The development of towns was rapid following Washington statehood in
1889 as many entrepreneurs put their money into industries and
businesses that shaped the Pacific Northwest.
Seattle, Tacoma and Portland were the region’s largest cities, but
investors, looking for promising land at cheaper prices, sought new
locations. Situated a short distance north of Seattle, a peninsula
located between the waters of Port Gardner Bay and the Snohomish River
held promise. Speculators suggested that James J. Hill’s railroad would
first touch west-coast water here, offering easy trade with Asia.
Lumberman Henry Hewitt of Tacoma convinced eastern investors, including
John D. Rockefeller, to place money in a town they planned to call
Everett. Development at the town site began in the summer of 1891, and
by the following spring, the city was a thriving boomtown.
The firm of R. King and D. W. Baskerville arrived on the Everett scene
in January of 1892, in time to witness and record images of the chaotic
development that was erupting at the west end of Jim Hill’s railroad.
Through their lenses, the ragged edges of frontier industrialization
were shaped into appealing glimpses of rambunctious human spirit, often
balancing the disorder of their selected scenes with an elegant and
Few photographers who were to follow
captured Everett with equal spark, and
it is surprising that this partnership
seems to have lasted for only a few
months. The firm was officially
dissolved by mutual consent on June 8,
l892, an event announced in the Everett
Herald the following day. The newspaper
item stated that Baskerville would
continue the business, but by the time
the first city directory was compiled
late that fall, he had departed as well.
King is known to have been active in
Watertown, South Dakota during the
1880s, and it is likely that he worked
in other parts of Washington after his
Everett stay. But the extant work of the
King and Baskerville Studio seems to be
limited to the fine and excellent photos
taken of Everett and vicinity during a
short six-month period.
So powerful are these images that they have been saved and treasured in
several forms over the years. Views were assembled into special
scrapbooks, and early residents kept individual mounted prints from this
series. Photographer John Juleen copied some during the l920s for use in
William Whitefields’s “History of Snohomish County”.
The Everett Public Library added copies to its collection in l974, and
in the 1980s purchased the original glass negatives from Everett antique
dealer Bill Skinner. Mr. Skinner had purchased the negatives from a
collector in San Jose, California.
Linking King and Baskerville to these
remarkable pictures of the Everett Boom
was a slow process. From 1890s
newspapers, it was known that J. H.
Blome, a photographer from San Jose,
worked in Everett from April through
November of 1892 and that he acquired
some of the King and Baskerville
negatives at the time of their
departure. It is assumed that some of
the glass negatives purchased by Mr.
Skinner were the work of Blome.
Format and style, however, were the keys
to King and Baskerville’s work. They
used a 5 x 8 inch plate that is slightly
panoramic and was known at the time as a
“Boudoir” print when trimmed and mounted
on a 5 x 8 card. Prints were made by the
Printing Out method; exposure to
sunlight produced the image without
developer. Images were gold toned,
producing a rich, warm brown color.
Prints in the photo albums were
carefully dated, and newspaper research
verified a correspondence of these dates
with the known activity of the studio.
Gradually mounted prints in the series
were found bearing the King and
Baskerville Studio stamp on the reverse,
indicating that the firm was responsible
for the more than one hundred 5 x 8
views of Everett and Snohomish County
taken during the first months of 1892.
No portraits have been found of either photographer, though it is
curious to note that the same individual appears in a dozen of their
views taken. It is a reasonable assumption that this person was an
assistant or possibly King or Baskerville.
What makes a series of photographs
enduring can be analyzed, but in the end
it is often hard to determine. Certainly
the photographers had an eye for balance
and composition, and they understood
their craft. But their art surpasses
technical achievement, making us believe
we are seeing more than emulsion on
glass. Time and again we return to them
as if they were new.