AKA: Madison Park Pavilion, Madison Park, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures - amusement parks

Designers: [unspecified]

Dates: constructed 1890, demolished 1914

2 stories

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East Blaine Street and 43rd Avenue East
Madison Park, Seattle, WA 98112

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Building History

In 1861, lawyer John J. McGilvra (1827-1903), whom historian Junius Rochester referred to as "a transplanted Illinois resident who once practiced law in association with Abraham Lincoln," arrived in the Washington Territory to serve as its US Attorney. The job required extensive travel in WA, WY, MT and ID, prompting him to leave it after only four years. Eager to set down roots after this peripatetic position, McGilvra spent about $2,100 to obtain 420 acres northeast of Seattle in 1864. He was the first lawyer to settle in the area, and he developed a strong loyalty to his adopted home. McGilvra advocated actively for Seattle's growth. This was especially true in matters pertaining to railroad service to the city, often litigating in opposition to the powerful Northern Pacific Railway which favored Tacoma as a terminus point. From 1865 until 1890, he developed a very busy legal partnership (culminating in the firm of McGilvra, Blaine and DeVries) and also served in various political offices. To connect his residence, "Laurel Shade," with Seattle's central business district, where he maintained his offices, he contributed $1,500 to build what became Madison Street in 1864-1865. In 1880, he donated 24 acres for use as a public park, and offered other portions of his property for real estate development. Ten years later, to trigger development further, he was a prominent investor in the Madison Street Cable Railway, which inaugurated service to this northeast section of the city.

Spurred by the inception of mass transit service to the area, George Kimball Beede developed this Madison Park recreation center, a combined bathing spot, canoe rental business, and performance venue. Beede staged a variety of shows here, from band concerts under the complex's two gazebos to dramatic performances in the theatre. The Russell Jewell Dramatic Company staged the first theatrical show on 07/26/1890. The theatre's auditorium accommodated 1,400, but seating could be expanded; one report indicated that "Grand stand seats were erected on the lake shore to accommodate 2,000 persons," during the Tivoli Theatre Company's 08/04/1895 production of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera, "H.M.S. Pinafore." (See Howard Grant, Story of Seattle's Early Theatres, [Seattle: University Book Store, 1934], p. 34.) Beede's Madison Park Pavilion had a hipped and gabled roof, with four tall pyramidal turrets placed at four corners. Seen from the front, a porch stretched the building's length. In the center, steps led up to the main entrance. Above it, a gable carried on posts with decorative brackets further underscored the main entryway. On the center of the roof, a switchback configuration of stairs led to a porch cupola, allowing for sweeping views of Lake Washington, sheltered from the sun by a tall pyramidal roof. According to Seattle theatre historian Eugene Clinton Elliott, Beede's Madison Park Pavilion operated under this name from 1890-1894, and as the "Madison Park Theatre" from 1895-1898. Between 1895-1898, the building's gable ends, had the words "Madison Park Theatre" painted. (See "Eugene Clinton Elliott, A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, Appendix I, [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944], p.66.) This entertainment venue closed c. 1898, and the space was reused as a beer hall. Madison Park became the "White City Park" during the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYPE). "White City" was the term applied to the Beaux-Arts ensemble of Neo-classical buildings erected at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, IL.

Building Notes

By the 1880s and 1890s, a number of Seattle's bartenders/saloonkeepers--such as John Cort (1859-1929), John Considine (1868-1943) and George Kimball Beede (born 07/06/1844 in Farmington, ME-d. 02/13/1900 in Seattle, WA)-- had also started theatres; many owned what were known as "box houses," saloons that featured live entertainment to keep customers drinking. Between 1885-1887, George Beede, operated restaurants and saloons in Seattle; by 1890, he ran Beede's Cafe in Seattle's toney Butler Block, and had branched out to build the Madison Street Pavilion on Lake Washington's western shore. George's brother, Albert T. Beede (born c. 1845 in ME), managed the operation. George and Albert's father, Thomas Beede (born c. 1816 in NH), was a successful merchant living in Kankakee, IL, in 1860; it appears that the family lived in some comfort, as they inhabited a relatively expensive property (valued at $3,000) and could afford an Irish servant. George lived in Antioch, CA, in 1868, working as a merchant. In 1870, the brothers resided in the same house in Fort Harker, KS; Albert owned a restaurant and George continued as a merchant who had accumulated a personal fortune of $10,000. (Albert's estate was worth only $100.) George K. Beede settled in Seattle by at least 04/1885 when he first appeared in the WA Territorial Census.

Following Seattle's Fire in 1889, he invested in two theatre operations: the Madison Street Theatre, erected hastily in a temporary Toklas and Singerman clothing store, and the Madison Street Pavilion. Like all of Seattle's theatre owners, he lost a great deal of money in his theatres during the three years that followed the Depression of 1893; following railroad bankruptcies and a glut on the silver markets, Wall Street panicked during the winter and spring; perhaps to avoid debts, Beede applied for a passport in the summer of 1893, indicating that he hoped to visit Guatemala. In 1894, he had moved back to Antioch to work as a hotelkeeper. He lived in Seattle at the time of his death in 1900.

According to Polk's Seattle Directory Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1891, Thomas Beede resided at the Madison Street Pavilion.(See Polk's Seattle Directory Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1891, p. 154.)


Beede's Madison Street Pavilion burned in 1914.

PCAD id: 15551