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City Council appoints George W. Hall as mayor of City of Seattle on December 9, 1891.

HistoryLink.org Essay 2792 : Printer-Friendly Format

On December 9, 1891, the City Council appoints George W. Hall -- the president of the council -- as mayor of the City of Seattle. Hall fills the unexpired term of Mayor Harry White, who resigned under pressure.

Hall was a founder of the Hall and Paulson Furniture Company, which at its peak, in 1889, employed 75 workers in a factory on 1st Avenue S in Seattle. The company also operated a hardwood sawmill on the White River, to provide raw material for the factory. Hall and Paulson produced much of the furniture bought by residents of the Puget Sound region in the 1870s and 1880s. Its products also were shipped to markets in Oregon and California.

It's not clear when Hall arrived in Seattle, but by 1870 he was established enough to join seven other prominent citizens in organizing the city's first Odd Fellows lodge. In 1872, he married Mary Virginia Bell, a daughter of William Nathaniel Bell, one of the founders of Seattle. Bell and his wife Sarah Ann and their four children -- including four-year-old Virginia -- arrived with the Denny party on the schooner Exact in 1851.

Hall and a business partner opened a small furniture store in 1874, with stock ordered from manufacturers in San Francisco. The high costs of shipping furniture from San Francisco to Seattle, coupled with the abundant supplies of raw materials available in what were still heavily timbered areas around the young town, convinced Hall to begin making his own furniture. Within a year, he and a new partner -- Paul Paulson -- had added a workshop next to the store. By 1877, they were supplying both local and outside markets with tables, chests, bedsteads, and other items.

The original store and workshop were replaced by a larger showroom and factory in 1882. Hall retired as president and manager of the company in 1888. The next year, the complex was destroyed, along with most of the rest of downtown Seattle, in what became known as the Great Fire. The company lost most of its assets, including its stock and manufacturing equipment. About all that was left was mud flats covered with fourteen feet of water, commented Clarence B. Bagley, in his 1916 history of Seattle (Vol. 2, p. 713). The factory was never rebuilt. Hall subsequently went into the real estate business.

Hall served three consecutive one-year terms on the town council beginning in 1875. He was elected president of the council in 1890, under a revised city charter that had greatly expanded the membership and functions of the council. His fellow councilmen appointed him to replace Harry White as mayor when White, under criticism for his handling of municipal affairs, was forced to resign on November 30, 1891.

Hall completed the remaining four months of White's term. During that time, he tried to persuade the council to buy the former University of Washington campus and buildings, located in what is now Seattle's central business district, for the construction of a new city hall. The existing city hall, opened just one year earlier in a building previously used as the county courthouse, had already become overcrowded. Despite general agreement that the building was inadequate for an increasingly complex municipal government, Seattle did not get a new city hall until 1909.

Seattle City Clerk, "Mayors of the City of Seattle," (www.ci.seattle.wa.us/seattle/leg/clerk/mayors.htm); Clarence B. Bagley, History of Seattle From the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Vols. 1-2 (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1916).

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Mayor George W. Hall, 1892
Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives (Image No. 12269)

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