North Proctor memories

Local authors will sign copies of new Proctor District history book at twin Proctor District receptions Jan. 25

By Bill Timnick on January 24, 2008

Two of Tacoma’s Proctor District businesses, Culpepper Books and The Pacific Northwest Shop, are hosting receptions and book signings Friday evening, featuring the authors of a recently published book on the district. The twin events are set from 6-8 p.m.

“Tacoma’s Proctor District” is among the latest releases from Arcadia Publishing, which has also published books on Tacoma’s Old Town, the Lakewood, South Tacoma communities and the waterfront, among others. The current title was a joint effort by Tacoma residents Caroline Gallacci and Bill Evans.

Evans, a former Tacoma deputy mayor and council member, is also the owner (with his wife Ann) of The Pacific Northwest Shop at 2720 North Proctor. The Evans have been members of the Proctor District community for the past 30 years, since they bought the building that houses their gift shop. (They also own the Old House Mercantile shop across the street.) Ever since, the Proctor neighborhood “has been a part of my life as a walkable community,” Evans says. “And it has always had ‘history’.”

Evans and co-author Gallacci, who has already published books on the Tacoma waterfront and Old Tacoma, and is a co-founder of the Tacoma Historical Society, were given the task of reconstructing the history of the Proctor District from the hundreds of old photographs that now fill the pages of the book. Most were drawn from the archives of the Tacoma Public Library’s Northwest Room, although some pictures were borrowed from private sources.

The Proctor District evolved on the site of a curve along a streetcar line that ran through the area between downtown and Point Defiance — and which became a neighborhood and business district, one of Tacoma’s early “streetcar suburbs.” That early history and the developments of the decades that followed are represented by the photographs that have survived, each of which was then researched and described by Gallacci and Evans.

The research process took some three months, Evans recalls, to assemble and describe the photos. Was it worth the effort?

“It’s reinforced my feelings for the district,” Evans explains, “that this is a livable, walkable community. Something’s definitely ‘right’ about this community.”

The book has also stirred the memories of other residents, and former residents, of the Proctor District. Evans gets frequent visits from people who have found pictures of themselves and relatives in the pages of the book. One book buyer pointed to the image of a piano in one of the pictures: “That’s the piano,” she told Evans. “I learned to play on that piano.”

Culpepper Books, where Caroline Gallacci will be headquartered for Friday’s reception, is at 2521 North Proctor. Evans will be at his Pacific Northwest Shop venue. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres will be served at both locations. Call 253. 752.2242 for more information.