Fairley Building, high stalls

High stalls near the Athenian

High stalls near the Athenian

Walk into the Main Arcade, and continue north. Take a moment to stop in an innocuous spot near the entrance to the Athenian. This shed addition from 1907 is technically called the Fairley Building, after one of the original partners in the Public Market and Department Store Company that ran the market in its early days. Only the main market level is accessible from our current location, however it continues to extend seven floors down along the hillside to Western Avenue. The structure is a series of one-story wooden bays infilled with utilitarian wall panels, punctuated by regular entries into the building to access the stalls and the Main Arcade itself. The Main Arcade in fact runs through the now-expanded Leland Building and through the Fairley, and includes permanent day-stall tables simply made of wood construction with galvanized-metal tops. At the center of the Main Arcade is a group of eight ‘high stalls.’ These are the original and highly-controversial ‘Goodwin Group’ stalls, established in 1920 in an effort to keep produce coming into the market year-round, but nearly inaccessible to the farmers that the Market was created to support. Many of these retain their historic signage above the stalls and employ traditional fruit and vegetable display methods that use high wooden tables and boxes surrounding the perimeter of the stalls.

The Goodwins ran the Market on the precept that the fresher the food, the greater the nutritional value. His desire to see produce sold quickly is reflected in the designs for the Main Arcade, and were mirrored by his nephew Arthur in his book Markets: Public & Private, “To the architect: Utility and economy rather than ornamental and costly construction should be the objective.” In fact, it would not be until a 1914 expansion that the Main Arcade got a beauty treatment – steel columns capped with ornamental and sheet metal capitols, festooned with fruits of all kinds, clusters of 75-watt light bulbs and accent lighting along the ceiling. It was around this time that flower boxes began to be installed along the roof edges of the Main Market. Likewise, the iconic signage indicating the main complex of the market was first installed in 1912. The iconic “Public Market Center” sign and clock seen today were installed around 1937. Seattle architect Andrew Willatsen designed the new Moderne “Farmers Market” sign above the entrance to the Main Arcade.

Manning & Co. was established around 1908 in the space currently occupied by Lowell’s. One of the earliest tenants in the Fairley Building, by the 1930s it had grown to a Pacific Coast chain with outlets from Bellingham to San Diego. In the 1960’s, Manning’s was a popular hangout for Market ‘old-timers’, who would gather and enjoy their 5-cent cups of coffee. In the years after the citizen’s ordinance of 1971, the idea for a Market Senior Center grew out of this meeting space. Located today in the LaSalle Building, local low-income seniors can still gather for hot food and 5-cent coffee.

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