Street yard. (1) They even started a second yard on D Street to build larger boats. After the war, Western Boat Building Corporation returned to building fishing vessels, tugs, and coastal freighters. In 1965 the 11th St yard burned down, and a new yard was built on Marine View Drive on the Hylebos Waterway. (1)

The Company was most known for building the Western Flyer. The Western Flyer was a 77-foot-long purse seiner built in 1937. (3) In 1940, John Steinbeck chartered the Western Flyer for his trip with Ed Ricketts to Baja, California. The year before, Steinbeck had published “The Grapes of Wrath” and was viewed as a possible Communist. (3) The vessel would become famous due to the voyage and its feature in Steinbeck’s book “The Log from the Sea of Cortez.” (3)

Tacoma Land and Improvement Company

  • 2.7.1
  • Business
  • 1873-1923

Soon after it selected Tacoma as the terminus for its western line in 1873, the Northern Pacific Railroad formed a subsidiary, the Tacoma Land Company, to develop the city and sell the town lots. It was first incorporated as the Southern Improvement Company and immediately renamed the Tacoma Land Company. The first president of the company was Charles Barstow Wright, an officer in the Northern Pacific Railroad who had been a member of the committee that selected Tacoma as the western terminus location. Fellow Northern Pacific officer Frederick Billings was vice-president, and John C. Ainsworth, owner of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, was third director. Wright, Billings, and Ainsworth invested personally in Tacoma and were involved with the early development of the city. Tacoma Land Company was reorganized in 1899 and renamed the Tacoma Land & Improvement Co. The Tacoma Land & Improvement Co. was dissolved in 1923. These records are from the estate of former Tacoma Land Company vice-president Frederick Billings, who also served as president of the Northern Pacific Railroad from 1879 to 1881.

Tom Terrien

  • 2.7.2
  • Person
  • 1917-2009

Tom Terrien was born in Lake City in 1917 to Antionette and Edward Terrien. He attended Lake City School and Lincol High School. After graduating, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. In 1939, he began his 40 year career with Tacoma Transit. In the 1960s, he was promoted into operational management for the transit system. During this time, he was responsible for hiring the first Black bus drivers for Tacoma Transit and the first women bus drivers since WWII. He was eventually promoted to Superintendent of Transportation and retired in 1981.

Edward D. Geddes

  • 2.7.6
  • Person
  • 1901-1969

Edward D. Geddes was born in Marysville but lived most of his life in Tacoma. (1) At his retirement, Geddes had spent 47 years at sea and was the master of 15 ships. In 1919, Geddes began his career as an apprentice seaman on the merchant marine training ship Iris. He worked as a carpenter, messman, quartermaster, boatswain’s mate, and a licensed officer. (2)

Geddes was named captain of the Weyerhaeuser owned steamship Heffron on November 25, 1938. During World War II, the Heffron and 34 other ships made up a convoy to deliver war materials to Murmansk, Russia. (2) The convoy experienced Japanese air and submarine attacks. Near Iceland the convoy was attacked by enemy torpedoes. The Heffron was hit five times by the submarine, but Captain Geddes was able to call for his men to abandon ship and only one man was lost in the sinking. As a result, Geddes was awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal. (2)

From May 1944-November 1945 Captain Geddes served as a navigator for the U.S. Navy on the USS Hermitage and on the USS Europa. (2) The USS Europa was the third largest ship in the world at the time. He retired as a lieutenant commander from the Navy Reserve. (1)

Before his retirement Geddes was a master mariner for the Weyerhaeuser Co. and American Mail Lines. He was in command of ocean cargo and passenger vessels from 1938 to 1966. Edward D. Geddes died February 26, 1969, in Tacoma, Washington at 68 years old. (1)

Day's Tailor-D Clothing, Inc.

  • 2.9.1
  • Business
  • 1902-1973

Frank E. Day (1874-1947) arrived in Tacoma from Fayette, Iowa in 1900. In 1903, he and Frank L. Shull filed articles of incorporation to form Shull-Day and Company. The company quickly became known for its "Big 5" work overalls. In 1906, the employees unionized with the United Garment Workers of America forming Local 201. The slogan "Western Made, Union Made" began being used to advertised the company's products. The company was operated out of 100-108 South 29th Street and employed 100 people by 1908. By 1928, the company had changed its named to Day's Tailor-D Clothing, Inc. Frank's sons, Hollis and Judd, took over the company following the death of their father in 1947. The company grew rapidly and began offering casual and dress slacks and sportswear. They became well known for the "College Cords" and "San Juan Slacks." By the 1950s, Day's reported 400 employees and a payroll of a million dollars. They were one of the largest employers of women in the region. They began an affiliate company in Canada called CanaDay's and operated manufacturing plants, distribution centers, and retail stores across the United States. In 1973, the company merged with Warnaco Inc.

Society of Professional Graphic Artists

  • 3.2.1
  • Organization
  • 1955-

The Society of Professional Graphic Artists is a trade association for freelance graphic artists. The Seattle chapter was established in 1955 under the name Art Studio Association of Seattle. In 1972, the group renamed again to Professional Art Studio Association and become the Society of Professional Graphic Artists (SPGA) in 1974. SPGA members voted to join the Graphic Artists Guild in 1993, changing the final name to SPGA Seattle Chapter of the Graphic Artists Guild. The group hosted educational events and art showcases including ArtJam, an exhibit of local artists, and workshops on copyright law, royalty-free artwork, and how to attract more clients. The SPGA offered legal and health services to paying members and focused on fair business practices and ethics regarding treatment of independent artists.

George M. Miller

  • 3.2.2
  • Person
  • 1889-1964

George Miclea Miller was born in Palos, Romania on October 5, 1889. He immigrated to the United States and lived in Ohio before relocating to Tacoma in 1923. He worked as a longshoreman and checker for 32 years. He served eight years as President of the Local 38-97 International Longshoreman's Association (ILA), five years as the President of the Washington State Maritime Trades Group, and five years as President of the ILA District Council. Miller represented the longshoreman during the Streamline Strike of 1936 and helped lead a demand for higher wages for Pacific Coast longshore workers in 1940. He died in November 1964 at the age of 75.

Arthur J. Miller

  • 3.2.3
  • Person

Arthur J. Miller was a lifelong labor and civil rights advocate, born in San Diego but primarily active in the Puget Sound region after 1989. In 1967, he became involved in the anti-war movement and was allied with the Black Panther Party in the late ’60s. He made a career as a pipefitter in shipyards across the United States, joining the Industrial Workers of the World in 1970 at the suggestion of an I.W.W. member. His contributions in distributing radical leftist literature for the Panthers, and later his own publication Bayou La Rose, made him the target of disruption efforts of local and federal authorities. Arthur Miller passed in 2021.

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