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The Columbia Laundry

RVHS Photo #93.1.707

This photo was taken in 1911, four years after Columbia City and Rainier Valley were annexed by the city of Seattle. The building was located on the northeast corner of Rainier Avenue and Angeline Street, across Rainier Avenue from the Columbia Library and directly across the alley from the Masonic Lodge building. In the foreground are the streetcar tracks between the wood planks that paved Rainier Avenue at the time.

There were two businesses that shared the building. The Columbia Laundry and Walter H. Sewell, plumber. As the sign on the building indicates, the Columbia Laundry was in the "Dyeing and Cleaning" business. 

Columbia Laundry, as was customary for businesses in those days, had a pickup and delivery service as evidenced by the wagon, the driver and the team of horses in front of the building. To the right of the horses are the employees of the laundry, posing for the photographer. The woman third from the left is Julia Brannon.

With the arrival of the automobile, the site was soon to become the first of several auto-related businesses. In 1913 Rainier Auto Parts, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bianca, and Ed Welch’s Columbia Garage, occupied the buildings.  Other auto related businesses over the years were a Standard Oil Service Station, Haugen's Columbia Garage, Calpet Service Station and a Texaco Service Station. The site is now the Columbia City Branch of the Washington Federal Saving & Loan.

At the far left in the background you can see just the corner of the Nichols Flats, an apartment building built by Ralph D. Nichols, an early day fuel dealer in Rainier Valley. He was also Columbia City's attorney and was drafted by the citizens to run for a seat on the Seattle City Council. He admittedly didn’t want the job but he was elected despite his objections. 

His building, Nichols Flats, was a popular residence for eligible bachelors in the early days. It is now referred to as the Angeline Apartments. After a recent fire it was completely rebuilt. 

Days Gone By 

South District Journal 5/9/2001

By Buzz Anderson


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