Sunday, December 2, 2012

All This and the Everett Public Library Too


I drove up to Everett the other day to spend some time at the little jewel box that is its central library, a space imagined by one of the region's finest 1930s Art Deco practitioners and filled not only with books, but also with wonderful Northwest art and a first rate coffee shop where I met up with Margaret Riddle and David Dilgard.  Margaret is a staff historian at HistoryLink.org who spent a career at the Everett Library and David runs its nifty Northwest Collection.


Historic Everett
The harmonics on this day are particularly powerful.  Nearby the library is the house of Roland Hartley, a penny pinching governor who plotted against the architect who built the Everett Library, Carl F. Gould, forcing him out as the founding Dean of the University of Washington’s School of Architecture in an academic putsch that claimed as well the very top of the university’s leadership, Henry Suzzallo, the school’s popular and effective president.  That evening in October, 1926, three thousand students massed around President Suzzallo's house chanting their support.  

It was Gould who designed and supervised the building of the great, Gothic library on the University of Washington campus now named after Suzzallo.  Nothing at the University of Washington is named after Hartley which seems about right. These reverberations and others are with me as we walk through the terrific library in Everett.

Everett Library
It was a ladies book club that started the path to this library with stops in a book club member’s home, then three rooms in City Hall and finally, in 1905, with a Carnegie Library the industrious ladies of the book club stocked with nearly 3,000 volumes.  

As one of the few soft stops in an otherwise hard town, the library was soon too small and, with a gift of $75,000 from one of the former mill owners, the library board was able to attract some additional funds, $35,000 from the New Deal.  It seemed improbable, but in the middle of the Great Depression they were looking for a designer to create a brand new $110,000 library.  Carl Gould, the most prominent of the state’s architects from the firm Bebb and Gould, was their choice. 

The building today reflects the timing of their choice.  Gould had begun thinking about the design of the Seattle Art Museum in Seattle’s Volunteer Park in 1931 and began working up ideas for the Everett Library a few months after.  Like the art museum, the library design features gentle curves on the outside of the structure and in internal spaces that play off the straight lines of its basic rectangular shape.  

A later renovation and expansion in 1992 did a wonderful job of both restoration and new construction and provides an additional entrance, one that leads to the coffee shop and from there to the front hall of the building, through the reading room and its arching ceiling and then to a lovely terrace overlooking Gardner Bay.

Gould loved art and tried to create a culture in the design of his buildings where art was incorporated throughout.  Often he did decorative pieces himself and placed them on his buildings.  The Everett Library has clearly adopted that culture and art is fully incorporated into the building both in its original design and its wonderful 1992 expansion.  

Many of Gould's designs have a Christmas tree quality to them, simple squares or rectangles creating the structure with decorative touches popping out of the simplicity.  This lovely aluminum representation of a book is a piece done by Virginia Paquette and is part of the renovation and expansion and hangs above the new entrance. Gould would have been highly pleased by it.

Many of the University of Washington buildings designed by Gould and Bebb contain decorative work done by Dudley Pratt, an artist and teacher at the University of Washington.  Gould asked Pratt to decorate the main hall of the Everett Library and Pratt chose the history of books as his theme.  Originally anticipated to be carved from wood, the wood pieces did not stand out enough against the oak panels of the entrance hall so Pratt turned to a shiny metal called Britannia that is similar to pewter though more pliable. 

There are four panels.  One is of two Stone Age men carving on boulders.  The person on the left is diligently creating creating pictographs on a stone, using a deer horn as a stylus.  On the right, the second man is rubbing a sharp stone over the boulder.  Pratt writes:

“He is absent-mindedly rubbing his stone back and forth, only half interested, having nothing better to do.  Many anthropologists believe that this is the way that literature got its start.”

A second shows two Egyptians with papyrus scrolls, an eagle perched between them.  Pratt comments:

“One scribe, plump and middle-aged has succumbed to a comfortable job; the other, too young to accept the monotonous formality of Egyptian life and literature, sits thinking dissatisfied thoughts.”



My favorite is the image of two monks copying their manuscripts, the light flowing up from a candle nearby and below.  They look diligent, fat and comfortable, their work meticulous.  They look fresh here, as if at work in the morning, after prayers.  In the afternoons their minds cloud over, thinking of the wine they will drink and the sausages and onions they will consume that will make them even fatter. 

Finally, the last panel shows an early, bulky printing press.

“The square, blocky lines of the press, the tight-lipped, hunched-over printer, and the boredom of the apprentice as he counts the pages symbolize the advent of the machine age in literature,” Pratt writes.

Gould also asked another artist colleague, John T.  Jacobsen, with whom he worked at the University of Washington library project, to produce murals for the Everett Library.  


Jacobsen produced murals from the Pacific Northwest's history, starting with Vancouver's dropping anchor in Everett's Gardner Bay.  You can see Jacobsen's images inside the Suzzallo Library as well.

The expansion done in 1992 created some new public spaces inside and it was clearly a beautiful job.  

The big windows in the back of the reading room carry out the Art Deco theme elegantly while also letting in substantial natural light.  It is a comfortable room surrounded by beautiful detailing in the woodwork and in a stained glass clock at the back of the room set off by an enormous half globe emanating light while hovering in the air at the room's center. 

A window looking out from the children's room contains an aluminum piece, also done by Dorothy Paquette, that appears to show a flock of books on the wing, flying magically away to someplace only the children know.

Many of the pieces in the library hail from the depression era Federal Arts Program and back to the beginnings of the Northwest School, a group of artists who gave the rough and tumble Northwest a place on the international arts map.  The Federal Arts Program was supposed to get money to artists whose livelihoods had melted away in the crisis. Some people said there was nothing worth buying in the Northwest, but from the debris of the Great Depression famously came the Northwest School’s finest artists -- Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Mark Toby, Morris Graves and many lesser known but highly talented artists whose bread was buttered, in part, by the New Deal. 

As Harry Hopkins, the Roosevelt sidekick who headed up the program, famously said:

“They’ve got to eat like other people.”

In the eight years it operated, the Federal Arts Program resulted in 108,000 paintings, nearly 18,000 sculptures, 11,200 print designs, 35,000 poster designs, 2,500 murals.  Community arts centers were set up across the country, employing artists to teach the theory and practice of art outside its usual homes in the formal education system or in academia.  It also created the Index of American Design, a huge research program that showed how Americans created art that explained their unique cultures across the country. 

Everett Public Library
The Everett Library has always been open to new things.  In the twenties it started one of the first bookmobiles in the country.  Recently, it has expanded its digital collection, making available thousands of photographs from the Everett Herald newspaper and old photographic collections as well as documents from the private sector and government. 

A 1923 modified Ford Model T was the bookmobile.  Named Pegasus, it is still kicking.  You can see the restored bookmobile at any serious parade in Everett.

Hartley is second from the right
Everett Public Library
Roland Hartley was an accountant who married the boss’s daughter and went on to work for him first when the boss was Governor of Minnesota and then when the family moved out to Everett to get at fresher, bigger timber.  Soon he was rich and Roland had a big house on Rucker Avenue overlooking the bay.  He would have been disgusted that the government spent money maintaining a list of historic places and that his home was on it.  He had a Grover Norquist-like, “drown it in the bathtub” point of view about government.  He used slightly different imagery than does Norquist today or his contemporaries then.  When some in Hartley's era campaigned with a broom or a mop, Hartley’s image for the proper role of government was a spittoon which he faithfully carried on campaign trips as a frequently utilized prop.

Wikipedia Commons
He hated spending money.  When he took office as Mayor of Everett in 1910, his budget laid off a third of the police force and most of the sanitary workers of the city.  He also turned off the street lights.  The citizens of Everett raised the money to turn them back on. 

He moved on to the state legislature where he became a perennial candidate for governor, running as a Republican in 1916 and 1920, where he failed to get out of the primary.  In ‘24, however, he emerged from the primary with less than a percentage point lead.  In a time when Republicans in Washington state were solid locks in a general election, Hartley nearly got upset by the Democrat.  The new governor was not loved, but he could survive.

His survival cost his attorney general, John Dunbar, his marriage and his health.  Hartley ignored Dunbar's advice, constantly put Dunbar in boxes he could not get out of and frustrated the man completely.  Dunbar died a drunk after abandoning his wife and child.

Henry Suzzallo
University of Washington Libraries
Hartley watched the transformation of the University of Washington from the site of the Alaska Yukon Exposition with growing alarm.  Buildings were flying up out of the ground at an alarming pace and he thought it was a clear case of out of control spending.  He blamed lots of people for this, including the regents, whom he thought as tools of the President, Henry Suzzallo, a socialist, of course -- Croation parents and his support of the eight hour day for timber workers all the evidence you would ever need.   If you needed more, however, there was the 1915 session of the legislature where Hartley tried to attach a rider on a University of Washington appropriation restricting the University from offering “any teaching of political economy.”  Suzzallo led the successful charge against.  People who were not like Hartley were either socialists or bums or, more often than not, both. 

University of Washington Collections
Another tool of the university president in Hartley's view was the architectural firm of Bebb and Gould.  They had hired on as campus planners and architects in 1915 and had 22 different commissions on the campus.  The most substantial commission was the Gothic library at the center of the campus where the ceiling was 65 feet above the richly appointed reading room, sculptures of past geniuses posing outside the structure -- Moses, Pasteur, Newton, da Vinci, Franklin, Homer, Darwin, Beethoven, Grotius, Guttenberg, Justinian, Adam Smith.  You can hear Hartley now, speaking ardently to his spittoon:

“Do they really need all of them?  Won’t two or three do?  And those hand-carved native plants on the bookcases!  What a waste!!”

Ground broke on the new library in 1923 and, as it rose up in all its glory, Hartley finally took over as Governor in 1924.  After just a year in office, Governor Hartley was pleased to note that two members of the seven members making up the Board of Regents left in January, 1926 and he replaced them quickly.  Later, Hartley removed three other regents and replaced them with his own people.  Hartley now had five of seven regents and was ready to move. 

Suzzallo was brought before the Regents at 6:00 PM October 4, 1926 and asked to resign.  He refused.  The new UW Regents feared an even stronger political reaction if they fired him, so because his contract was up in June of 1927, they took the action of placing Suzzallo on indefinite leave.  The two non-Hartley Regents resigned.
 
Governor Hartley protested he knew nothing of Suzzallo’s removal, saying that his regents acted on their own.  However, the Seattle Times quickly pieced together a different story.  The morning of the fourth, Hartley was staying at the Olympic Hotel, a Gould and Bebb project, incidentally.  He and his group made a great show of leaving the hotel to head back to the office in Olympia.  But the governor actually decamped to the New Washington Hotel (today’s Josephinum), ordered up rooms and extra chairs, hosted his brand new regents and played out the strategies and messages that would be deployed that evening.  They decided that the official reason for Suzzallo’s dismissal would be “discord between the administration and some of the faculty,” a tried and true reason for axing a university president, then and now. Hartley left Seattle before the meeting began and was nearing Olympia when the deed was done.

It was a tradition to install a baseball diamond on the
side of the Times Building and follow, in real time,
World Series play.  
University of Washington Collections
Publisher Clarence Blethen of the Seattle Times was a big booster of Suzzallo and the university.  He also lived in a Carl F. Gould designed house and worked in the Times Square headquarters of the paper, a Bebb and Gould design.  His son, Frank, was a leader in student government and was earning a letter in 1926 as the coxwain of the University of Washington crew.  He loved what Suzzallo and Gould were doing at the University of Washington as did many people.  When Suzzallo started, there were 2,000 students at the University of Washington.  When he was sacked, there were 7,000.  People in the know and people who didn't pay much attention could see the that the university was rising in stature and mostly because of Henry Suzzallo.

In a Seattle Times edition almost completely dedicated to these stunning events, Blethen led with a front page editorial:

“Let’s Get Rid of this Pitiful Man!”

“Picture a small-spirited man who wears the habiliments of the governor’s office as a two year old might wear Dempsey’s overcoat, and then look at Dr.  Suzzallo, cultured, accomplished and able!” 

“Ten years from now, Suzzallo will be a still greater name.  But who will remember the governor who tried to injure him?”

Three thousand chanting students gathered around the President’s House at the university.  Finally, Suzzallo came out the door to a five minute round of cheering.  Suzzallo cautioned the crowd.

Guttormsen, on the right, did color commentary
for KOMO radio after graduation
“If you are tempted to do anything that might injure the university, I advise you to go to the front of our library building.  Look up at it.  That will be your inspiration to refrain from doing anything that might reflect on it.  Will you promise to do that?”

Another great cheer.  Then George Guttormsen, a young man from a sports-minded Everett family who was the president of the student body and also the captain of the varsity football team, came forward. 

“We come here tonight to show Dr. Suzzallo our heartfelt appreciation for his work in building up the university.  We want to show him our devotion to the University and his ideals.”

By the end of the month, the Regents had forced out Gould as well, claiming that there was some kind of conflict between being Dean of the School of Architecture and having a financial interest in planning and designing buildings for the university. 

The Times later wrote that "an audit of the university books was ordered and the governor's accountant was going through all records like divine grace through a camp meeting."

Despite the Times support and that of the alumni associaition, the effort to recall Hartley ran out of gas and failed due to lack of signatures.

University of Washington Libraries

Gould was a New Yorker from wealthy and accomplished families on both his mother’s and father’s sides. After Harvard, he attended the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, the national fine arts school in Paris, where he stayed for five years, returning to New York to practice architecture. 


As a young man in New York, he certainly had significant range as an assistant to older mentors.  He worked on the layout of the Wisconsin State Capitol Building in Madison and on the planning for the rebuilding of San Francisco after the earthquake.

There is a bit of a mystery why he suddenly came to Seattle in 1908. Yes, he had been ill in 1907 and may have sought a healthier climate, but a good supposition is that he was practicing in New York along with three brothers-in-law, all architects, all accomplished. His health might have been the reason. It could also have been his elbows.  


Larrabee House, Bellingham
Lairmont Manor

His design skills and taste in the arts led him quickly to many clients along the gold coasts of Capitol Hill, the Highlands, Lake Washington and Bainbridge Island, where Gould was a full time resident until 1920. He built residences for William E. Boeing, Clarence Blethen, the lawyer Lawrence Bogle, the lovely home in the center of a ten acre garden done by the Olmsteds for Arthur and Jeanette Dunn. There was the unusual Charles X. Larrabee home in Bellingham and one of the Seattle's first three car garages, in 1912, attached to the home of the David Skinner family.


Charles Bebb
UW Libraries

He also fought for the Bogue Plan, a city beautiful planning effort that failed to produce a civic center with grand boulevards spiraling out from the 4th and Blanchard area near Westlake. The decision to build the county courthouse where it is today, across the way from the Smith Tower, where most of the city’s lawyers were, doomed the Bogue plan.

His partnership with Charles H. Bebb in 1915 began the intimate association with the University of Washington that abruptly came to an end that Fall of 1926. He was able to finish his work on the Henry Art Gallery on the campus, largely because it was privately funded and tax money was not at stake.

After 1926, the Seattle Art Museum, the Everett Library, the Public Health Service Hospital were his major projects. He returned to the university after Governor Hartley left office, designing the College of Pharmacy and Smith Hall, along with a sorority house. He died in early 1939.


His buildings aren’t his only legacy. His daughter, Anne Gould Hauberg has been a primary force in Seattle arts as both a collector and patron for seventy years. One son became an architect and the other a research engineer. 

Gould's illness was brief and his sudden death a surprise.  Anne rushed home from school in the east and arrived on January 1, 1939, prepared to take his place at the firm until her father's illness was over.  Gould died on the fourth. 

Both Gould and Suzzallo died in the 1930s, Suzzallo six years before Gould in 1933, the library they built together was named for Suzzallo within a few days after Suzzallo's death.  Gould Hall, the home of today's UW Architectural School, was named for Carl Gould in 1971.  Their nemesis, Roland Hartley, though without a namesake public building, survived them by many years.  He died in 1952 in his home in Everett at 88 years.  The state government shuttered its doors for one hour during the time of his funeral, a touch he would have appreciated, though the tightwad in him might have said, "not enough hours."


Read About Dudley and Virginia Pratt

The Fall of John Dunbar and the Rise of Virginia Boren


Pacific Coast Architecture Data Base, Carl F. Gould

Index of American Design

Northwest Collection at the Everett Library

Dedication Program, Everett Public Library

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your kind words about the Everett Public Library. It is a community jewel, and I'm very proud of the work done by our staff.

    ReplyDelete