Leonard Nordine was Ballard’s Barber

This story was originally shared on Facebook, November 2014.  See posts here and here.  

About 1930, fresh out of barber school, Leonard Nordine came to Seattle and set up shop at 5416 6th Ave NW, now more commonly know as the south side of Brimmer & Heeltap Restaurant. Leonard was renting, so when he saw the vacant building across the street go up for sale, he made an offer.

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Leonard’s original barbershop, 1937.  Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.

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Over the summer (2014), I spoke with Sharon Barry, Leonard’s daughter. She told me that her father had offered the owner $37 for the building, the owner countered, stating he wanted $37.25 for it. The extra 25 cents? It was for train-fare to get out of Seattle.

Leonard now owned his own shop, 5413 6th Ave NW, and would cut hair there until his retirement in June 1990. He became a bit of a local celebrity, people would drive for miles to have Leonard cut their hair, his signature crew cut was always in demand. The Seattle Times ran a story about his retirement in 1996 and his passing in 2007.

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Leonard’s Barber Shop, and Rod & Reel, 1958.  Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.

Leonard’s love for cutting hair was matched only by his hatred of crows. Sharon told me that her Dad could often be found hollering at crows in their front yard at 6030 35th Ave NW. Leonard also had a BB Gun and between hair cuts at the shop would pop off a couple shots. Just to clear the air of his feather foes.

In the 1950s Leonard added rod and reel repair to his repertoire. The only place in Seattle you could get your hair cut & fix your fishing reel. I think Leonard would be pleased that his building continues to be a gathering place for neighbors, thanks to Slate Coffee Roasters and Hair by Penny B..

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Leonard Nordine (right) cutting hair, 1990.  Courtesy The Seattle Times.

About the building:

The actual construction date of 5415 6th Ave NW is unknown. The original property tax record card available at the Puget Sound Archives shows the building was built in 1893, but the records available online show 1928. Either way, this is one very old structure and for most of it’s life was home to a Hair Salon or Barber Shop.

While today we know this location as Slate Coffee Roasters and Hair by Penny B., it was made famous by local celebrity barber Leonard Nordine, who retired in 1990 and sold the building to an ex-Army Ranger named Monty Reed. Monty opened “Mountain Castle Arms”, the second gun shop to call our neighborhood home. Being 500 feet from West Woodland Elementary there were a lot of upset parents which resulted in the shops ultimate demise.

I found several articles from the Seattle Times showing the school PTA, and several neighborhood groups petitioned the city to shut down Monty’s shop. In the end, even City Hall fought to change the law so that firearm and liquor stores could not open within 500 feet of a school.

 

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Mountain Castle Arms, 1992.  Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.

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Then & Now: The Woodland Theater

The Woodland Theater, built in 1926, was one of the last silent movie theaters built in Seattle. “Talkies” were already growing in popularity and by the 1930’s many theaters in the US were showing movies that no longer needed subtitles or a house organ for entertainment. When this 600 seat theater was built a Kimball Pipe Organ was also installed. The organ was the “special effects” for the Woodland Theater and provided accompaniment during the movies and concerts between showings.

While shops have come and gone along NW 65th and buildings have been razed, the old Woodland Theater continues to live on.  The theater building is currently in use as a concert venue called The Josephine, and as a print shop, storage & practice space. The old Kimball pipe organ continues to live on as well and is currently in use at the Everett Theater (2911 Colby Ave, Everett).

About the photos below:

When comparing the two photos, you can see that the entrance façade has undergone several cosmetic changes. The “Now” photos shows a stone façade that was added in the mid 1950’s. The entrance was closed in at a later date, but the roof line has stayed the same. In the wide view “Now” photo, you can see that the theater seating area, or the “house”, is behind a row of store fronts which have all been converted into one business, Advanced Sign Design.

There were two movies showing the day the “Then” photo was taken in 1932, Ladies of the Jury and Broken Wing. The “Then” photo also shows a confectionery to the west of the theater, which is now home to Molly Maguire’s.

The Woodland Theater has survived on NW 65th now for 84 years. During this time the building has been used as a movie theater, an indoor ski park, a medical device maker, print shop and concert venue. The building survived water damage in the 1960’s and a fire in the 1970’s. More on these events in a later post.

Woodland Theater - 1926

Woodland Theater - then and now

The black & white photo of the Woodland Theater, circa 1926, courtesy Cinema Treasures.