Tag Archives: italians on beacon hill

Beacon Hill past and present: Hothouse no more

East end of Antonio Ditore's hothouse, 1817 21st Avenue South, showing the high water mark after a flood in May, 1923. Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.
East end of Antonio Ditore's hothouse, 1817 21st Avenue South, showing the high water mark after a flood in May, 1923. Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives.

The same site today, no longer growing much.
The same site today, no longer growing much.

At first glance this is one of the less-recognizable past/present photos we have. In 1923, there was a considerable amount of farming in this lower Beacon Hill/upper Rainier Valley area, an Italian neighborhood, but now this spot just off Rainier Avenue, in the 1800 block of 21st Avenue South, is just a big ugly warehouse.

Still, something has survived. See the apartment building behind Mr. Ditore’s hot house? If you move just a bit further north on 21st, you can see it:

It’s the blue apartment building shown here. The house directly south of the apartment building made it to the 21st century, but, sadly, was just recently demolished. (You can still see it — a charming little bungalow — in Google’s Street View, though. The house seen in our photo just south of the apartment building is not the same house — it’s one lot further south.)

The Polk Directory for Seattle in 1923 lists Antonio Ditore, a gardener, and his wife Grace residing at this address. Though the 1923 photo is captioned “E. Ditore,” this seems likely to be Antonio. You can read more about Antonio Ditore, one of the farmers who sold at the Pike Place Market on its opening day in 1907, and see a picture of him years later with his garlic crop. (Scroll down to the post by John Ditore.)

Angetina Isernio, 1906-2009

Angetina Isernio, a long time Beacon Hill resident and mother of Frank Isernio of Isernio’s Sausage fame, passed away on February 15 at the age of 102 years old.

She was born in San Marco la Catola, Italy, in 1906. Her family later settled on Beacon Hill, where she met and married Frank Isernio Sr., who was born here in Seattle and, along with his brothers, farmed land in what is now part of Boeing Field, and sold produce at Pike Place Market. She raised rabbits and chickens in the backyard of their Beacon Hill family home (where she lived for 70 years of her life) while Frank Sr. raised vegetables. Together, they raised two children, Gloria and Frank.

Angetina’s homemade sausages from the family recipe eventually inspired Frank Jr. to found his gourmet sausage business. Angetina made a special effort to contribute to his success, by going around to local grocery stores and asking the meat department managers “Do you have any of that wonderful new Isernio’s Italian Sausage?”

A funeral mass and life celebration will be held at Saint George Catholic Church, 5306 13th Avenue South, this Saturday, February 21, 10:00 am. There is an online guestbook/memory book to post your memories of Angetina Isernio.