This commercial property is significant due to its association with the Jewish community in South Seattle.
This multi-use retail and residential property is located just south of Columbia City, on Rainier Avenue. While its date of construction is unknown, the Polk Directories show that, from 1927 through 1955, the building operated as a meat market: first as Schumann & Schumann; and, later, as Schumann’s Market. Charles and Irma Schumann were of Jewish descent and were owners of Schumann’s Market. They lived nearby in Mount Baker. After Schumann’s closed, the property was vacant for many years, through 1969. Today, it operates as a mixed-use apartment building.
Substantial residential and commercial development in South Seattle and the Rainier Valley occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue during the late nineteenth century. Development in the valley was facilitated by logging during the 1880s, the operation of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway in the 1890s, and the Jackson and Dearborn Street re-grades in the 1900s. Milling was the primary commercial industry during the last part of the nineteenth century although some agricultural activity existed. As residential development increased, Rainier Avenue gradually became the principal commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods of South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts. World War II brought additional building growth related to the wartime industry, as well as the influx of defense workers to nearby Boeing and the Duwamish shipyards.
During the 1850s, German Jewish immigrants moved into the Central District in Seattle. Yiddish-speaking Jews from Russia and Poland also settled in the Central District and Pioneer Square. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, Sephardic Jews from the Isle of Rhodes and Turkey immigrated to the area. Those from Turkey formed the Sephardic Bikur Holim congregation, and those from the Isle of Rhodes formed Ezra Bessarott Turkish congregation. During the early 1950s, as many African American families moved into the Central District of Seattle and as Jewish families increased in prosperity, many Jewish families began moving out of the Central District to South Seattle, the Eastside, and North Seattle. While a few Jewish families lived in South Seattle during the first few decades of the twentieth century, movement southward began on a larger scale in the 1950s with move of a number of Orthodox families. During the late 1950s and 1960s, several congregations also relocated, including the Ezra Bessaroth congregation, Sephardic Bikur Holim, and Bikur Cholim.
This commercial property represents the early presence of Jews in South Seattle. The owner’s personal residence in Mount Baker, an exclusive and upper-income residential neighborhood in South Seattle, also reflects the increasing prosperity of Jews throughout the twentieth century.