1978-2000 • First Avenue, Seattle, WA
Cast iron. 40" x 46" x 36".

Cast iron treeguards from molds of historic relics (bedframe and crutch) which were part of an earlier vernacular.

Oregon Hotel, 2305 First Avenue, was one of many single room occupancy (SRO) buildings that were early to mid-20th century hotels along First Avenue in Seattle. Bed frames were salvaged from some of these hotels prior to demolition and recycled to provide low-cost tree guards in order to protect young trees planted by the Belltown community, starting in the late 1970's, as part of the First Avenue Urban Arboretum.
Photo: B. Simpson. 1979.

Wood-framed, two-story SRO hotel at 2001 First Avenue, at Virginia Street, being demolished in 1977. Note the 60-year old volunteer cherry tree, one of many self-seeded cherry trees in and around the Pike Place Public Market. The tree was displaced by a condominium in 1982. A new cherry tree was planted near the original location, in the public right of way. Photo: B. Simpson.

SRO resident at 2001 First Avenue and Virginia Street, pointing out a recollection during a wake for the old wooden SRO prior to its demolition in 1977. Photo: B. Simpson.

Repurposed crutch serving as a splint to mend the broken limb of a purple plum tree at 2500 First Avenue. The purple plums were distinctive, indicating bus stops along First Avenue in Belltown. Some of the purple plums still mark former bus stop locations as demographics have shifted. Crutch was courtesy of Stewart House SRO Renovation Project. Photo: B. Simpson. 1979.

Interior view of an SRO hotel room, on the 2000 block of First Avenue, with a typically modest bed frame. These demolished hotels served as a source of repurposed SRO TREE GUARDS. Photo: unknown SRO resident photographer. Circa 1976.

SRO TREE GUARD protecting Ginkgo tree along with an understory of volunteer plants, 2018 First Avenue. Photo: B. Simpson. Circa 1983.

Bed frames were made of a light gauge metal that deteriorated over a period of 10 to 15 years. Reaching the end their life cycles, bedframes and crutches were used to create a cast iron foundry pattern. Circa 1996.

A foundry pattern was created in 1998 from original bed frames and crutches. From the pattern, an edition of cast iron tree guards were made using melted down automobile engine blocks.

Two tree guards were sited on First Avenue to protect young American Liberty Elms, planted to replace Elm trees lost during the construction of the Concord Condominium, 2929 First Avenue. Typically, when trees reach a resilient size, the tree guards are redeployed to another location.

A social gathering scene on First Avenue at Bell Street, complemented by a recently planted native flowering dogwood with an SRO TREE GUARD, 2019. The SRO hotels along First Avenue have been replaced with a mixture of high-density housing. At this location, 2225 First Avenue, the Apex Co-Op offers an affordable cooperative living option. Photo: B. Simpson 2019.

Prototype for a neighborhood lobby table (elegant glass top not shown). Two SRO TREE GUARDS support the foundry pattern, which would be on loan and available to the community for future cast iron tree guards. Its public presence is a reminder of its utility.

Site Design: Todd Metten