VIDEOS: Visit restored Admiral totem pole at our museum!

June 6th, 2014

2014 06-06 totem group6iExactly 1,257 people are shown in this group photo. An estimated 1,300 attended the event. To download a high-resolution version of this photo, click on it to get a larger version, then right-click and “save as” on your computer.


Enormous crowd witnesses unveiling of restored
Admiral totem pole
at our Log House Museum

Ceremony draws school children, mayor, executive, Duwamish Tribe

The colorful totem pole that welcomed residents and tourists alike at the city’s Belvedere View Point Park in the Admiral neighborhood from 1966 to 2006 has been fully restored and is on display at the Southwest Seattle Historical Society’s “Birthplace of Seattle” Log House Museum.

The public unveiling ceremony featuring public officials, the Duwamish tribe and the student bodies of both Alki and Schmitz Park elementary schools took place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 6, 2014, outside the museum at 3003 61st Ave. S.W. The event drew 1,300 people, including more than 900 elementary-age students.

Immediately following the ceremony, we opened an exhibit in the museum’s small gallery called “Reaching the Sky: Totem Tales of West Seattle.”


[This time-lapse video by volunteer Brad Chrisman condenses about two hours of activity into less than five minutes! Watch for the rivers of Schmitz Park and Alki elementary students entering the scene prior to the unveiling.]


[This video provides glimpses of the June 6, 2014, unveiling ceremony for the Admiral totem pole at our museum. It is contributed by Mark Jaroslaw of Avenue Productions. Please return later this month to see video of the complete half-hour ceremony, as videotaped from three vantage points.]


See additional related videos by scrolling to the bottom of this page.


Media coverage of the unveiling

Seattle Times, June 7, 2014, Alan Berner

West Seattle Blog, June 6, 2014 (late), Tracy Record and Patrick Sand

West Seattle Blog, June 6, 2014 (early), Tracy Record and Patrick Sand

West Seattle Herald, June 6, 2014, Patrick Robinson and David Rosen

Seattle Times, June 3, 2014, Bettina Hansen

West Seattle Blog, June 3, 2014, Tracy Record and Patrick Sand

West Seattle Herald, June 3, 2014, Patrick Robinson

West Seattle Herald Facebook video, June 3, 2014, Patrick Robinson


Background on the Admiral totem pole

Carved by Boeing engineers Michael Morgan and Bob Fleischman from a log harvested from Schmitz Park, the totem pole stood at Belvedere View Point Park from 1966 to 2006. It is a replica of a totem pole carved at the turn of the 20th century by natives of the coastal island region of British Columbia and brought to Belvedere View Point Park 75 years ago, in 1939, by West Seattleite and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop owner J.E. “Daddy” Standley.

Recognizing the deteriorated condition of the 1966 totem pole, Seattle Parks and Recreation removed it in 2006 and replaced it with a uniquely designed and unpainted story pole carved by a descendant of Chief Seattle.

The restored 1966 totem pole stands next to the museum in its native-plant garden, facing east along the 61st Avenue Southwest arterial, just one block south of Alki Beach, where a party of white settlers landed on Nov. 13, 1851, and encountered the native Duwamish Tribe and the city of Seattle was founded.

4Culture logoTo coincide with the unveiling of the 1966 totem pole, we launched a new exhibit, “Reaching the Sky: Totem Tales of West Seattle,” inside our museum. We also are producing a traveling exhibit and brochure about the peninsula’s totem poles. These interpretive activities are generously funded by 4Culture.

For several years, the historical society has contracted and worked with Artech Fine Art Services of Seattle to restore the 1966 totem pole to its original and colorful glory. Major contributors to the restoration include Artech, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen.


Dignitaries who unveiled the pole

The June 6 ceremony drew 29 special guests who formally unveiled the pole:

* Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who grew up across the street from the museum.

* King County Executive and West Seattle native and resident Dow Constantine.

* Marcy Johnsen, board president, Southwest Seattle Historical Society

* Duwamish Tribal Chair Cecile Hansen, who blessed the pole on behalf of the tribe.

* Brian Hawksford, representing Seattle City Council member and West Seattle resident Tom Rasmussen.

* King County Council member and West Seattle resident Joe McDermott.

* Greg Nickels, former Seattle mayor, the only West Seattle resident to serve as mayor.

* Former Seattle City Council member and former West Seattleite Phyllis Lamphere.

* Christopher Williams, acting superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation.

* Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Jose Banda, and Israel Vela, executive director of West Seattle schools.

* 4Culture Executive Director Jim Kelly.

* Diane Morgan, Martha Morgan and Michael Morgan Jr., wife, daughter and son, respectively, of Michael Morgan, one of the pole’s two carvers in 1966.

* Kim Fleischman and Todd Fleischman, sons of Robert Fleischman, one of the pole’s two carvers in 1966.

* Dick Barnecut and Ken Lowthian, West Seattle civic leaders who helped organize the pole’s original dedication at Belvedere View Point Park on Aug. 10, 1966.

* Vicki Schmitz and son Dietrich Schmitz, representing the family that donated Schmitz Park to the city. (The log for the 1966 pole came from Schmitz Park.)

* Joe James, grandson of West Seattle resident J.E. “Daddy” Standley, first proprietor of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, who installed the first Admiral totem pole in 1939.

* Sandy Walsh and Bonnie Ward, representing the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Washington, which provided strong financial support for the restoration.

* Alki Elementary School Principal Shannon Stanton and student Jacob Howery.

* Schmitz Park Elementary School Principal Gerrit Kischner and student Jesus LaFrambois.

* Gail Morris, Native American Education Services Manager, Seattle Public Schools.


History of the Admiral totem pole

The totem pole unveiled on June 6, 2014, is the second of three totem poles that have graced Belvedere View Point Park, at the crest of Admiral Way in the north end of West Seattle, since 1939. The history of the three is both prominent and iconographic.

“When we make presentations to community groups, we often ask what served as Seattle’s Space Needle before the Space Needle, and audiences respond almost instinctively,” says Clay Eals, executive director of our organization. “The answer, of course, is the totem pole, and for 75 years the city’s most emblematic totem pole has stood at the Belvedere View Point Park.”

In its three incarnations, a totem pole has anchored this sliver of an auto turnout, serving as a sentinel over one of the most popular views of the downtown skyline. That a totem pole has framed this postcard panorama is fitting, given that West Seattle is the “Birthplace of Seattle,” where white settlers arrived in 1851 and engaged with Native Americans who had made the Duwamish peninsula their home for thousands of years.

The first totem pole at Belvedere View Point Park was carved in 1901 by natives of the coastal island region of British Columbia and brought to the viewpoint in 1939 by J.E. “Daddy” Standley, resident of the Admiral area of West Seattle and proprietor of the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the downtown waterfront.

1963 Nickels at Belvedere totem

The Nickels family poses next to the first pole in 1963: (from left) Kathleen McKenney Nickels and children Amy (Nickels Thorpe), Mark, Greg (future Seattle mayor) and Peter.

After the first pole deteriorated, a second pole was carved as a replica of the first and installed at Belvedere View Point Park in 1966. Two Boeing engineers, Michael Morgan and Bob Fleischman, carved this pole on a voluntary basis, using a log harvested from the city’s old-growth Schmitz Park in West Seattle. The project enlisted many volunteers to complete the painting of the pole at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo before the pole was installed at Belvedere View Point Park.

Over the decades, the second pole suffered deterioration similar to that of the first, and 40 years after its installation, it was replaced in 2006 at Belvedere View Point Park by a third pole (more accurately called a story pole) carved by Michael Halady, a fifth-generation descendent of Chief Seattle. The third pole stands today at the viewpoint.

Seattle Parks and Recreation gave the second totem pole to the Southwest Seattle Historical Society based upon on the organization’s intention to restore and install it at its museum.


[To see a pictorial backgrounder on this project assembled by Pete Covell, volunteer, and Sarah Baylinson, museum manager, click here.]


[In this video, Diane Morgan, wife of carver Michael Morgan, describes the creation of the 1966 Admiral totem pole that we have restored and that will be unveiled at our museum at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 6.]


[In this video by contributor Mark Jaroslaw of Avenue Productions from Tuesday, June 3, 2014, staff from Artech Fine Art Services install the 1966 Admiral totem pole at our museum.]


[In this video, Carol Vincent, longtime volunteer and former president of our historical society, relates the history behind the story pole carved by Duwamish Tribe member Michael Halady and installed in 2006 at Belvedere View Point Park on Admiral Way in West Seattle.]


 [In this video, Roger Waterhouse of Artech Fine Art Services describes the restoration process for the 1966 Admiral totem pole.]