In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, the protagonist longs to be in the company of the writers and artists of The Lost Generation. Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Gertrude Stein, Picasso, Dali, Man Ray. Who can blame him? We all want to find that time-machine that takes us back to another era. Without one, we have to make do with our imagination. It’s one of the reasons I love old buildings – time capsules right out in the open.
The Woman’s Century Club Little Theatre is close to Joe Bar, one of my favorite places to grab coffee. The building is fantastic. Red brick, large doors, framed windows, and character. The Seattle skyline is changing daily, but there are still buildings that remind one of Seattle’s frontier past. I’m not a student of Seattle’s history, but I imagine it as a crossroads of hunters, trappers, explorers, seafarers, Scandinavian fishermen, and prospectors. One need only look past the cranes and construction sites for evidence of a pre-Amazon past.
I don’t think the Little Theatre maintains an active association with the Woman’s Century Club. I do know that it is being repurposed and renovated, and I have overheard some of the construction workers discussing the commercial nature of the project in general terms, but I haven’t looked into who will be moving in. I’m more interested in what it used to be.
According to its website, the Woman’s Century Club “is a social club focused on women’s history, the arts, education, and community service.” The website adds that “it was founded in 1891 by suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt, a protege of Susan B. Anthony.” Now I’d like to read more about Ms. Carrie Chapman Catt. It’s 2017, and as the recent Women’s Marches suggest, she might slide easily into a conversation between women today. (On a side note, as soon as I read suffragist I thought of David Bowie’s Suffragette City and wondered if the words are related. They are.)
I shot the photograph with a Fujifilm X100T. I took several shots trying to get the symmetry right. As luck would have it, my persistence paid off. As I was taking a final shot, the door creaked open, and out walked a construction worker who was likely on his way for lunch or a coffee break. My first instinct was to feel bad for startling him. Nobody likes opening a door and being confronted by a camera. But as I nodded and apologized, I silently thanked the gentleman for turning a straight-forward photograph into a much more interesting image.
[Closing Note: I try not to get too caught up with grammar, but I’d be lying if I claimed I didn’t think about it. The sign above the door does not have an apostrophe in Woman’s, whereas the official website does. I wondered if that was a financial decision, a technical (sign-making) decision, faded paint, or a simple typo.]