About 1930, fresh out of barber school, Leonard Nordine came to Seattle and set up shop at 5416 6th Ave NW, now more commonly know as the south side of Brimmer & Heeltap Restaurant. Leonard was renting, so when he saw the vacant building across the street go up for sale, he made an offer.
Over the summer (2014), I spoke with Sharon Barry, Leonard’s daughter. She told me that her father had offered the owner $37 for the building, the owner countered, stating he wanted $37.25 for it. The extra 25 cents? It was for train-fare to get out of Seattle.
Leonard now owned his own shop, 5413 6th Ave NW, and would cut hair there until his retirement in June 1990. He became a bit of a local celebrity, people would drive for miles to have Leonard cut their hair, his signature crew cut was always in demand. The Seattle Times ran a story about his retirement in 1996 and his passing in 2007.
Leonard’s Barber Shop, and Rod & Reel, 1958. Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.
Leonard’s love for cutting hair was matched only by his hatred of crows. Sharon told me that her Dad could often be found hollering at crows in their front yard at 6030 35th Ave NW. Leonard also had a BB Gun and between hair cuts at the shop would pop off a couple shots. Just to clear the air of his feather foes.
In the 1950s Leonard added rod and reel repair to his repertoire. The only place in Seattle you could get your hair cut & fix your fishing reel. I think Leonard would be pleased that his building continues to be a gathering place for neighbors, thanks to Slate Coffee Roasters and Hair by Penny B..
Leonard Nordine (right) cutting hair, 1990. Courtesy The Seattle Times.
About the building:
The actual construction date of 5415 6th Ave NW is unknown. The original property tax record card available at the Puget Sound Archives shows the building was built in 1893, but the records available online show 1928. Either way, this is one very old structure and for most of it’s life was home to a Hair Salon or Barber Shop.
While today we know this location as Slate Coffee Roasters and Hair by Penny B., it was made famous by local celebrity barber Leonard Nordine, who retired in 1990 and sold the building to an ex-Army Ranger named Monty Reed. Monty opened “Mountain Castle Arms”, the second gun shop to call our neighborhood home. Being 500 feet from West Woodland Elementary there were a lot of upset parents which resulted in the shops ultimate demise.
I found several articles from the Seattle Times showing the school PTA, and several neighborhood groups petitioned the city to shut down Monty’s shop. In the end, even City Hall fought to change the law so that firearm and liquor stores could not open within 500 feet of a school.
Mountain Castle Arms, 1992. Courtesy Puget Sound Archives.