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Annexation to Seattle – Marking the Date with Wheelbarrows

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March 22, 2010 by foghi

Get your wheelbarrow ready for Annexation to Seattle!

Georgetown Councilman Conner would give anti-annexation Councilman Hale a ride in a wheelbarrow from City Hall to Junction (Dawson) Street and return. The barrow had been decorated, while Hale wore a silk hat in honor of the occasion.

The date was March 29, 1910.

On March 28th, 2010, the Friends of Georgetown History would like to commemorate this wager and historic date with a wheelbarrow parade from Old City Hall to Grand* Avenue, which is only a few blocks away.

When: Sunday, March 28th – 3pm, 2010

Where: Old City Hall at 13th and Bailey

It is hard to truly speculate which events actually triggered a decision to annex to Seattle in 1910. Some say water improvements promised in the Seattle mayoral elections would benefit area businesses and were hard to pass up. Others say annexation was looming due to illegal vice surrounding the roadhouses and saloons on Estelle Street (Carleton Avenue), or even that Georgetown was an impediment to “progress” in the Duwamish Valley. All of these issues were discussed, debated and finally decided upon 100 years ago this month

Georgetown was entirely surrounded by Seattle by 1910, and this historic vote would change the face of the Duwamish Valley forever. Mayor Mueller, Georgetown Mayor 1904-1908) had decided not to run in the 1909 mayoral race. It would be Mayor Slocum’s administration moving into the newly completed City Hall on Bateman (Bailey) Street. The writing seemed to be on the walls by this time.

Council members moved to shut down the saloons and roadhouses along Estelle Street (Carleton Avenue). It could be argued that council members were protecting their interests and in their saloons over in the “business district” Rainier Avenue (Airport Way). Only existing liquor licenses to remain valid at the time of annexation.

Proprietors from all the roadhouses on Estelle/were charged with conducting unlawful houses, and asked to meet with council members to discuss the revocation of their licenses. All attended, even bringing with them signed testimony from neighbors in favor of them keeping their businesses.

“I have a family and own considerable property here, also in Seattle. I do not object to the saloons on this street or any other part of the city if they are only conducted, as they ought to be, one o’clock is late enough. The Saloons on this street ought to have the same privileges they have in other parts of the city, the licenses my be high enough, but any man who wants to drink ought to be able to consume all he could hold before one oclock in the morning.”Joseph Huber, contractor and builder

“I don’t see what our city council are thinking about unless they want to compel us to annex to Seattle, how do they think we can afford to pay for street improvements, County, State, and School tax if we derive no revenue from our property, I am a heavy tax payer and own considerable property on Estelle Street, part of which is leased for legitimate saloon purposes, and I do not approve of business carried on in any other manner.”Mrs. Annie Horton

Even with compelling testimony and petitions in support, all the roadhouses on Estelle (Carleton Avenue) Street would not be granted renewals of their liquor licenses. It did not help that the rest of Washington State had gone almost dry in the last statewide elections either. It would be the administration under Mayor Slocum who would be vexed with convincing the public that annexation would be a savior or downfall of the city. But the question of annexation would have to be settled at a later date.

This new administration inherited a number of problems. Income was down; expenditures were up. Roosevelt (South Beacon) Hill lacked water and the new Maple School had been built but could not be occupied as a result. The Georgetown School was overcrowded and high school students were forced to pay tuition to attend school in Seattle. Proposals for paving Rainier (Airport Way) Avenue with brick were being urged; the city was asking for a railroad flagman at Colvin (Graham) Street and for $2,800 for improvements on Swift Avenue. Road improvements to be made in the hill district would cost the city $56,000.

Annexation would bring water and streetcars to Roosevelt Hill. Voting before the census would allow Georgetown to be counted within Seattle and bring much needed funding for the improvements the council was seeking. The council voted unanimously to set the annexation vote to March 29, which Mayor Slocum indicating he did not want to sidestep the issue. But not all council members supported annexation. CouncilmemberBertoldi declared he had always opposed but did not believe in sidestepping. “Let’s hold the elections now, vote on it and let the city attorney advise it”. New Councilman Gehring stated he did not know what to do and asked the City Attorney to advise them. Councilmen Ennis believed it was too soon, yet Georgetown would be ready in two or three years, asking, “ What do we want to help out the census of Seattle for?”

The Election Day was clear and mild. Beautiful weather, combined with all the saloons closed, was bringing out the voters in a steady stream. More than 80% of the votes cast early in the day favored annexation, and anti-annexationists were reportedly throwing up their hands and scrambling to get on the bandwagon. Annexationists were reported to have $6oo ready to wager on the result, but could not find a bettor.

When the polls closed at 8pm, 389 votes were for annexation, 238 against. When the votes were tallied and announced, the brewery whistle blew, many voters came out on the streets to rejoice. “It was a fair, clean election,” said Mayor Slocum, “and I am glad it is over.”

But it was not over in regards to an historic wager placed two weeks before the election. Georgetown Councilman Conner would give anti-annexation Councilman Hale a ride in a wheelbarrow from City Hall to Junction (Dawson) Street and return.Conner chose the roughest part of the street. Hale, a bronco rider in his younger days said he’d never had a ride like that. It required all hands to stay on the barrow and to keep his hat straight. Community cheers were bipartisan.

Today, in March 2010 we can look back on the last century and speculate what our community could have become should the anti-annexation voters had won that election? Some say Georgetown died that day when it annexed to Seattle, and others say the water district improvements saved the community. What we can all agree upon is Georgetown has had significant changes in the last 100 years. Arguably, some of those changes have been good and others not so good.

We are soliciting votes now and you can cast your ballot at Coliman Mexican Restaurant or the Carleton Avenue Grocery. How many people, 100 years later, will vote for annexation?

The tally of votes will be announced and prizes will be awarded for the best hat and best decorated wheelbarrow. We hope to set in motion the desire to learn more about the early days of Georgetown, when it was a town.

When: Sunday, March 28th – 3pm
Where: Old City Hall at 13th and Bailey

What to bring: A sense of humor, a decorated wheelbarrow, and a decorated hat.
Motivation: Learn more about history and win prizes!

* Some homework for you, what is 2010 name of Grand Avenue?

Come tell us on March 28th!

References:
The Georgetown Story, that was a town 1904-1910 and the Georgetown City Archives

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Welcome to the Blog

You have stumbled across the blog for Friends of Georgetown History, a group based out of Seattle, WA dedicated to the preservation of the Georgetown neighborhood. Through research and storytelling, the Friends of Georgetown history have quite a few historical facts to share about the eclectic hood of Georgetown, home to the original Rainier Brewery. Enjoy, share and comment - this is how the stories get told!

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Quick Facts

Georgetown was incorporated as a city in Washington State on January 8, 1904. It was annexed to the city of Seattle on March 29, 1910.

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The Georgetown Haunted History TourOctober 17th, 2013
Haunted History tour is here!
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