AKA: San Francisco Store #1, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - stores

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1875

view all images ( of 1 shown)

1st Avenue
Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 98104

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map
This first store stood on Front Street (later renamed 1st Avenue) near Cherry Street.


Prussian-Jewish immigrant Ferdinand Toklas (1845-1924) immgrated to the US in 1863, first settling in San Francisco, the West Coast's main metropolis of the 19th century. Toklas relocated to Seattle by the mid-1870s, when he began a clothing business called the "San Francisco Store" in Seattle, WA, with partners Paul Singerman (1847-1915) and Hyman Auerbach, according to the Jewish Museum of the American West. The Seattle City Directory of 1876 (p. 86) indicated that this first "general merchandise" store was located at Front (later renamed 1st Avenue) and Cherry Streets. Over the years, the Toklas, Singerman and Company Store may have occupied perhaps six or seven different locations between 1875-1892, and was Seattle's most successful retail menswear business of that period. Singerman and Toklas sold their business to an employee, J.B. MacDougall, and his partner, Henry C. Southwick, in 1891 or 1892; the pair went on to operate the MacDougall-Southwick Department Store, a Seattle institution that lasted until 1964..

Building History

According to the 1876 Seattle City Directory, Ferdinand Toklas lived in the New England Hotel, when he founded his clothing store. Of the store's three partners, he was the only one recorded as living in the city at this time, although a "W. Singerman," a seller of general merchandise, lived at the German House Hotel. In 1876, there were other seven other clothiers in the city, including the business of A.S. Pinkham and M.C. Saxe, located on the corner of Commercial (later renamed 1st Avenue South) and Washington Streets, and the Arcade, a store on Front Street, owned by W.F. Boyd, Gamma Poncin, and F.A. Young. All of these stores was clustered nearby to one another on Front and Commercial Streets. The San Francisco Store (aka Toklas, Singerman and Company) operated for only a brief period at its first Front Street and Cherry Street location; Singerman, as per the Seattle City Directory of 1879 (p. 65), had moved to a site on the west side of Commercial Street near Washington Street.

Building Notes

Ferdinand Toklas and his wife, Emelia Levinsky (1856-1898),were the parents of two children, one of whom was Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967), the celebrated partner of expatriate writer/art connoisseur Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), whose family had also resided in the Bay Area during the 1890s.


PCAD id: 19497