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Archives Find of the Month: Unsanitary Board of Health Headquarters, 1904

condemnsIn 1904, the following article appeared in the Seattle Times:

CONDEMNS OWN QUARTERS Health Office Complains of Unsanitary Condition of Yesler Way Site Asks to Have City Houses Vacated – Board’s Headquarters Unsanitary

Worse than many private houses condemned by the health department, is the judgment of the city health officer, regarding the Board of Health’s headquarters, located at Fifth Avenue and Yesler Way. Included in this verdict are the three city houses, located in the same block and fronting on Terrace Street.

The health department asks that these houses be vacated. A communication has been addressed to R.H. Thomson, superintendent of buildings, bridges and wharves. A copy of the letter so addressed, on file at the health office, contains the following comment:

Health Office Unhealthy The health office itself is in a most unsanitary condition owing to condition of the walls, which have not been kalsomined or papered in fifteen years, and it is doubtful if the building was ever painted. When ladies honor the department with their presence, as they are often compelled to do to make complaints, they throw up their hands in holy horror on account of the conditions.

Garbage is dumped in the vacant space west of the health office, in rear of Nos. 416, 417 and 419 Terrace Street, by the tenants and by the public in general. Plumbing in these three buildings is defective in every detail. The health department earnestly suggest that these three buildings be vacated. We close houses every week that are less unsanitary than these.

Office Should Be Sanitary It is supposed that this office should be a criterion for the public to copy after, but whenever they do so we have good reasons to enforce the various sanitary ordinances. It would be a great help to this department could it have the entire top floor of the building we now occupy. The amount of desk room and air space we have had the past few years has been very limited.

 

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