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Frazier, Prentis (1880-1959)

HistoryLink.org Essay 1166 : Printer-Friendly Format

Prentis Frazier came to Seattle in 1916 with little formal education but with an innate business sense and a desire to promote financial prosperity for the small black community he found here and for himself and his family.

He was born in the community of Magnolia Springs, Jasper County, Texas to Martha and Armstead Frazier, both former slaves. At an early age he left his farm home to seek his fortune, first in Beaumont and later in Dallas, Texas. After his business ventures in banking and the operation of a boarding house failed, he and his wife Clara headed north to eventually settle in Seattle.

For almost 40 years, Prentis Frazier operated in real estate, insurance, bail bonds, and investments. His first office was in the Pacific Building at 2nd Avenue and Yesler Way. Always alert to opportunities to promote other business in the black community, in 1920, he helped organize Blackwell and Johnson Undertakers on East Marion between 12th and 13th avenues. In 1925, at 21st Avenue and East Madison Street, he and Attorney Clarence Anderson opened the Anzier Movie Theater.

Later in the 1920s, he and William Wilson started and published a small black oriented newspaper, the Seattle Enterprise, which was later renamed the Northwest Enterprise and ran until the early 1950s. In the early 1940s, he went into the bail bond business with offices in the Lyon Building at 3rd Avenue and James Street.

Prentis Frazier was an active member of the Republican Party and a member and generous contributor to the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. He always lived in the Central Area, residing the last ten years of his life at 410 23rd Avenue E. When the gully behind his home was designated a mini-park, relatives and neighbors recommended it be named for him because of his contribution to the community as a philanthropist and business entrepreneur. In 1983, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department changed the name of the 0.3 acre Harrison Street Mini Park to the Prentis Frazier Park.

Sources:
Mary T. Henry. Tribute: Seattle Public Places Named for Black People. (Seattle: Statice Press, 1987) 61, 62.


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