THE GEORGETOWN MORGUE (1928-1983)
Author: James Henrikson
February 12, 2000
The next morgue on our list is the Georgetown Morgue, which stands out among historic morgues, not for its unusual industrial surroundings, but for what can only be described as a series of colorful (albeit at times horrifying) events in its relatively short (and fairly recent) history.
The Georgetown Morgue, 1983
Some people have questioned why this little-known morgue made the Historic Morgue Society’s “Most Intriguing Historic Urban Morgues” list in 1999, but with a little background, the reader should have no problem understanding why.
The History of the Morgue in Seattle
History of the Georgetown Morgue:
Original Name: Kolling Mortuary Services of Seattle
Original Owner: Scottland Timothy Kolling
Original Purpose: Processing and preparation of the deceased.
Kolling Mortuary Services of Seattle constructed the 3-story facility in 1928 as a single-purpose funeral preparations facility.
Change of Ownership: 1939
New Name: Broughton Brothers Funeral Services
Owner: Charles and Henry Broughton
Owners Charles and Henry Broughton, 1946 – From Seattle Times archives
The Broughton Brothers (pictured left) purchased the facility in 1939 with more ambitious plans, transitioning it from a simple funeral preparations home to, by 1943, a 100-body-per-day Crematorium. The extended facilities were erected from the South-facing wall, including two 110-foot smoke stacks (approved by the City of Seattle but not without some degree of public outcry, see * below). In addition: Charles Broughton built a small brick home on the west side of the property, where it remains to this day.
Kolling Morgue of SeattleOn April 29th, 1965 a 5.7 magnitude earthquake rocked the Puget Sound area, and while other businesses in Seattle suffered only moderate damage, tragedy struck the Broughton Brothers when crematorium Tower 1 collapsed into the west side of the building, taking out the upper floor, and killing Charles Broughton.
Brother Henry Broughton continued the business, and necessary structural renovations included the removal of the third floor. Tower 1 was rebuilt in 1967.
Change of Ownership: 1969
New Name: The Georgetown Morgue
Owner: City of Seattle
City of Seattle’s Georgetown Morgue, 1976
The City of Seattle acquired the facility after Broughton Brothers Funeral Services defaulted on their loan. (See the bizarre backstory on that below.) Once again, the facility underwent a significant change: the City converted it to a morgue. At that time, the area was part of the Georgetown District, and the City chose the Georgetown Morgue as a suitable name. Interesting sidenote: the City did not abandon the crematorium part of the facility, and instead continued to utilize it, although this time for the purpose of processing animal carcasses for their Animal Control Department.
The City operated the Georgetown Morgue until 1983, when a modern morgue was erected in Downtown Seattle at 5th Ave S. and Seneca Street. The City offered the property for sale, but received no interested buyers until 1989 (perhaps due in part to its intriguing albeit morbid history — see * below).
Change of Ownership: 1989
Owner: Richland Processing Corp.
The Richland Processing Corporation purchased the facility from the City of Seattle with the intention of converting it to a meatpacking transfer station. They sold crematorium towers 1 & 2 to nearby Simmons Foundry Works, where they were relocated in 1990.