William O. McKay Companies and Pacific Lincoln Mercury Collection, circa 1922-1990  PDF

Overview of the Collection

McKay, William O., 1887-1956
William O. McKay Companies and Pacific Lincoln Mercury Collection
circa 1922-1990 (inclusive)
1 box, (.42 cubic feet)
Collection Number
Ledger books, photographs, certificates, correspondence and clippings relating to William O. McKay Company, McKay Finance Company and Pacific Lincoln-Mercury-Nissan
Museum of History & Industry, Sophie Frye Bass Library
Sophie Frye Bass Library
Museum of History & Industry
P.O. Box 80816
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-324-1126
Fax: 206-780-1533
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public by appointment.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

William O. McKay (1887-1956) was born in California and arrived in Seattle with his family in 1898. McKay attended the University of Washington, but left before graduating to begin a career in the automobile business. During World War I he fought in France as a Marine Corps infantry officer. After the war, McKay worked as a sales representative for Ford Motor Company.

In 1922, he formed the William O. McKay Company. His quick success enabled him to move from a leased lot on Capitol Hill to his own building located at Westlake Avenue and Mercer Streets. Built in 1922, the South Lake Union Ford Showroom was adjacent to the Ford Assembly Plant, where cars were assembled for local sale. Three years later, he built an ornate, one-story terra cotta showroom to display the line of luxury Lincolns he added to his inventory. Created by architects Harlan Thomas and Clyde Grainger, designers of Seattle’s Sorrento Hotel, the showroom entrance had an elaborate carved wooden archway and featured a large chandelier and Ionic columns. In 2006, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board designated the South Lake Union showroom as a city landmark.

McKay was a life-long civic leader, active in the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, Community Fund drives and various automotive organizations. He was a visionary for the Seattle Seafair celebration, and in 1951 was crowned Neptune Rex II, the second Seafair king. An avid Seattle booster, he predicted the rapid expansion of the automobile industry. He died in 1956, while cruising with his wife in the Fiji Islands.

Ralph Grossman (1913-1996) was born in Chicago. He went to work at age 9 to support his family, and by age 22 he was the youngest district manager in the Walgreens Drug store chain. He moved to Seattle in 1939, where he first operated a theater. He began selling cars for William O. McKay in 1949, and the dealership often loaned Lincolns to visiting politicians and celebrities. At the time of his death at age 83, he was the vice president at the 58-year old Pacific Lincoln-Mercury-Nissan dealership, formerly William O. McKay Ford. He was active in civic affairs, helping to launch the Seattle Civic Christmas Ship and the Variety Club Telethon, which raised money for Children’s Hospital. After World War II, he and William O. McKay organized a victory parade featuring community leaders called the “Seattle Salts.” In 1956, the group evolved into the first Seafair festival. Grossman was later referred to as the “Father of Seafair.” Grossman ran for Congress in 1948 and Seattle City Council in 1956.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection of photographs, color snapshots and postcards include various models of Lincoln cars, views of the Pacific Lincoln Mercury showroom and service entrance, and images of Ralph Grossman with visiting politicians. The correspondence, certificates and published articles relate primarily to the sales career and civic activities of Ralph Grossman. Newspaper clippings include car advertisements for the Pacific Lincoln-Mercury-Nissan dealership. The bound business ledger books for McKay Finance Company, Motors Finance Company and William O. McKay Company contain articles of incorporation, business licenses, meeting minutes, correspondence, shareholder notices and certificates of voluntary dissolution.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

View selections from the collection in digital format by clicking on the camera icons in the inventory below.

Restrictions on Use

The Museum of History & Industry is the owner of the materials in the Sophie Frye Bass Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from MOHAI before any reproduction use. The museum does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.

Preferred Citation

William O. McKay Companies and Pacific Lincoln Mercury Collection , Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Photographs and postcardsReturn to Top

Description Dates
2007.11.4:  Ralph Grossman shaking hands with German consul, with Howard Parish and Mrs. O.M. Lamson looking on
Gene Weber from Fred Carter Photographer, Seattle (photographer)
1 black & white photograph8 x 10 in.
This photo was probably taken after the "Christmas Ship" relief drive distributed food, clothing and other supplies collected in the Pacific Northwest to American-occupied Germany and Austria. Ralph Grossman and Fire Chief Howard Parish were co-chairs of the Christmas Ship drive, and Mrs. O.M. Lamson was on the Washington state committee. The three were among a group of seven representatives who traveled to Europe to the meet the Christmas Ship on its arrival in Bremen in March 1948.
2007.11.5: Lincoln convertible and riders in a parade
Central Studios, Atlantic City, NJ (photographer)
1 black & white photograph8 x 10 in.
Written on door of car: "Commander-in-Chief Byron B. Gentry." Gentry was elected Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1962
circa 1962
circa 1965
2007.11.7: Ralph Grossman and unidentified man with March of Dimes child
1 black & white photograph8 x 10 in.
circa 1960
2007.11.8: 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible at auto show
1 black & white photograph8 x 10 in.
1965 November
circa 1955
2007.11.10: Lincoln Continental 4-door sedan
2007.11.11: Lincoln Continental Mark III
2007.11.12: Lincoln Continental Mark IV
2007.11.13: Lincoln Continental Mark IV
2007.11.14: Lincoln Town Car in parking lot
Color snapshot
2007.11.15: Lincoln showroom with Chinese customers
Color snapshotHandwritten on photo: China bound Lincoln
circa 1980
2007.11.16: 1965 Lincoln parked outdoors
Color snapshot
circa 1980
2007.11.17: Pacific Lincoln Mercury storefront
Color snapshotSign in window: Happy Birthday to Ralph. The Grandest Gentleman of the Century!
circa 1970
2007.11.18: Three men near Lincoln in parking lot
Color snapshot
circa 1978
2007.11.19: Pacific Lincoln Mercury service entrance
Color snapshot
circa 1975

Ralph Grossman correspondence and ephemeraReturn to Top

2007.11.20: Letter of thanks from labor leader Dave Beck
Probably related to Beck's election as president of the Teamsters.
1952 November 14
2007.11.21: Letter of thanks from Mayor William Devin
For Grossman's work in helping to welcome the "Merci Car." The Merci Car, a 48-car train, was a gift from Europe in thanks for relief supplies sent to France and Italy by the US in 1947.
1949 March 16
2007.11.22: Letter from Warren Magnuson to Max Silver regarding Ralph Grossman
Regarding the post of Regional Director of the Office of Price Stabilization.
1950 December 26
2007.11.23: Letter from Henry Jackson to Ralph Grossman
Regarding the post of Regional Director of the Office of Price Stabilization.
1950 December 18
2007.11.24: Letter from Henry Jackson to Ralph Grossman
Regarding the post of Regional Director of the Office of Price Stabilization.
1950 December 20
2007.11.25: Letter from International Shipping Company to Ralph Grossman regarding Northwest Christmas Ship
1948 February 20
2007.11.26: Lincoln Mercury Sales Council Inner Circle certificate for Ralph Grossman
2007.11.27: Industrial College of the Armed Forces National Security Seminar certificate of course completion for Ralph Grossman
2007.11.28: State of Washington certificate of appreciation for Ralph Grossman
"For your contribution to the funding and restoration of this state's historical seal."
2007.11.29: State of Washington Distinguished Citizen certificate for Ralph Grossman
1972 February 22
2007.11.30: Ralph Grossman for City Council, election flier
2007.11.31: Ralph Grossman for U.S. Congress, election flier
2007.11.32: Pacific Lincoln advertisement clipping featuring Ralph Grossman
circa 1970
2007.11.33: Seattle Business issue, listing the nominees (including Grossman) for vacancies on the Seattle Chamber of Commerce board
1965 May 11
2007.11.34: Seattle Business issue, Chamber of Commerce profile on Ralph Grossman
2007.11.35: Ralph Grossman Pacific Lincoln-Mercury Nissan business card
circa 1975
2007.11.36: Ralph Grossman business letterhead, Pacific Lincoln Continental
circa 1975

William O. McKay companies business recordsReturn to Top

Description Dates
2007.11.1-.2: Stock certificates, McKay Appliance Company
2007.11.3: Stock certificate, TAM Engineering Corporation
2007.11.58: McKay Finance Company ledger book
Articles of incorporation, business licenses, meeting minutes, correspondence, certificate of voluntary dissolution.
2007.11.59: Motors Finance Corporation ledger book
Articles of incorporation, by-laws, stockholder meeting notices, minutes, correspondence.
2007.11.60: William O. McKay Company, Inc. ledger book
Articles of incorporation, business licenses, meeting minutes, shareholder notices, certificate of voluntary dissolution.

Newspapers clippingsReturn to Top

Most of the newspapers clippings are photocopies of the original clippings.

Description Dates
2007.11.38-.43: Pacific Lincoln Mercury newspaper advertisements
2007.11.44-.46: Seattle Post Intelligencer, Emmett Watson column and photographs of Lincoln being loaded on a Boeing plane
2007.11.47: Newspaper photograph of Ralph Grossman presenting a check to the Children's Orthopedic Board
circa 1975
2007.11.48-.52: Seattle Times newspaper articles about Ralph Grossman
2007.11.53-.57: Pacific Lincoln Mercury newspaper advertisements and sales brochure
circa 1990

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Automobile dealerships--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Business enterprises--Washington (State)--Seattle
  • Lincoln automobile
  • Personal Names :
  • Grossman, Ralph, 1913-1996
  • Geographical Names :
  • Seattle (Wash.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Business records
  • Photographic prints
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Pacific Lincoln Mercury (Seattle, Wash.) (creator)