Frank La Roche Photographs

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Actresses fording Dyea River on the Chilkoot Trail, Alaska, 1897
Actresses fording Dyea River, Alaska, 1897

Frank La Roche Photographs consists of more than 300 photographs depicting scenes of Seattle, Washington state, Alaska, and the western United States and Canada.

Frank La Roche (1853-1936) was born in Philadelphia, where he learned the trade of photography. He arrived in Seattle just after the great fire of June 1889 to find the city in ashes, but soon opened a gallery in the Kilgen block on 2nd Avenue. His studio, in addition to high-class portrait photography, specialized in scenic and industrial views of western Washington state. He produced extensive views of the Seattle waterfront, streets and buildings, early Everett land speculation, ships, logging activities, and American Indians. In addition, he traveled in California, the western United States and along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, taking scenic views which he produced for sale to travelers.

He also made numerous trips to southeastern Alaska and the Yukon Territory photographing among others, scenes during the Klondike gold rush, ca. 1897-1899. These included views of his experiences traveling from Dyea, Alaska over the Chilkoot Pass into British Columbia to reach the gold fields. He sold mounted prints of his travels, but preferred to reach a larger audience through his six-part album entitled Enroute to the Klondike. Some of the images included in this collection have been annotated from excerpts from this publication. About 1914, he moved his studio to the town of Sedro-Wooley, north of Seattle. Retiring about 1928, Frank La Roche died in Sedro-Wooley on April 12, 1936.

Lake Union Improvement Company Photograph Album

View of the waterfront at the foot of Main St., Seattle, Washington, 1891.
View of the waterfront, Seattle, 1891

The Lake Union Improvement Company of Seattle produced this small photograph album as a sales tool in 1891. Photographed by Frank La Roche, it contains an historical photographic record of early Seattle and its expansion northwards along the shores of Lake Union.

Frank La Roche (1853-1936) was born in Philadelphia, where he learned the trade of photography. He arrived in Seattle in July 1889 and established a studio that, in addition to portraits, specialized in scenic and industrial views of western Washington state and southeastern Alaska. He photographed scenes in the Yukon during the Klondike gold rush, ca. 1897-1899, and made numerous views of Seattle streets and buildings, ships, logging activities, and American Indians. He made many trips to Alaska, and also traveled in California and along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, taking scenic views which he produced for sale to travelers. About 1914, he moved his studio to the town of Sedro-Wooley, north of Seattle. Frank La Roche retired about 1928, and died in Sedro-Wooley on April 12, 1936.

About the Database

The information for the Frank La Roche Photographs was researched and prepared by the UW Libraries Special Collections staff in 1998. Research, writing, and image scanning were done by Kristin Kinsey. Additional research assistance was provided by Richard Engeman. The La Roche collection consists of vintage photographic prints and copy prints that vary in size from 4"x5" to 10"x13". The photographs were scanned using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. Some manipulation of the photographs was done to correct for color inconsistencies and to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using the UW CONTENT program. The original collection resides in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Frank La Roche Collection no. 283.

The photo album was prepared in 1891 for the Lake Union Improvement Company of Seattle for use as a sales tool by the parent organization, the L. H. Griffith Realty and Banking Company. It contains 24 photographs of Seattle by Frank La Roche, including views of the Elliott Bay waterfront, Lake Union, Lake Washington, downtown Seattle street scenes, and street railway construction of the Seattle Electric Railway and Power Company, in which Griffith also held an interest. The Lake Union Improvement Company was formed to acquire and develop land between downtown Seattle and Lake Union along a route that was developed as Westlake Avenue. The album also includes a printed "history of this Improvement Company," a blank share certificate form, a birdseye view of a portion of Seattle including the development area, and an engraved portrait of L. H. Griffith.

The information for the Lake Union Improvement Company Photograph Album was researched and prepared by the UW Libraries Special Collections staff in 1998. Research, writing, and image scanning were done by Kristin Kinsey. The collection consists of 1 album containing 24 vintage photographic prints, letterpress materials and one photoengraving. Not all photographs in the album were included in this database. The images were scanned using a Microtek Scanmaker 9600L and saved in .jpg format. The textual materials were, in most cases, reproduced as b/w xeroxes using a Minolta PS3000 copier and then scanned into digital format. Some manipulation of the photographs was done to correct for color inconsistencies and to present the clearest possible digital image. The scanned images were then linked with descriptive data using the UW CONTENT program. The original collection resides in the UW Libraries Special Collections Division as the Lake Union Improvement Company Collection no. 33.