MYNORTHWEST HISTORY

In search of your vintage Santa photos

Dec 6, 2023, 9:20 AM | Updated: 9:21 am

Stephanie Johnson-Toliver, current president of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State, sits on Santa's lap at Frederick & Nelson in downtown Seattle in 1955. (Courtesy Stephanie Johnson-Toliver)

(Courtesy Stephanie Johnson-Toliver)

As first reported by KIRO Newsradio in 2015, department store Santa Claus photos are believed to have been invented in Seattle by Art “Happy” French, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer photographer, during World War II.

In the weeks before Christmas 1943 – 80 years ago – French was inspired to go into business as a Santa photographer by watching Seattle radio actor Dave Harris playing Santa Claus in the window at the old Frederick & Nelson department store.

More from Feliks Banel: Christmas boat parade lights up Columbia River

Frederick’s was across the street from the old Seattle P-I building at Sixth Avenue & Pine Street downtown; that building now houses the Nordstrom flagship store.

To help mark the 80th anniversary of French’s inspiration, KIRO Newsradio is inviting you to share your vintage Santa photos via my Facebook page. We’ll post some of the best at MyNorthwest.com as part of an upcoming feature.

If you’re not on Facebook, you can email your Santa photo directly to me via my email address below.

You can hear Feliks every Wednesday and Friday morning on Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien, read more from him here, and subscribe to The Resident Historian Podcast here. If you have a story idea, please email Feliks here.

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In search of your vintage Santa photos