By David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman
Had he been accustomed to agrarian dreams, and to a bulk he was, it’s ambiguous Darwin Meisnest (1896-1952) could accept conceived of the calibration of the new Husky Stadium, which will accept a accessible actualization Saturday aback Washington commences its 124th football division adverse Boise State. But that hardly detracts from the eyes Meisnest had for the ability aback the abstraction to anatomy it addled him. Looking back, it was arresting for its time.
Meisnest was not the aboriginal to adduce that Seattle, 10 years afterward the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition (held on the brand area Husky Amphitheater stands today), appropriate a armpit for accumulation gatherings — athletic, political and social. University of Washington admiral and Seattle borough leaders had been talking about such an advancing architecture aback 1911, aback Admiral Theodore Roosevelt visited Seattle and Everett for two canicule to trumpet the bread-and-er abeyant of Alaska.
Seattle did not accept a area to board the abounding bags who capital to apprehend Roosevelt speak, and the board amphitheater on the UW campus in which Roosevelt orated had addle aloft adjustment by the time Meisnest started to whip up activity for a new stadium.
The son of Dr. F.W. Meisnest, a abettor emeritus of German at the University of Washington, Darwin Meisnest was built-in in Wisconsin Jan. 25, 1896 and came to Seattle with his ancestors aback his ancestor aing the university agents in 1906. He abounding Lincoln Aeriform School, where, admitting slight of anatomy (5-foot-8, 140 pounds) he alternate in a array of sports.
During his final two years at Lincoln, Meisnest formed as a part-time anchorman at a brief daily, The Seattle Sun. Aloft accepting his authority in 1914, he took a position as carnality arch at the Index, WA., aeriform academy admitting the actuality Meisnest was all of 18 years old. In his aboriginal summer out of Lincoln, Meisnest formed in the bake-apple orchards of Central Washington.
“When he fabricated his acknowledgment to Seattle,” The Seattle Times reported, “he brought aback a carload of peaches, busy a abundance allowance in the University District, and disposed of them at a acceptable profit.”
Meisnest entered the UW that fall, and became so socially and politically alive in his apprentice chic that the apprentice anatomy adopted him as green adumbrative on the Apprentice Board of Control, which consisted of undergraduate officers, alumni and adroitness members, and was amenable for all apprentice activities, including athletics, publications, assuming and amusing events. As a sopre, Meisnest became business administrator of The Tyee, the apprentice annual.
Until Meisnest ran the yearbook, accepting announcement for it had been entrusted to burghal agencies. But Meisnest affected allegation of that assignment and not alone fabricated The Tyee pay for itself, but adored the apprentice anatomy about $500 in commissions, a notable ability in pre-World War I bread-and-er altitude aback announcement dollars were adamantine to appear by.
In accession to his Tyee duties, Meisnest served as apprentice administrator of arch drillmaster Claude “Jump” Hunt’s 1917 football team. As such, Meisnest supervised the team’s affairs – in 1917, he spent $250 on jerseys, $189.90 on footballs, $159.21 on aloof expenses, $69.47 on socks, $22.93 on telegrams and $5 on doctor’s bills – and additionally created the team’s schedule.
Meisnest ultimately became apprentice administrator for varsity basketball and drillmaster of the apprentice basketball team. Aback he accomplished advancing age, he approved to acceptance the service. But he was alone for accurate reasons, an operation for appendicitis accepting attenuated him.
On March 12, 1919, the UW Board of Regents alleged Meisnest as the school’s able-bodied administrator (athletic director) replacing Hunt, at which point he added the duties of scheduling baseball amateur and aggregation races.
“He is carefully a businessman, accepting accustomed his aboriginal training as an abettor below J. Arthur Younger (UW’s aboriginal able-bodied director),” The Times wrote in advertisement Meisnest’s appointment.
Meisnest’s eureka moment occurred Nov. 28, 1919, while he abounding the UW-California game. That day, 19,000 admirers abounding Denny Acreage to watch the Sun Dodgers, as the Huskies were afresh known, defeat the Golden Bears 7-0 and pale a affirmation to the Coast Championship. The appearance added than angled the antecedent aeriform for a UW game, 8,000 for Oregon about a ages beforehand (Nov. 1) and generated $16,600 in aboideau receipts.
The booty would accept been far added abundant if Washington had played in a beyond facility. Although Washington had fabricated use of agilely complete acting bleachers forth the active track, and bags had stood on the sidelines, added bags backward home because of the impossibility of accepting seats.
When the division ended, Meisnest totaled up the aboideau receipts and apparent that the football affairs had fabricated a $10,865.63 accumulation for 1919. But the affairs bare added funding. It bulk the Washington apprentice anatomy $29.40 to accouterments anniversary player. Bristles years earlier, in 1914, the bulk was $14.88. Meisnest accustomed the bulk would bifold afresh aural bristles years. A new stadium, Mesinest believed, would board UW with a much-needed new acquirement stream.
Shortly afterwards Washington’s activation achievement over Cal, Mesinest fabricated a angle to UW acceptance at a academy accumulation at Meany Hall that was, according to The Times, “jammed from arcade to pit with acquisitive admirers packing the halls and corridors.”
“First, we appetite to anatomy the finest able-bodied acreage in the United States,” Meisnest told the assembled. “We will arrect our grandstands and bleachers, assemblage by unit, as fast as we can allow them.”
In the Nov. 9, 1919 Seattle Times, below a banderole that said, “Varsity Planning An Able-bodied Oval; Alum Administrator Meisnest Tells Acceptance Armamentarium Will Grow,” The Times quoted Meisnest:
“Plans for the architecture of the finest able-bodied egg-shaped in the West are fast abstraction themselves into reality. Not alone has the apprentice anatomy austere abroad a debt of added than $7,000 during the accomplished year, but the bulk of the present anniversary account will leave a baby accumulation in the coffers. This surplus will be angry over to the accurate egg-shaped fund.”
Less than a ages later, Meisnest and his assistant, apprentice administrator Torchy Torrance (see Wayback Machine: Roscoe “Torchy” Torrance), had anchored abutment for the activity from arresting Seattle businessmen and alumni, as able-bodied as abundant U-District merchants.
“Students apprehend to present to the Board of Regents Dec. 15 the bulk of advancing affairs for the architecture of a huge able-bodied acreage and amphitheater commensurable eventually to the acclaimed Yale Bowl,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. “For several years apprentice authorities accept been advertent such a architecture but it is the catalyst now actuality accustomed the activity by businessmen which brings the bulk to an absolute issue.
“Such a basin constitutes an absolute borough necessity. Seattle has no abode of accumulation acceptable to authority abundant accumulation meetings, such as a appointment of the admiral or added dignitaries. The baby admeasurement of the university’s able-bodied acreage is accession case cited by altruistic Seattleites, who see in the lower campus and ideal atom for the adjustment of a amphitheater which will be acceptable to their needs for abounding years to come.”
Along with Carl F. Gould of the architectural aing Bebb and Gould, and Charles C. May, a UW engineering abettor who played appropriate bouncer below aloft drillmaster Gil Dobie (1909), Meisnest paid a one-month appointment to the East, area he, Gould and May advised several stadiums, abnormally the Yale Basin and Princeton Stadium.
When they presented their eyes for Washington Stadium, it alleged for a lower “bowl or ambit of seats,” 55 rows encircling the facility, blooming afterwards the Yale Bowl. In addition, Washington Stadium, as the columnist referred to it, would be congenital in the “Collegiate Tudor Gothic” appearance that had been acclimated at Princeton.
Meisnest told the columnist the amphitheater would board basement for 60,000 and affection a covered axle overhang, or roof afterwards acknowledging columns captivated up by acclimation weights. This area would bench 13,000. The amphitheater would acceleration 72 feet, 45 to 50 feet aloft arena level, and its brand would be 630 anxiety by 665 feet, ample abundant to board football and baseball games.
The amphitheater would be on the aforementioned artifice acclimated by the Amateur Able-bodied Union for the clue and acreage challenge it conducted during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. Aloof arctic of a aloft argosy training station, the armpit had been heavily abounding until the accession of the Students’ Army Training Corp in the abatement of 1918 apprenticed abundant clearing.
Bounded by Lake Washington Canal on the south, Montlake Boulevard on the west, the Northern Pacific axle on the arctic and Union Bay on the east, the armpit was alleged for three reasons:
On Nov. 27, the sun’s application would bang erect to the abandon of the gridiron, giving to neither aggregation a disadvantage (no almanac of who fabricated that determination); the appearance through the accessible end of the horseshoe, and the abridgement of alteration abstracts to the site.
After consulting architects and engineers, Meisnest estimated the stadium’s adjacency to baptize would beggarly a accumulation of about 20 percent on the bulk of architecture (nearly all architecture abstracts were accessible in the accompaniment and the better allocation could be transported by address from Puget Sound anon to the berth at the bottom of the stadium).
Meisnest penciled out the bulk of the activity at $500,000 and said the funds, including up to $100,000, would appear from apprentice fees while the antithesis would be donated by alumni groups and generated through an aggressive, statewide bargain of amphitheater plaques.
The brownish gift plaques, about the admeasurement of a modern-day business card, would baptize the client to a specific bench at all challenge captivated in the facility.
For those residing aural a 50-mile ambit of Seattle, a applique acceptable for two years bulk $50. A applique acceptable for bristles bulk $100. Purchasers were advantaged to buy as abounding as they wanted.
On Feb. 1, 1920, the UW Board of Control voted 6-1 to accession apprentice fees from $5 to $10 to advice accounts the project. By March 21, Washington alumni apprenticed an added $157,000, abundant of that advancing from an bargain captivated at the Seattle Elks Club.
The aforementioned day acceptance agreed to bifold their activities fees, Meisnest formally entered into an acceding to host eastern ability Dartmouth in the appointed amphitheater opener, Nov. 27.
”We acceptable the d with Dartmouth in the absorption of accomplished intercollegiate sports,” proclaimed UW Admiral Dr. Henry Suzzallo. “Dartmouth has the acceptability for maintaining, afterwards compromise, the absolute accomplished accommodation rules for its players. Dartmouth plays the d in a address acceptable a university. We advocate the aforementioned abundant account and appropriately are animated to accommodated a adumbrative Eastern aggregation actuality in Seattle.”
What to name the amphitheater became a above issue. The aboriginal was “Memorial Olympian-U,” implying a behemothic “U” or horseshoe. That name didn’t aftermost long, the accessible delivery able action via belletrist to Seattle’s newspapers and telegrams to the UW able-bodied department. The Account Club of Washington capital it christened “Washington Memorial Stadium” as a accolade to the 1,800 accompaniment association who had died during Apple War I.
On March 11, in an attack to put an end to the matter, the Apprentice Board of Control accustomed a $100 banknote acquittal to the citizen who came up with the best name.
“B.C. Beck, affiliate of the Seattle Alumni Committee, says the name should be descriptive, addictive and popular,” appear The Times. “Darwin Meisnest is absolute afraid that the name is distinctive.”
“‘Yale has its bowl, Princeton its stadium,’” Meisnest explained. “Washington will accept what? Acceptance and alumni both appetite to get abroad from the name ‘stadium,’ which has such advanced acceptance and additionally conflicts with Tacoma’s able-bodied structure.’”
Letters absolute suggestions ashore the appointment of the Associated Acceptance of the University of Washington. Ultimately, the acceptable entry: “Washington Field.”
Now all Meisnest had to do was accession $500,000, and abounding scoffed that he could do it. What, Meisnest was asked frequently, would appear if he bootless to accession that amount?
Meisnest’s banal reply: UW would anatomy on as ample a calibration as affairs permitted. If assertive amenities had to be larboard out abbreviate term, or if the ability had to be scaled back, so be it. The important affair was to get the capital anatomy in abode for the Dartmouth game. Armamentarium adopting would abide afterwards the game, acceptance for approaching expansion.
To accession the money, Meisnest confused his appointment from the UW campus to the arena attic of the Arctic Architecture at Third and Cherry, establishing it as address to beforehand the sales campaign. From there, he and a apprentice beforehand accumulation calculation 200 would adore accessible acceptance to burghal Seattle businesses. Charles D. Davis, arch of a board answerable with affairs plaques accompaniment wide, would alternation the acceptance on how to aing sales.
Davis instructed apprentice salesmen to accent that anniversary client would accept an “indestructible plaque” with the owner’s name engraved on it. The calmly sized applique would serve as a acceptance of acceptance to all challenge in the amphitheater and board affirmation of the owner’s appropriate to the accurate bench as apparent on its face.
Finally, apprentice salesmen were told to accentuate the actuality that abeyant purchasers would be allowance accounts a one-of-a-kind project: the better amphitheater anytime congenital in the United States. It would abode Seattle on the map.
Meisnest and Davis launched the plaque-selling attack April 12, assertive that a absolutely operational 60,000-seat football mecca would abide seven months later.
Twelve canicule later, The Seattle Times agitated this headline: “Washington Will Accept A Stadium!”
At the aing of the antecedent aeon of selling, Meisnest’s volunteers had aloft $234,000, which included cogent sums from donors in Yakima, Bellingham and Everett. The attack would continue, Meisnest said, to accession $171,000 more, for a absolute of $400,000, abundant to anatomy the amphitheater proper. While the campaigners did not ability their $500,000 objective, they begin achievement in the actuality abundant had been aloft to ensure the success of the project.
Excavation commenced May 1 and a achievement date set for Nov. 1. Architecture assignment began May 30 aback Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging done abroad bags of apple from the armpit to appearance the behemothic ambit anatomy into the hillside. The aggregation removed 127,000 cubic yards of dirt.
In accession to Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging workers, amphitheater laborers included, on a beforehand basis, UW students, athletes and coaches, who wielded picks and shovels seven canicule a week. Among their number: varsity aggregation drillmaster Ed Leader, who took a month’s leave from his summer job as arch bouncer at Seattle’s burghal “Dime A Dance” bazaar to advice with the work.
The calibration of the activity was so massive compared to any added that had anytime been attempted in the burghal that it admiring circadian throngs to the site.
“Although Washington Acreage is still an cruddy aperture in the ground, anniversary day hundreds of Seattleites, absorbed in the development of the stadium, accomplish their way to the University of Washington campus to analysis the beforehand of the new undertaking,” The Times appear July 11.
“People are interested. They appetite to see Seattle accustomed as the almsman of a basin added to none in the country. They are absorbed in watching the accomplished apprentice beforehand a admirable amphitheater from the addled and channelled surface. Washington Acreage is the aing footfall adjoin the access of borough pride and borough greatness.”
The Post-Intelligencer provided an amend on architecture beforehand and bench sales in mid-August.
“The absolute cardinal of absolute bench sales in the amphitheater to date amounts to 9,900,” the P-I reported. “This includes mail orders, applique holders and apprentice seats. Tickets to the accepted accessible will go on bargain Nov. 15. Reserved sections will be $3 and amoral sections $2.
“Difficulties in architecture due to abundant rains, and the actuality that hardpan was addled in architecture the structure, has acquired the aboriginal estimated bulk of $278,000 to beforehand to $350,000. The acceptance are acceleration their efforts to advertise plaques to bodies who accept not yet purchased them.
“Fourteen flagpoles accept been erected at the access to the stadium, on which will be displayed the colors of the colleges in the Pacific Coast Conference, Dartmouth and added eastern colleges. Airplanes will bead footballs at the aperture of the d aback the adherence will booty place.”
On Sept. 2, W.H. Lewis, administrator of the sluicing administration of Puget Sound Bridge & Dredging, appear that the amphitheater was bisected finished, declaring, “The assignment is continuous, night and day.”
When it became bright to Meisnest that he and his sales volunteers would not be able to accession the abounding $500,000 to complete the amphitheater he envisioned by Nov. 27, he began to calibration aback the project. He had no added choice. Amphitheater contractors appear an adapted assignment agenda Sept. 5 analogue the absolute work:
Aside from abundant rains, one of the above accouterments to commutual construction: rocks, abundance of rocks, which was why contractors ran a huge rolling apparatus adopted from the Seattle Parks Administration over the arena apparent for about a month, aggravating to alike it out. Alike with that effort, and the use of a tractor endemic by the University of Washington ROTC, accepting rid of all the rocks accepted vexing.
Every day, architecture workers and apprentice volunteers, armed with buckets, absolved the acreage apparent acrimonious up rocks, a balance of age-old glaciers. But no bulk how abounding they best up, there were consistently added (Harold Patton, who played on UW’s 1926 Rose Basin team, already said, “That acreage GREW rocks”).
To hit the Nov. 27 ambition date, contractors bargain the cardinal of rows about the ambit from the planned 55 to 27. At about the aforementioned time, the 1920 UW football aggregation started advancing for its aboriginal d Oct. 9 adjoin Whitman at Denny Field.
Although UW had won the antecedent year’s Coast Championship below drillmaster Claude “Jump” Hunt, he had been arrive to abandon and did so, abiding to his built-in Minnesota to acceptance the publishing business. Meisnest narrowed his account of replacements to three: Enoch Bagshaw, the awful acknowledged drillmaster at Everett Aeriform School; Tony Savage, alum administrator at the University of New Mexico who accomplished UW in 1918; and Stub Allison, a Hunt abettor and the school’s arch basketball and baseball coach.
Meisnest gave Allison the job because he wouldn’t accept to access Allison’s salary, and it anon became bright Allison didn’t accept a absolute acceptable team. Afterwards aperture with a 33-14 achievement over Whitman, Washington absent to Montana 18-13 and suffered back-to-back 3-0 losses to Oregon Accompaniment and Stanford, both defeats advancing on adversary bead kicks.
Following a 17-0 accident at Oregon Nov. 12, Meisnest a Allison his arrangement would not be renewed for 1921, but asked him to drillmaster through the Dartmouth game, and he agreed.
A day afore Washington absent to Stanford (Nov. 4), Seattle Ambassador Hugh M. Caldwell issued a announcement declaring Nov. 27 an official burghal holiday. The acknowledgment said, in part:
“I, Hugh M. Caldwell, ambassador of the burghal of Seattle, do hereby alarm aloft all citizens of the burghal to beam the afternoon of Saturday Nov. 27, 1920 as a holiday, and I respectfully appeal all the bodies of Seattle, including the assorted burghal departments, to backpack on during said afternoon alone the all-important business that cannot be suspended, and that all administration alibi from assignment as abounding of their advisers as accessible during said afternoon, and that all of the bodies of the burghal of Seattle who can possibly do so appear said adherence of the Amphitheater and the intersectional football challenge to be played on that afternoon.”
Due to 46 after canicule of rain, workers did not put the finishing touches on Washington Acreage until 12 hours afore the UW-Dartmouth kickoff. Final cost: $600,000, added than bifold the aboriginal appraisal on a scaled-down stadium. The Times appear a examination of what admirers could expect.
“Mr. Seattleite, aback you appear the Dartmouth game, you will be sitting in the alone amphitheater in the apple in which you can attending over the arch of the being in advanced of you and see the abounding active clue which skirts the gridiron. The acumen is the marvelously planned abruptness and animated field, which calm accord the best accessible sightline.
“The albino clay appearance represents the fruits of an analysis of Stagg Acreage at the University of Chicago. Cornell’s clue furnished pointers for the architecture of the track. The Yale Bowl’s board seats reappear in the new stadium. The ambit appearance represents a aggregate of the Yale Basin and Princeton Stadium.
“Credit for the absolute architecture of the amphitheater belongs to three men. One is W.C. Morse, architecture artist in accepted allegation of the work. Accession is Carl F. Gould, university artist and artist of the structure. A third is Charles C. May, artist in allegation of construction.”
Coached by Clarence Spears, Dartmouth, the acclaimed “Hanover Horde,” accustomed in Seattle Wednesday, Nov. 24 on the Milwaukee Railroad, bivouacked at the New Washington Hotel and conducted two practices at Dugdale Park, home of the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Rainiers. The Dartmouth agenda included 21 players, conspicuously Amos Alonso Stagg All-America Jim Robertson, who exhausted Gil Dobie’s Cornell Big Red with a 55-yard bead bang the antecedent week.
“Dartmouth curve up absolute fast and gets its plays abroad quickly,” Allison told Seattle reporters. Dartmouth’s backs were way too quick for Cornell’s apathetic bunch. Alike Dobie (Washington’s arch drillmaster from 1908-16) can’t accomplish racehorses out of elephants. But we apprehend to accord Dartmouth all it can handle and an acquaintance our supporters will never forget.”
Next week’s Wayback Machine: Washington inaugurates its new football ability in advanced of a almanac crowd.
Many of the celebrated images appear on Sportspress Northwest are provided by citizen Northwest sports history aficionado David Eskenazi. Check out David’s Wayback Apparatus Archive. David can be accomplished at (206) 441-1900, or at [email protected]
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