It probably wouldn’t take much to convince you that Seattle has a very rich history. Look around and you’ll see lots of historical artifacts and buildings, but do you really know how old they are? Do you have any idea what makes them so special? Here are five stories about some of Seattle’s most famous things.
The Oldest Building

When you think of which building in Seattle has been standing there the longest, you might be surprised to learn that it isn’t a church or an ornate office building. It’s simply a house. A house that is still in amazing condition. While nobody can really confirm which structure in Seattle is the oldest still standing, many believe that honor goes to the Ward House located at 520 E. Denny Way on Capitol Hill. It was built in 1882 during the first “big boom” for new city, but it wasn’t built where it stands now. Originally, the Ward House was built on Boren Ave. in between the streets of Union and Pike. Due to the building of the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, it was moved and then restored, which explains how this Victorian house still looks so good for its age.

The Oldest Bar

Partners Jamieson and McFarland first open the doors of the J & M in 1892 in Pioneer Square. Two years later, the pair moved two doors down at 201 First Ave. S. where it still operates today. From 1906 to 1916, it was known as the J & M Saloon and was known for its gambling and dancing during the Gold Rush. By 1921, the saloon switched to “soft drinks” and meals and became known as the J & M Cafe. It even served as a backdrop the 1974 John Wayne movie “McQ.” Today, the cafe/bar is open seven days a week and looks fantastic given its facelift awhile back. The J & M has seen a lot over the years and yet still remains one of Seattle’s most popular bars.

The Oldest Candy Companies

Some will be surprised to learn that Mars, Inc. got its start in Tacoma, Washington. Franklin Clarence Mars, (who learned how to hand-dip candy from his mother), and his wife Ethel started their business in 1911. Unfortunately, the first version of the Mars company failed, and they moved back home to Minnesota. However, in 1914, Harry L. Brown and J. C. Harry, who met in church, created what is now known as the Brown & Haley Candy Factory in 1914. The factory created the original Mountain Bar and later the famous Almond Roca.

Related: Seattle History Lover’s Guide To The Arctic Building

Oldest Fair Food

In 1911, Fisher Flour Mills became known as the largest flour mill in the western U.S. As a promotion to sell more flour, Fisher came up with the idea of selling Fisher Scones at some of the larger fairs in the country. He started with the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco and then the Puyallup Fairgrounds, where the scones are still made and sold in the very same space over 100 years ago. They are still just as, if not more popular, today.

Oldest Church

Seattle was just two years old when the Rev. David Edwards Blaine and his new wife Catharine founded The First United Methodist Church. In 1853, the very first church meeting was held in a log cabin. The first “house of worship” was built on the southeast corner of Second and Columbia. As the congregation grew, so did the building. Eventually, First United moved to a much larger building on Fifth and Marion in downtown Seattle. In 2007, the congregation, not needing such a big building anymore, sold it and started a new church on corner of Second Ave. N. and Denny Way where its congregation still meet today.

Related: Historic Walking Tour Of Seattle

Jeffrey Totey is a freelance writer living in Seattle. He has a love for the arts and is a student of pop culture. He covers stories about the performing arts, theater, museums, cultural events, movies and more in the greater Seattle area. His work can be found at