Seattle’s Hat ‘n’ Boots Finds A New Home – 12/13/2003

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Seattle preservationists put the Hat ‘n’ Boots Tex Gas Station icon onto a tractor-trailer and left behind the exact spot where it had rested on for roughly fifty years on December 13th, 2003. First to go was a forty-four-foot-wide Stetson and the next to go was the twenty-two-foot-tall cowboy boots which had to be relocated one at a time. The monstrous hat had been primarily for display as it perched atop the office of the filling station in order to attract drivers from the highway. On the other hand, the boots exceeding functional as the right boot was the women’s bathroom while the left boot was used for the men’s bathroom. The structures were well-known examples of mid-century roadside Pop Art that viewers who pay close attention to the opening credits to the movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation” can see them; it was saved from being destroyed thanks to the decision to relocate it to a park that was nearby.

The Hat ‘n’ Boots was constructed in 1955 by a developer named Buford Seals whose intention was for it to be the centerpiece to Frontier Village which was to be a huge shopping center. The location was alongside Route 99, this was the Pacific Northwest’s most important north-south highway; Seals was sure that by finding a way to get people’s attention that they would rush in to his mall. Therefore, he enlisted the services of an artist named Lewis H. Nasmyth to create the huge structure; the both of them constructed it on their own by using chicken wire, steel beams and plaster. The price for this was $150,000 and it nearly depleted Seals’ cash flow. Once the filling-station was completed, Seals was able to gather enough money to construct an ordinary-looking Frontier Village Supermarket; unfortunately, the 184 remaining stores for the mall never happened.

Ironically, the shopping center and the supermarket quickly went out of business while the gas station, for a while, had better luck. Interestingly, the Hat ‘n’ The Hat ‘n’ Boots was constructed in 1955 by a developer named Buford Seals whose intention was for it to be the centerpiece to Frontier Village which was to be a huge shopping center. The location was alongside Route 99, this was the Pacific Northwest’s most important north-south highway; Seals was sure that by finding a way to get people’s attention that they would rush in to his mall. Therefore, he enlisted the services of an artist named Lewis H. Nasmyth to create the huge structure; the both of them constructed it on their own by using chicken wire, steel beams and plaster. The price for this was $150,000 and it nearly depleted Seals’ cash flow. Once the filling-station was completed, Seals was able to gather enough money to construct an ordinary-looking Frontier Village Supermarket; unfortunately, the 184 remaining stores for the mall never happened.

Interestingly, the Hat ‘n’ Boots had their gasoline being purchased more than any other filling station in Washington for the first five years that it opened their doors to the public; there was even a rumor that Elvis had even pumped gas at the location! Sadly, competition started to increase as Interstate five became more modern in which it drained a majority of Route 99’s traffic located only a few miles away; the Hat ’n’ Boots mostly became a tourist interest in which the station finally closed in 1988.

While this seems to have a sad ending, there is a silver lining in the storm clouds that was located over the Hat ‘n’ Boots. The iconic structure made its’ way to their new location at Oxbow Park and it was noticed immediately the horrible shape the boots were in. Quickly, restoration began on the boots and in 2007, Seattle city officials agreed to spend $150,000 to restore the hat as well.

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Nancy Reyes

Senior Writer

One of our top senior writers, Nancy came to us wanting to break away from the politics that comes with major news corporations. She leads our team of historical writers in creating the best engaging content out there that keeps our readers coming back for more. She is an enthusiast of all things medieval and has been a member of her renaissance fair group for 15 years. She received her degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California and hopes to one day travel the world.