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Chapin Bowen Photographs
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Chapin Bowen Photographs

  • 2.1.8

Includes photographs taken by Chapin Bowen across his career as a photographer in Wenatchee and Tacoma. Coverage includes local churches, businesses, organizations, and cemeteries. Military, aircraft, and parades are also included.

Chapin Bowen


Tacoma photographer Chapin Bowen described Luther "Dad" Sullins as "a real silk salesman" when he took this portrait of Sullins in Wright Park. Silk was a multi-million dollar business on Puget Sound, as well as in Vancouver, B. C., starting around 1913 and still active in 1927. Raw silk from Japan and China arrived on cargo ships. The delicate raw silk bales were immediately transferred to railroad cars pulled by steam locomotives. The silk trains, carrying multi-million dollar cargos and displaying white flags, had the track right-of-way as they traveled at 80-mile-an-hour speeds to New York and eastern mills. BGN 092.


Tacoma's grand opera house, the Tacoma Theater was built at 902 Broadway in 1889. It was converted into a motion picture theater in 1927 and renamed the Broadway Theater (or Theatre, as on its marquee). Workmen are seen preparing the new marquee in January of 1927. Over 20,000 people attended the grand opening on Feb. 4, 1927. Renamed the Music Box Theater in 1933, the building was destroyed in a spectacular fire on April 30, 1963.

BOWEN G36.1-226

Adela Rogers St. Johns, on location of "The Patent Leather Kid," March 24, 1927. Striking a relaxed pose, Miss St. Johns wears her helmet tilted as she sits in a director's chair while visiting the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" at Camp (Fort) Lewis. She wrote the screen adaptation of Rupert Hughes' short story of the same name. Miss St. Johns was a noted journalist and writer who was known for her distinctive, emotional style. A reporter for the Hearst newspapers, she also interviewed celebrated actors for Photoplay magazine, wrote short stories for various periodicals and also wrote many screenplays. She did not restrict herself to a genre but wrote on such varied subjects as the controversial Dempsey-Tunney "long-count" fight, the 1935 Bruno Hauptmann trial, the assassination of Senator Huey Long and the abdication of King Edward VIII of Great Britain. After retiring from newspaper work in 1948, she went on to write books, including her autobiography "Honeycomb," and to teach at a series of universities. Old age did not deter her; she returned to newspaper work at age 82 to report for the San Francisco Examiner on the bank robbery trial of Patricia Hearst. She died at the age of 94 in 1988; she was still working at the time of her death on a book regarding Jesus Christ. (Britannica Online: Women in American History) BGN-163

BOWEN G36.1-215

Arthur Edeson, cameraman, First National Productions' "The Patent Leather Kid," March 29, 1927. Mr. Edeson positions his camera which is mounted on a wheeled cart. He was the director of photography for the film which was lensed on the grounds of Camp (Fort) Lewis. A founder of the A.S.C. (American Society of Cinematographers), he later pioneered location sound photography as the cameraman of "In Old Arizona" (1929). "Stella Dallas,' "All Quiet on the Western Front," " Mutiny on the Bounty ," "They Drive By Night," "Maltese Falcon," and "Casablanca" were just a few of the many films Mr. Edeson worked on. He retired at the age of 58 after a career spanning the silent and sound eras. (Film Encyclopedia, p. 373) BGN-165

BOWEN G36.1-230

Filming of the "Battle of Argonne" war scenes of "The Patent Leather Kid," March 24, 1927, at Camp (Fort) Lewis. "German" soldiers charge down a hill, dodging explosives, while others hunker down in trenches. They would soon be overpowered by the superior numbers of American troops and tanks. BGN-111

BOWEN G36.1-222

Battle of Argonne filmed on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis on March 24, 1927. German troops huddle in trenches behind rock and vegetation barriers as they await the charge of American soldiers during the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid." Camp (Fort) Lewis was apparently ideally suited due to its natural resources as a prime substitute for France and thousands of military personnel were made available for use as extras with the permission of the Army. The location of the "Big Drive," scene of the fierce fighting of the Argonne forest, is almost the exact replica of the famous war sector according to Army technical advisers. BGN-113

BOWEN G36.1-218B

Portrait of Al Santell, director of "The Patent Leather Kid," on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis on March 24, 1927. A jaunty beret and Army-issue jacket protect him from the often inclement weather. Mr. Santell was chosen to helm the war drama starring Richard Barthelmess and Molly O'Day. A San Francisco native, he was a comedy writer, set decorator and occasional actor before directing comedy shorts at the age of 20. He subsequently directed a number of silent and sound films of all types. He is perhaps best known for his film adaptations of Maxwell Anderson's "Winterset" (1936) and Eugene O'Neill's "The Hairy Ape." (1944). BGN-116

BOWEN G36.1-217

Troop of soldiers relax during the filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" on March 29, 1927, on the grounds of Camp (Fort) Lewis. An exceptionally tall soldier certainly stands out in the crowd of his compatriots. These men were probably portraying American foot soldiers in a vivid enactment of the Battle of the Argonne. First National Studio arranged to have the outdoor battle scenes filmed at Camp (Fort) Lewis and thousands of regular USA personnel as well as ROTC units from the University of Washington and 600+ civilians participated in the filming. BGN-117

BOWEN G36.1-218

Actor Richard Barthelmess, writer Adela Rogers St. Johns & director Al Santell on location at Camp (Fort) Lewis during filming of "The Patent Leather Kid, " March, 1927. Miss St. Johns wrote the screen adaptation of Rupert Hughes' short story of the same name. She had arrived in Tacoma on March 22, 1927, to help the continuity of the script. Mr. Barthelmess played the role of a self-centered boxer who learns to face death with the same courage he had faced his ring opponents. He was a Best Actor nominee at the 1927-28 Academy Awards for "The Noose" and "The Patent Leather Kid;" Mr. Hughes also received a nomination for Original Writing. Director Santell was praised by the New York Times critic Mordaunt Hall for bringing out Mr. Barthelmess' flawless acting and while realizing the full pictoral values of his scenes, never permitting them to interrupt the trend of the story. Mr. Santell would go on to direct dozens of silent and sound films of all genres, including The Arizona Kid (1930), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932), Winterset (1936) and The Hairy Ape. (1944) BGN-438

BOWEN G36.1-210

Tacoma greets movie stars at the Union Depot. A hearty greeting from the City of Tacoma was offered to the actresses and actors appearing in the H.C. Weaver Productions studio film, "Totem Pole Beggar," on March 5, 1926. Shaking hands with star Wanda Hawley, wearing a voluminous fur coat, is believed to be A.D. Bjornstad. Mr. Bjornstad had attended school with Miss Hawley ten years previously and was currently employed as auditor at the Weaver Studios. The couple is flanked by two city policemen on motorcycles; the police officers are dressed for the cold weather with leather boots, gauntlets with long gloves and thick coats. "Totem Pole Beggar," whose title would later be changed to "Eyes of the Totem," would be the second film produced by the H.C. Weaver Productions studio. It would begin filming on March 8, 1926, and open at the Broadway Theatre on June 10, 1927. (TDL 3-6-26, p. 1)

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Perched high above the flight deck of the U.S.S. Lexington on the 8-inch guns of the forward turrets, these young women do not appear at all nervous during their visit to the aircraft carrier in December, 1929. The Navy did permit tours of the ship which was tied up at Baker Dock from mid-December, 1929, to mid-January, 1930, to provide power to the City of Tacoma. Schoolchildren and Boy Scouts were among those who visited the large ship. On December 23, 1929, Freda Gardener, of the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, Ethel Haasarud, RKO cashier, and Naomi Dykeman, head usher, Fox Rialto, were present to promote the Chamber of Commerce's big dance for the Lexington's enlisted men to be held on December 26 at the Greenwich Coliseum. They would be the judges awarding prizes to the most handsome, most happy and best dancer present at the dance. TPL-1774 (T.Times, 12-23-29, p. 1)


This print from a damaged glass plate negative shows an aerial view of South Tacoma taken in February of 1927. The massive South Tacoma Shops, owned by the Northern Pacific Railway, are located in the center. The plant repaired all Northern Pacific railroad locomotives and cars west of the Mississippi. The shops were composed of 36 separate brick buildings spread out over 15 acres. The grounds were over 1 1/2 miles long, and the work force of 1,250 employees from 20 expert crafts commanded a payroll of $1,500,000 per year. Established in 1890 as Edison Car Shops, the shops closed in 1974. The body of water in the foreground just west of the "shops" was a wetlands area affectionately known to residents of the area as the "South Tacoma Swamp." The road at the right, near the south end of the swamp, is 56th Street. (TNT 02/18/1927, pg. 2)

BOWEN G36.1-220

Soldiers at attention during filming of "The Patent Leather Kid" at Camp (Fort) Lewis in March, 1927. The filming of this war drama involved the usage of thousands of soldiers from the 4th Infantry (Fort Lawton), 7th Infantry (Vancouver) and ROTC units from the University of Washington. Actual soldiers played screen soldiers on both sides in the First National production, although most of the enemy soldiers were played by the U.W. college students who had to cut their film careers short to return to school after spring break. The studio had to recruit hundreds of extras to replace them. This group pictured above of Imperial German soldiers seems unsure whether all should salute or not. TPL-10377

BOWEN G36.1-232

Actor on location set for "Patent Leather Kid," April 14, 1927, at Camp (Fort) Lewis. This unidentified actor leans against the archway of the ruins of a French cathedral used in the film's climatic battle scenes. He is probably portraying an American officer. The First National studio film crew used seven locations at Camp (Fort) Lewis to make realistic replicas of the French countryside. Desperate Germans would use this French cathedral as a final stand against superior American forces. BGN-126

BOWEN G36.1-218C

Director Al Santell and actor Richard Barthelmess flank Al Rockett, First National producer, at a train station in March, 1927. The stars and crew of "The Patent Leather Kid" arrived by special train in Tacoma for filming at Camp (Fort) Lewis where vivid battle scenes would be shot. Mr. Barthelmess would be later nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of a boxer who eventually enlists in the war and engages in the Battle of Argonne. (TNT 3-16-27, p. 1)


L.M. Phillipotts, seaman second class, sights a five inch broadside gun from the deck of the New Mexico directly on City Hall during a gun drill July 22, 1927. The U.S.S. New Mexico, flagship of the Pacific Fleet, was in Tacoma's harbor until the first of August. The battleship was commissioned in May of 1918 and spent the first World War close to the U.S. In 1919, she steamed to Europe and escorted President Woodrow Wilson home from the Versailles peace conference. After playing a prominent role in World War II, she was decommissioned in 1946 and sold for scrap. (TNT 7/22/1927 p.1)


15-year-old Alexina Slater, in cap and swimsuit, was the only female entrant in the first organized channel swim from the Tahlequah Ferry Terminal on Vashon Island to Point Defiance held on September 26, 1926. She finished fourth with a time of 1 hr. 20 minutes, outracing nine other swimmers. The Stadium High School student was only 18 minutes behind Gerhard Bahr's winning time of 1 hr. 2 minutes. While Bahr received the roars befitting the champion, Miss Slater was also heavily applauded by the crowd of 10,000. Her picture appeared on the front page of the News Tribune and the headline actually read " Girl Given Cheer as She Swims Point Defiance Channel." Miss Slater, of 5517 N. 45th St., began swimming at age 4 under the direction of her father. (Tacoma Sunday Ledger, 9-26-26, p. 1, TNT 9-27-26, p. 1)


Alexina Slater, showing the vitality of youth, shrugs off her grueling 2-mile swim across the Point Defiance channel and dances the Charleston in front of a movie camera on September 26, 1926. The 15-year-old Stadium High School student was the only female entry in the race from Talequah to Point Defiance but she outswam nine others to finish fourth. Her time of 1 hr. 20 minutes was only 18 minutes slower than the winner, Gerhard Bahr. The massive crowd of 10,000 heartily cheered and applauded her efforts. Miss Slater, of 5517 N. 45th St., was presented a trophy from Mahncke & Co. in honor of her accomplishment. (Tacoma Sunday Ledger, 9-26-26, p. 1, TNT 9-27-26, p. 1)


Lt. Commander Richard E. Byrd (later Rear Admiral), the "Conqueror of the North Pole," poses with a Franklin car on February 5, 1927 during his stay as Tacoma's guest. Commander Byrd stands beside the car with Gus Ledbetter at the far right. The man in the center is not identified. He would be speaking on February 5th at the First Baptist Church about his career as a noted aviator and explorer. He was riding a crest of fame created when he and Floyd Bennett proclaimed to the world that they had flown over the North Pole on May 9, 1926. The remainder of his life, after 1928, would be devoted to his exploration of Antarctica. He died in 1957. (TNT 2/5/1927 p.1; Ledger 2/6/1927, pg. 1)


On April 28, 1927, a group of interested businessmen made the first Tacoma to Paradise Valley tourist trip by air. They were inspecting the possibilities of regular tourist flights from Tacoma to "Mount Tacoma" (Mount Rainier), making sights usually available only to climbers possible for the average tourist. Pictured, left to right, are Paul H. Sceva (Assistant to the General Manager of Rainier National Park Co.), Frank E. Roberts (Tacoma News Tribune), Vernon Bookwalter (pilot) and Vern C. Gorst (President of Pacific Air Transport.) The flight was made on a six passenger Fokker monoplane owned by Pacific Air, the coast contract mail carrier. (TNT 4/29/1927, pg. 1)


On April 27, 1928, Miss Franc Hale, local girl made good, returned to Tacoma. She was pictured stepping out of the special Pullman car belonging to the Walker Whiteside acting troupe. She carried an armful of American Beauty roses presented to her by the Chamber of Commerce. Miss Hale appeared as Mr. Whiteside's leading lady in two plays at the Helig Theater in Tacoma. Walker Whiteside was a famous actor whose career spanned 45 years, and material from Shakespeare to the movies. Miss Hale had attended Annie Wright and later acting classes in California and Seattle. She started out with a Portland stock company and later joined the acting companies of May Robson and John Cort. Later Miss Hale vocalized in the syndicated radio show "Jungle Jim," (1935-1954), appearing as Shanghai Lil. (TNT 4/27/1928, pg. 1)

BOWEN G14.1-029

In August of 1926, Killian Van R. Schermerhorn, standing, and Wilmot McCune spent a week rowing 80 nautical miles from Point Defiance to Olympia and back. The Stadium High School juniors travelled in a double-oared "clinker" that they rented from the park's boathouse. They rowed in sunshine, moonlight and even a storm that landed them on McNeil Island. Once they convinced the guards that they were not part of a prison break, they were treated royally. Throughout the trip, the boys stayed close to shore or rowed from island to island, camping as they tired. (TNT 9/3/1926, pg. 1) BGN-053

BOWEN G14.1-028

In August of 1926 Killian Van R. Schermerhorn, in boat, and Wilmot McCune, on log, spent a week rowing 80 nautical miles from Point Defiance to Olympia and back in a double oared "clinker" they rented from the Park's boathouse. They stayed close to shore or hopped from island to island, camping when they needed rest. They even rowed in a storm, that capsized them on McNeil Island. After convincing the prison guards that they were not trying to "break anyone out," the guards fed, clothed and housed them until the storm was over. (TNT 9/3/1926, pg. 1) TPL-588 , BGN-054


Mrs. Lou Miller, principal and track coach of Ruston (grade) School, raises her gun to start her three students off running. The boys were practicing for the April, 1928 county grade school meet at Spanaway. Richard Andeson, farthest left, was entering his first meet. Donald Nevers (also spelled Neuens in the News Tribune article) and John Slavich were high point winners of their respective classes last year. Boys were divided into three classes according to weight, height and age. Ruston School planned to enter various dashes, baseball throws and relay races. The school fielded boy and girl track athletes; girls would also enter the Spanaway meet. Mrs. Miller had been coaching for several years with her charges performing admirably in their athletic endeavors. (TNT 4-18-28, p. 14)

BOWEN G76.1-137

In early March of 1926, Albert C.C. Gamer was being loaded down with Tacoma tourist information as he prepared to depart for Paris for the International Hotelmen's Convention. Mr. Gamer, the manager of the Olympus Hotel at 815 Pacific, was approached by area civic organizations as the proper person to carry Tacoma's invitation to Europe. Surrounding Mr. Gamer, left to right, are Joseph Erpelding, carrying Mr. Gamer's bag; Gladys Mase of the City Light Department, giving him facts and pictures of the Cushman power project; Mrs. R.N. Bergen of the Hotel Winthrop; Ruth Edwards (standing) representing the Rainier National Park Co. and Agnes Hansen, representing the Civic Development Bureau of the Tacoma News Tribune. The International Hotelmen met once every three years and the meeting was attending by hosts from all around the world. (TNT 3/11/1926, pg. 1) TPL-6331; Bowen #26141

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