Benjamin Lukoff
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When I first posted this article, I wrote that Bagley Avenue N was named for Reverend Daniel Bagley (1818–1905) and his son, Clarence B. Bagley (1843–1932). That, after all, is what Sophie Frye Bass says in Pig-Tail Days in Old Seattle, which I pretty much took as gospel growing up. Junius Rochester says the same thing in his HistoryLink.org article on the Bagleys (using, I think, Pig-Tail Days as a reference.) And C.T. Conover (himself namesake of E Conover Court) repeats the story on two separate occasions for The Seattle Times — on February 18, 1950, and April 11, 1960.

However, today (September 10, 2021), I noticed that Conover had written a follow-up to his April 11 article. On April 25, 1960, he wrote that Clarence’s son, Colonel Cecil Clarence Bagley, had sent him a letter saying that, decades previous, he had asked his father if Bagley Avenue was named for his family. Daniel said no, it was named for Dr. Herman Beardsley Bagley (1845–1899). He had filed the plat of Bagley’s Addition in 1883. A small tract northeast of what is today Gas Works Park along the Lake Union shoreline, one of its streets was named Day Street. This later needed to be changed as it was duplicative of another Day Street elsewhere in the city. (I presume this is the S Day Street in Mount Baker that was almost entirely obliterated by the construction of what is now Interstate 90.) I can’t find the ordinance in question but, Conover continues, “as this was the central street in Dr. Bagley’s addition, it was considered appropriate to rename it Bagley Avenue in his honor, and that was done.”

H.B. Bagley — after whom Bagley Viewpoint on Capitol Hill is also named (I should note that parks historian Don Sherwood, even though I think he got the namesake of W Commodore Way wrong, got the namesake of Bagley Avenue right) — was, according to his biography in A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of the City of Seattle and County of King, Washington, Including Biographies of Many of Those Who Have Passed Awayan 1868 graduate of the Cleveland Homeopathic College who did postgraduate work at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City the next year. He came to Seattle in 1874, two years after his father, Dr. Alvin Bagley, had moved here. (The elder Bagley’s Ohio home had apparently been a stop on the Underground Railroad.) He headed both the county and state homeopathic medicine societies, was a bank director, and was a city councilman in 1879 and 1880.

The biography also says he was president for a time of the Seattle Improvement Company, which appears to be another name for the Lake Washington Improvement Company, one of many schemes to build what is today the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Jennifer Ott writes for HistoryLink.org that David T. Denny, along with Bagley and J. W. George, Corliss P. Stone, Thomas Burke, Frederick H. Whitworth, Benjamin F. Day, Erasmus M. Smithers, G. M. Bowman, Guy C. Phinney, John W. Van Brocklin, and William H. Llewellyn, formed the company in 1883, and, using Chinese laborers digging by hand, dug early versions of what are now the Fremont Cut and Montlake Cut.

Dr. Herman Beardsley Bagley
Dr. Herman Beardsley Bagley

Even though it appears that Bagley Avenue N was not named for Daniel and Clarence Bagley, I’m leaving their biographical information as I originally wrote it, followed by the usual description of the street’s route.


The Bagleys came west in 1852 with, among others, Thomas Mercer and Dexter Horton, two other names familiar to those interested in Seattle history, but didn’t arrive in Seattle until 1860. The elder Bagley was one of the founders of the University of Washington in 1861; the younger was its first college student. Daniel Bagley also founded the Methodist Protestant “Little Brown Church” in 1865, so called to distinguish it from Seattle’s first church, the Methodist Episcopal “Little White Church.” (This church finally closed in 1993, by which time it had become the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church.) Clarence, who went on to marry one of Thomas Mercer’s daughters, is best remembered today for his multi-volume works on local history, including History of Seattle from the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time and History of King County, Washington.

Bagley Avenue N begins at N 35th Street and N Pacific Street and goes a mile north to the Meridian Playground/Good Shepherd Center. It resurfaces north of Green Lake at E Green Lake Drive N and goes ½ a mile to N 85th Street. Besides a block-long stretch from N 106th Street to N 107th Street and another one north of N 133rd Street, it finishes up with a ¼-mile run from N 140th Street to the northern city limits at N 145th Street. Unlike many other North Seattle avenues, the name stops there and does not continue on into Shoreline, though there is a Bagley Drive N at the Ballinger Commons housing development.

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