New to our Digital Collections: Early Seattle Glass Plate Negatives

Curious to explore rarely seen photographs from the life of a Seattle family from over 100 years ago? Now you can with 184 photographs from our Early Seattle Glass Plate Negative Collection, recently digitized and added to our online offerings.

The collection features images of Seattle homes and buildings, the town of Index, the Cedar Falls Power Plant, and the Sunset Mine from about 1909 to 1912. All the images are housed on fragile glass plates which required careful handling to be scanned. The collection appears to be the work of at least two photographers. From captions provided with the negatives and some extra research work, we believe at least one of the photographers was Walter F. Piper, son of A.W. Piper, an early Seattle pioneer. (We actually have another photo of A.W. Piper with Walter when he was a boy in our digital collections.) The photos taken by Piper offer a rare detailed views of his home, family, friends, and business.

Piper lived at 1504 18th Ave. (a house that still stands today) with his mother, Wilhemina (Minnie), and two sisters, Matilda and Lillian. Photographs of the home and the women can be seen throughout the collection. Piper served as vice president of Piper & Taft Inc., a sporting goods store which provided supplies such as baseball uniforms and fishing supplies at their store on the corner of 2nd Avenue and Spring Street. Several photographs in the collection feature local baseball and football teams, possibly in gear from Piper’s store. The collection also includes early shots of what we believe is the first Dugdale Park (also called Yesler Athletic Field) located at 12th and Yesler. It preceded the second Dugdale Park (located on Rainer) and later Sick’s Stadium as the home of some of Seattle’s early organized baseball leagues. Piper’s brother O.A. Piper served as assistant City Engineer which would account for the photographs of the City-owned power plant at Cedar Falls and City Light substations.

Piper passed away in 1914, shortly after many of the photographs were taken.  He was fondly remembered in a Seattle Times article that appeared on September 20, 1914: “In the death of Walter F. Piper, son of the late A.W. Piper, pioneer, Seattle has lost one of its younger business men who has been closely identified with the growth of this city. Educated in the public schools, he entered business and was recognized as a master mechanic of exceptional ability and genius. Upright in character, of broad sympathy and generosity, he was esteemed alike by his friends and acquaintances. He was the junior member of Piper & Taft and until his health failed, active in all its interests. Born in Victoria B.C., June 27, 1872, he was one of a sturdy band of boys who grew to manhood in the then small town of Seattle, and as one of the “boys” as a manly man and a good citizen, he held his place among his fellows.”

Want to see more of Seattle circa 1910? Browse across our digital collections by decade to find maps, postcards, periodicals and photographs.

~ posted by Jade D.

One thought on “New to our Digital Collections: Early Seattle Glass Plate Negatives”

  1. Great examples of early Seattle. Photo number 35 appears to be the. Monmouth Apartments at 20th and Yesler. My grandmother lived there.

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