Crowdsource Request: Help Identify This Asahel Curtis Photo

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

asahel-curtis-41231aI recently acquired an Asahel Curtis photographic negative and ask your help in determining where it was taken and possibly who are the persons depicted.

Asahel Curtis was a prolific photographer who captured numerous cultural and scenic aspects of Washington, Oregon and Alaska during his career spanning from the early 1890s until 1941.

Here is an inverse of the negative. Click on the image to enlarge.


The negative includes a catalog number of 41231 A. I suspect the scene shows either a bank or government building and was taken possibly in the early 1920s; judging by the clothing fashions.

This week I contacted the University of Washington, which has a large archive of Mr. Curtis’ photographs and were very quick to provide assistance. Unfortunately, they did not have the reference number from the negative on file and his catalog order is not consistent with year.

I am grateful for any help you can provide. Feel free to leave a comment with any leads.

Feel free to re-tweet or share this on social media.

Thank you.

Darren Smith

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

9 thoughts on “Crowdsource Request: Help Identify This Asahel Curtis Photo”

  1. My guess is that it is a courthouse. Possibly the old entrance to the King County Courthouse (on the South side of the building).

    It could also be an entry to the Temple of Justice in Olympia.

  2. The young tart in the middle is having an affair with the rakish young guy standing at an angle at 4th from left. The blonde girl in the front and the blond guy 3d from left are both Scandinavian immigrants and will eventually marry. The bespeculed guy with the bow tie in the rear will be uncovered as a spy and deported.

  3. @DarrenSmith

    Well, I have been holding it in, but. . . How come you bought a picture of people when you don’t even know who they are, standing in front of an unidentified and pretty plain building, while they are doing nothing interesting at all, except just standing there???

    I mean if they were half dressed and half drunk in front of Madame Petunia’s Cat House in downtown Spokane 1912 , that would be exciting and cool! If you saved it from imminent destruction or something, that would be one thing, or as an investment. But like it is, it is kind of bland. IMHO.

    I bought a painting once at a garage sale for $3.00 because I felt sorry for it, like the next step for it was the curb, in a black plastic bag. It is a painting of books, and a candle, and some kind of unidentifiable potted plant, and it is signed —Trina. Sooo whenever anybody asks me what that Godawful thing is on my wall, I remark, “Oh! That’s an original Trina!” and that usually shuts them up.

    And, Trina has been good to me! Once, somebody broke into my house, apparently took one look at my Trina, and ran screaming from the house covering their eyes. The cops caught him a few blocks away, as he was sitting on a curb crying and rubbing his eyes. It turned out he was a poor, starving artist, sooo I gave him a few cans of chili, and didn’t press charges.

    OH! I think I have digressed.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. I would suggest a court of appeals or the Supreme Court of a state. Some of the males are clerks and the women are secretaries. That building has the look of a courthouse or legislative body building. I would say 1930.

  5. Reminds me of a library staff (esp the young ladies, but probably also some of the gents), and Board, on the steps of their shiny new Carnegie bldg? I’ve seen one like it from maybe 20 yrs later (my old job). It even has a “rowdy-girl”, the one in the sheer top!

  6. Or maybe an insurance company. Anyway, I bet the chick on the far right is sleeping with the old geezer on the right next to the lamp post. See that devilish grin on his face! That old codger!!! He ought to be ashamed of himself!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  7. Looks to be a faculty with the secretaries in the foreground. I don’t recall a building like that at the University of Washington so check the University of Oregon first.

    Just a suggestion.

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