The Stander That Didn't

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Although not yet married yet married, Anton and Violet Stander were living together in Dawson in 1897 - the first year of the great Yukon gold rush. After agreeing to share their wealth, they got rich quick. Violet later estimated they carried a half million dollars out of the mines.

In 1901 the lucky couple were married in San Francisco, then settled in Seattle. Here their investments included more than 100 lots in a five-block addition that centered on Columbia Street and 28th Avenue West, the Holyoke Building at First Avenue and Spring Street, and their namesake, the Stander Hotel at the northwest corner of Marion Street and Fourth Avenue.

In the spring of 1905 The Seattle Times announced under an etching of what it described as this "magnificent structure" that the hotel built for the Klondike millionaire would open on the 10th of May. Stander's "idea in construction," it was claimed, "was to build the finest family hotel in the Northwest." The 250 rooms were divided into suites that featured private baths, telephone service and modern ventilation. On the main floor were a barber shop, restaurant, ladies parlor and decorated grill.

Less than a year and a half later, Deputy Sheriff S. Klein walked into that grill and up to the bar and tapped Anton Stander on the shoulder. Stander fled out the door and down the alley; Klein pursued, firing a shot at him. When the shot hit the ground at Stander's feet, he froze. Only then did he accept the papers the sheriff handed him - a summons restraining Stander from selling anything until his wife's suit for divorce was settled. Eventually, they divided an estate worth approximately $900,000. However, not unlike their relationship, it was "heavily encumbered."

These episodes in a story of both good and foul fortunes were uncovered by Michael Cirelli, who has spent the better part of the past quarter-century reading newspapers to familiarize himself with the revealing minutiae of local history. Happily for us all, he often shares his findings.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.