November 14, 1914: Nellie Cornish disembarked a steamship on the Seattle waterfront and by that afternoon, the Cornish School was founded. From her autobiography, Miss Aunt Nellie, this section describes meeting with real estate agent John Ballrgeon and selecting a space for her "living idea."“The three story Boothe Building* occupied a quarter block on the corner of Broadway and Pine Streets across from the Broadway High School. Its street floor was rented to small shops, and at one time the Columbia School of Music had occupied the second and third floors.
“On that November day of unusual soft sunshine, I walked toward the building. I was shocked to see a sign in letters six feet high filling three sides along the third floor, ‘Krinke Piano School.’ I thought that probably settled the Boothe Building for me. However, when I met John Baillrgeon, he told me that there were several rooms and a small hall available on the second floor, as Mr. Krinke used only the third. After I concluded a lease for one small room at twenty dollars a month, I telephoned Martha Sackett and asked her to meet me there.
“In an empty room hung with cobwebs … She looked around … and said, ‘How can you have a music school in one room?’ Only I at that moment could see the school in its complete form. To me it was a living idea, and rooms large or small were quite incidental to the whole scheme.”
* A variant spelling of the Booth Building; the building is now part of the campus of Seattle Central Community College and known as the South Annex. The Cornish School, as it was known then, moved into Kerry Hall in 1921. That building continues to house the music and dance departments.
Listen to a 1938 interview with Nellie Cornish by Dave Crockett, Cornish Radio Studios.