Ghosts Are Real
Driving up the I5 corridor, my husband turns to me and says,” Did you know that 46% of Americans polled believe in ghosts?!” … “And?” I reply.
You see, he knows that I believe in the simple fact that ghosts exist and, although he doesn’t recognize it, he does too. I know this because we both believe in the ability of places, especially buildings, to possess qualities and character which can be explained no other way.
JAS has found its way to inhabiting several of these places over its 30 years designing & building our little design-build business. Perhaps lured by their texture and depth, the kind of marks that only time and use can leave on a place, or unwittingly enchanted by the spirit and energy left from the many ‘befores’.
The Edgewater Grocery is just such a place.
Beginning in the 1890s, a cow pasture on Wallingford Hill at the south end of Wallingford Avenue and Edgewater Street (now N 36th) became what was to be known for a brief 25 years, as Edgewater. Unlike Fremont and Latona, Edgewater had no school or church in the neighborhood but did have a mom & pop grocery, a stable, and a three-hole golf course. The land along Wallingford Avenue was cleared of trees using blasts of dynamite, logs skidded down the dirt roads to be milled along Lake Union, and modest wood frame houses were built – many still surviving today.
The Edgewater Grocery, built in 1913 along a new streetcar line which ran along Wallingford Avenue, was typical of commercial nodes being developed along these routes. Small grocery stores were central elements. They allowed residents who had begun working in the revitalized downtown after the fire of 1889 to travel to work on the streetcars and pick up groceries on the walk home from their stop. Built as a corner store (rather than converted from a house) the building was originally conceived with space on the second floor for the shop owner and family to live above.
Though no historic photographs have been found of the original building, the bones of its earliest days were certainly intact when we found our way there, looking for space to hold the fledgling JAS. When Joe met Ted, the building owner, in 1992, little did we know its spirit-ed past or the future it would hold.
Between being a turn of the century corner grocery store and headquarters for a young design-build firm, 3540 Wallingford Avenue North was home to a truly quirky character named Alden Byce. The building was home to many of Alden’s musical interests both personal and professional, including “Al’s Old Calliope” and a Johnson Viking Ranger Wurlitzer organ (which had come from Garden of Allah – a legendary gay bar in 1940s Pioneer Square). Alden, a musician, ham radio operator, organist, and calliope player, passed away in 1981.
JAS has called this wonderful building home in as many ways as one can imagine. It has been our cabinet shop, design offices, storage facility, epic party place, it has housed more than a handful of JASers and been a gathering place for characters and kindred spirits whether inside its walls or outside on The Bench.
The design-build business, as an old friend said recently , ”… is about the people people!”. The same could be said of places and, by association, buildings. The people and characters who pass through, make marks, leave traces, infuse flavor …. Can all be felt in the spirit of place (whether you believe in ghosts or not). Buildings such as ours tell you things. Sometimes, they even tell you what they want to be.
Just as a place finds its way and personality through time and use, our “little” residential design-build firm which began as 3 people and a truck, has grown into a diverse company of over one hundred craftspeople with a variety of talents. Grown organically as well as intentionally, JAS’s evolution has been supported by the old Edgewater Grocery while we have also contributed layers to its history.
Looking back at JAS cabinet shop photos from 1992 … drafting tables and designers in the next room, or upstairs, or across the street when we began to outgrow the space, you can see the energy and the spirit. The people and the building creating an alchemical moment.
Compelled by a longtime client & friend of JAS to establish an interior design & furnishings studio within the company, 2015 marked another moment of creative growth. Having never considered engaging with the fine-tuning of our homes through in-house interior design, the notion of being able to utilize not only our understanding of space, function, construction, and craft, but now having added the ingredients of furniture, textiles, and art to our repertoire, we began to see ways of making space which could also include fusing the new and refreshed with meaningful personal objects or artifacts.
Since relocating our cabinet shop to larger digs in Fremont, we have refreshed and updated the old grocery store- calliope warehouse – cabinet shop – design studio – party venue – neighborhood rest spot. In the same soulful and spirit-filled building which has seen so many people-people and inspired countless combinations of creativity and making… we have created the opportunity for another magical transformation.
The JAS Corner Store – an eclectic and thoughtfully curated collection of homewares, hardware, textiles, lighting, handmade JAS furniture, old things, new things, curiosities, and inspirations.
Come by for a visit.JAS Corner Store