Have you ever driven past the Eddie McAbee entrance to Carkeek Park off of NW 100th Place and wondered who Eddie McAbee is? Perhaps the name sounded familiar: Didn’t a guy named McAbee build a bunch of stuff around here?
Eddie McAbee was in fact the son of F.R. “Dick” McAbee, the prolific builder who, in the mid-1950s, developed and built much of what we see now on lower Crown Hill between Holman Road and NW 100th Place, including what used to be Art’s Plaza, now QFC. The Eddie McAbee park entrance land was originally part of the 105 acres on the east slope of Crown Hill purchased by Dick McAbee in 1945. The duplexes you see at the park entrance are McAbee built.
Dick McAbee was a self-made man. He was $10,000 in debt at the start of the Depression because of an employer who skipped town. It took him ten years, but he paid back every cent. He went on to build a real estate empire and a sterling reputation in the local business community.
August 22, 1956 was the day the housewives of Crown Hill had been waiting for: The Plaza Shopping Center (a.k.a. Art’s Plaza) on 6th Ave. N.W. and Holman Road was having its grand opening. High on its tower, the iconic Art’s globe was spinning and there were gifts for everyone: fold-up plastic rain bonnets for the ladies, keychain screwdrivers for the men, and balloons for the kiddies.
The new 40,000-square-foot shopping center featured an Art’s Food Center, a Marketime Drugs, the Fiesta Buffet, Noonan’s Apparel, and a post office all under one roof. The massive shopping center was the brainchild of F.R. “Dick” McAbee, the prolific contractor whose scores of construction projects completed in the mid-1900s still have an impact on Crown Hill’s character, identity, and appearance.
The centerpiece of the development was the locally owned Art’s Food Center. Designed to appeal to the modern shopper, it featured a computerized meat scale, moving belts at the checkout stand, wide aisles, and 140 feet of frozen food cases housing the largest frozen food selection in the city.
The new Crown Hill location was the fourth grocery store for owner Art Case. Case may have been drawn to modern innovations, but he never lost sight of the value of his employees. He offered them respect and an attractive profit sharing plan, and most stayed with him for years.
On the crisp, clear afternoon of December 7, 1924, ships passing through Puget Sound on their way to Elliott Bay were treated to a surprise: On a ridge high above the Sound, just north of Seattle, a new 600-square-foot American flag had been hoisted. The impressive symbol, meant to be the “first sight of Seattle” for ships bound for Elliott Bay, marked the official opening of the new Olympic Golf and County Club.
Golf Club Manager Douglas McLeod McMillin and Club President William M. Bolcom had the honor of hoisting the flag for the first time to the top of its 118-foot pole next to the new club house located at about 20th Ave. NW and NW 89th Street. The flag’s inauguration took place in front of about a hundred spectators, many of whom were visiting the new golf course for the first time.
Work on the new course began in May of 1924 on the picturesque site. Architect Francis James actively oversaw the work, and while Bolcom was publicly dedicated to opening the course to golfers in late fall, James was less convinced that the deadline could be met. But in late October of 1924, the new course was unofficially opened to the public – ahead of schedule.
The 18-hole course, at the time just north of the Seattle city limits, was an L-shaped property that stretched east to west from 15th Ave. NW to 24th Ave. NW. Its longest north-to-south line was on its west side, where it stretched from NW 95th Street to NW 85th Street.
Bing’s Favorite Swing
The course was designed to challenge seasoned golfers, and it attracted many legends and pioneers of the sport: Tommy Armour, aka “The Silver Scot,” winner of the 1927 U.S. Open and the 1931 British Open; Macdonald “Mac” Smith, whose full-swing technique Bing Crosby admired; Johnny Farrell, winner of the 1928 U.S. Open; and Horton Smith, who in 1934 was the first winner of the new Augusta National Invitation Tournament, later named The Masters Tournament.
Perhaps the club’s most notable visitor was the charismatic and impeccably dressed Walter “The Haig” Hagen, five-time PGA Championship winner who, in 1922, was the first native-born American to win the British open. But more important to some local fans, in 1929 Hagen broke the Olympic Golf Club mark by scoring a 68 while paired with Horton Smith in an exhibition match against the club professional and an ace amateur.
If you were to stand facing north at the intersection of 8th Ave. NW and NW 105th today, you would see rows of ramblers built in the early 1950s during the post-war building boom. You would hear traffic from Holman Road and Greenwood Ave. N. But years ago, my parents, Art and Betty Jacobsen, lived in a quiet farmhouse on a dairy farm at this very location.
In the early 1940s, Art and his older brother, Chris, owned and operated the Pedersen Dairy, formerly called Puritan Dairy Farm. Its southeast boundary was roughly NW 105th and 8th Ave. NW. It stretched for about 20 acres – up the hill to the west, and north to the current border of Carkeek Park.
Art had moved to the Seattle area from Minnesota in 1934 at the age of 19. He joined Chris, who had already been in the area for two years.
In the late 1930s, the two brothers worked for their uncle, Harold Vikelyst, who owned the Puritan Dairy Farm. They met every morning at their uncle’s house, which was located at 10028 12th Ave. NW. The house, which was built in 1928, still stands today.