First Person Story:
William R. Gray
| ||Gala Opening of the Fairhaven Hotel |
September 3, 1890
"Tomorrow night a grand ball will be given at the Hotel Fairhaven, which was opened today for the first time. I am fortunate enough to have an invitation and think I will go up for a little while simply to get acquainted with a few people, but not to dance. You know I have given that up."
September 7, 1890
"When I say that I went to the ball I mean that I went over for a little while and stood around and watched them dance. It was quite a brilliant affair. The music was furnished by the Tacoma theatre orchestra of eleven pieces and was very good. "
"But such a jam! There were about two hundred couples to say nothing of the young fellows like myself who were not "coupled”. There was hardly room to get around on the floor and the quadrille sets were decidedly cramped for room. "
"About one-third of the gentlemen were in evening dress, while others were dressed – so so. Some of the ladies were beautiful, some were plain, while some were – I forbear to say. Some were beautifully dressed, some tastefully while with others gorgeousness seemed to have been the main object. Some were gray haired ladies while others were mere children, all hair and stockings."
"There were a great many young girls, and many young married ladies. There were fat women with puffed dresses and sleeves and there were three women with no sleeves at all. Some were dressed as primly as Quaker maidens, while others were decotte as far as the law would allow."
"In fact it was quite a mixture, and yet taking it all in all, it was about as nice a crowd as you will often see. It was a little too large however for me to make any effort to get acquainted so I contented myself with watching the kaleidoscopic multitude for a time and then went back to the office. I don’t like large crowds."
| || |
William R. Gray was part of a Fairhaven contingent from Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. They were looking to find success not available in their small college town in the Midwest. W.R. Gray was the first tenant in the Mason Block (now Sycamore Square).
This migration could be due, in some part, to a local Mt. Pleasant young man, Leigh J.S. Hunt. In 1880, Hunt, in his early 20s, was the Supervisor of the Mt. Pleasant schools. Dr. Gray makes reference in a letter to Anna, that he wishes he was friends with him.
Five years later, Hunt became the youngest President of an agricultural college which would become Iowa State College. Failing spectacularly at that job, he left for Washington State in 1886 and that same year purchased the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Soon a wealthy millionaire, he owned gold mines in South Korea and became the largest real estate landowner in Las Vegas, Nevada, before Howard Hughes. Hunt's Point, a wealthy suburb in Seattle is named after him. If a young Leigh Hunt could make it so big, so quickly....the trip West would have been very tempting for the folks of Iowa.
Click book cover for Village Books information.