A History of the Seattle Mayor's Desk

  • By Greg Nickels
  • Posted 9/18/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3959

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels submitted the following “history” of his official city hall desk, which dates back to 1928. He found the typed, undated, and anonymous narrative taped to a drawer, and noted one historical error: Frank Edwards was recalled in 1931, not defeated for re-election. It is true, as stated, that he was succeeded by John Dore in the next election (defeating Robert Harlin, who was appointed to complete Edwards' term). Mayor Nickels also informed HistoryLink.org  that the desk suite once included a matching coat rack, but it disappeared during a term of one of his predecessors. He’d like to have it back.

This unique desk and four pieces of matched furniture were purchased for the Mayor's office in 1928 by incumbent Mayor Frank Edwards. Immediately "that Hollywood furniture" became a symbol and he was criticized for spending the citizens' money foolishly.

In the next election campaign, candidates for the Mayor's office often used this criticism to support their plea for a change of Mayor. This was the principal campaign issue. Mayor Edwards was defeated and John Dore took office as Mayor [see note above].

All of Seattle's mayors used this very fine desk during the years the Mayor's office was on the second floor of the old County-City Building, now the King County Courthouse (from 1928 to 1962).

The new Municipal Office Building was completed in 1962. Prior to moving, each Department Head was requested to select new furniture for his new office. City Engineer Roy W. Morse, believing that the Mayor's fine old furniture should not be lost, proposed that the City Engineer's office in the new building be equipped with the desk, telephone stand, side table, costumer, and waste basket.

The proposal was approved. After refinishing, the desk and other pieces arrived.

Mayor Wes Uhlman, in the spring of 1970, requested that the desk be returned to the Mayoral Office, where it has been used ever since.


Sources:

Undated, unsigned typescript attached to the desk of the Mayor of Seattle. Submitted by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels.


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