Bella Weretnikow & L.N. Rosenbaum

If you'd like to make a tribute or contribute message in response to this exhibit, please visit the WSJHS tribute page.

Generously sponsored by Judith W. Rosenthal z"l, a dedicated supporter of preserving history, in loving memory of her grandparents L.N. and Bella. Additional support from other family members includes Elizabeth Richter.


In 1901, the American Israelite, a Jewish weekly, included an announcement of Bella Weretnikow's graduation from the University of Washington's brand-new law school. Nashville lawyer Lewis Newman (L.N.) Rosenbaum saw the announcement and wrote to Bella. She responded. As a result of their correspondence, L.N. moved to Seattle in 1903 where he too was admitted to the Washington state bar. Bella and L.N. married in 1905 and raised five children. During their fifty year marriage, the Rosenbaums lived in Seattle and in New York City. L.N. passed away in 1956 and Bella in 1960.

Photos and documents donated by Judith W. Rosenthal.

Bella Weretnikow Rosenbaum portrait, Seattle, Washington, 1905

Bella Weretnikow, who became the first Jewish woman lawyer in Washington State, was born in Russia in 1880. Seeking better luck in America, her family left Russia in 1882 and arrived at Castle Garden. They were sent with a group of Jews to settle in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1893, they traveled west by train and moved to Seattle. There, Bella attended a public high school and then entered the University of Washington at age 16. She graduated in 1900 with a bachelor's degree in political and social science, with honors in German, and another bachelor's degree in pedagogy.

Weretnikow began her first year at the new University of Washington Law School while at the same time finishing her senior undergraduate year. She therefore was able to graduate from law school on May 31, 1901, one of two women in a class of fifteen. Hers was the first class to graduate from the brand-new law school. Just six days later, on June 6, 1901, Bella Weretnikow was admitted to the Washington state bar. (Jewish Women's Archive)

Family History

Map of Ukraine

Eliza Marks, mother of Bella Weretnikow, aged 62, 1921

Eliza Marks, a Russian Jewish immigrant who ran a shop on Seattle's waterfront, was the mother of Bella Weretnikow, one of two women in the University of Washington's first law school class in 1901.

Grave of Eliza Marks (ca. 1860-1922), mother of Bella Weretnikow, Bikur Cholim

Eliza Weretnikow Marks was born ca. 1860 and died on March 8, 1922. She is buried in the cemetery at Bikur Cholim. (1340 N 115th St, Seattle, WA)

Zachariah Weretnikow, father of Bella Weretnikow, ca. 1890s

Zachariah Weretnikow, a Russian Jewish immigrant and Talmudic scholar, was the father of Bella Weretnikow Rosenbaum, one of two women in the University of Washington's first law school class in 1901.

Zachariah Weretnikow (1852-1937) spent the final years of his life in the Kline Galland Home for the aged at 7500 Seward Park Avenue. He was the 24th applicant to the home. He entered in 1921 and died in 1937 and is buried in Herzl Memorial Park.

Grave of Zachariah Weretnikow (1852-1937), Herzl Memorial Park (16501 Dayton Ave N, Seattle, WA).

Courtship and Marriage

Bella Weretnikow (right) with friend Emma Edwards (center) and unidentified woman, probably Seattle, Washington, ca. 1890s

After her 1901 graduation from Law School and admission to the Washington bar, Weretnikow found work in the law office of Frederick R. Burch, and soon won her first case in King County Superior Court. In addition, she continued to help run her mother's dry-goods store and manage property belonging to the family. Her law career, however, came to an end in 1905. Like many women of her generation, Weretniknow left the professional arena upon her marriage. Lewis N. Rosenbaum had seen a few lines in the American Israelite newspaper announcing Weretnikow's graduation from law school, contacted the young woman, and soon moved from Tennessee to Seattle to woo and wed her. He, too, was a lawyer.

The Rosenbaums lived alternately in New York and Seattle during the course of a marriage that lasted fifty years, until Lewis's death in 1956. Together, they raised five children (Adrian, Joseph, Frances, Ruth, and Doris) and were active in their local synagogues. Bella wrote an autobiography, today housed at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, excerpts of which were published in the American Jewish Archives Journal in 1967. Bella Weretnikow Rosenbaum died on December 17, 1960. (Jewish Women's Archive)

Article about Bella

Click the image below to read the full document (PDF)

Lewis N. (L.N.) Rosenbaum, probably Nashville, Tennessee, ca. 1900

L.N. Rosenbaum’s parents and siblings immigrated from Austria-Hungary and arrived in New York City in 1882. They lived in a tenement on the lower East Side. As a very young man with only a grammar school education, L.N. traveled to Nashville, TN, in search of an allegedly wealthy uncle. Instead, he ended up clerking for a local attorney, and as a result, twenty-one year old L.N. was admitted to the Tennessee bar in March of 1901. Sometime between 1902 and 1903, L.N. moved to Seattle after corresponding with Bella Weretnikow. LN was admitted to the Washington bar in February of 1903 and married Bella Weretnikow in 1905.

Bella and LN's Certificate of Marriage

Capitol Hill Seattle Blog Articles

The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog hosts a four part series on the history of the Summit neighborhood and its relationship with Bella Weretnikow and L.N. Rosenbaum.  Click a link below to visit the corresponding article on their site:

  1. Love letters shaped our city

  2. Home is where the park is

  3. Forgotten plans for our Hill

  4. Cashing in on the Summit real estate boom

Home and Children

Homes lived in by Bella and L.N. ca. 1907 (Top) and ca. 1930 (Bottom, as it stands in 2018)

According to the Seattle City Directories: The Rosenbaums first lived at 209 Yesler Way (1905); then at 202 Summit Ave. North (1907); next at 919 Boylston Ave. North (1909); then at 917 East Jefferson (1912-1913) which was Eliza Marks, Bella’s mother’s home; then the Rosenbaum family left Seattle for NYC; when they return to Seattle, they lived at 2836 11th Avenue North (1927-1929) and finally at 1000 East Garfield in 1930; they then returned to New York.

Bella Weretnikow Rosenbaum with two of her children, Joseph (in arms) and Adrian, Seattle, Washington, 1909

Bella and L.N. raised five children, three sons and two daughters .

Bella and L.N. Rosenbaum, 1917, with their four oldest children: Adrian, Joseph, Francis, and baby Ruth

Lewis N. (L.N.) Rosenbaum, probably Brooklyn, New York, 1917

In 1912, when L.N. Rosenbaum was threatened with disbarment in the State of Washington, he resigned from the bar and returned to New York City. Shortly thereafter, his wife and children followed him east, and the family settled in Brooklyn. L.N. rented an office on Wall Street where he arranged loans and financing for various organizations and prospered financially. He became involved in the reorganization of businesses and along with several associates, in real estate ventures. The 1912 disbarment case against L.N. in Seattle was dismissed in 1913. Unfortunately, the cloud of the alleged disbarment hung over his head, and in June of 1939, L.N. was reinstated to the bar in the State of Washington.

Real Estate and the Paramount

An Advertisement of Properties Across the U.S. for Sale by LN and His Syndicate in 1925.

L.N. Rosenbaum and his associates bought, sold, and leased high end real estate across the United States. Pictured in the advertisement below are some of their properties in 1925: the Flatiron Building in New York City, the Coca Cola Building in Kansas City, the Transportation Building & Annex in Minneapolis, the New York Life Building in Kansas City, Missouri, the Railway Exchange Building in Seattle, and the Metropolitan Life Building in Minneapolis.

Lewis N. (L.N.) Rosenbaum seated in open carriage-like vehicle, probably Brooklyn, New York, ca. 1930

The Rosenbaum family left Brooklyn and returned to Seattle around 1926. They first lived at 2836 11th Avenue North and then at 1000 East Garfield. It was during this period that L.N. built the Seattle Theatre (later renamed the Paramount Theatre) which opened on the evening of March 1, 1928. It is hard to imagine that at one time the southeast corner of Ninth and Pine was considered too far from the Seattle metropolitan area to be of any commercial value. L.N. Rosenbaum, who represented a syndicate of East Coast businessmen and capitalists, purchased the property for $240,000. Rosenbaum had persuaded movie mogul Adolph Zukor, president of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, and W.S. Hammons, head of a banking house of the same name, to build a theatre on this property, leasing it from Rosenbaum and his associates.

Seattle Theater (Now Paramount) on Opening Night

Article about L.N. Rosenbaum and the Paramount

Click the image below to view the full document (PDF)

"1928 Model T Fords, top hats, and thousands of people spilling out onto 9th and Pike. It's the opening of Seattle's Paramount Theatre (originally called the Seattle Theatre). Now that rich history is archived in the new, fourth-floor Paramount library."

Judith Rosenthal is the the granddaughter of L.N. Rosenbaum, the man who built the iconic theater. She was in Seattle in 2012 to speak at the opening of its new library.

L.N.'s family arrived in this country in 1887 and settled in New York's Lower East Side when he was about six years old. He grew up to become a lawyer, admitted to the bar in Tennessee in 1901. After living in New York and Tennessee, he made his way to Seattle where he married and began raising a family. (Judith's mother was L.N.'s fourth child.)

L.N. Rosenbaum was larger than life

"He was a financial advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was considered for an ambassadorship to Russia," recalls Judith. Rosenbaum's vision would set the stage for decades to come

From performances by cowboy humorist Will Rogers in the 1930's to the present with British pop singer Adele's recent concert, Paramount's entertainment history is long and storied. Silent films, movies, singers, bands, and comedians - more than 12,000 in total have performed there. They are all chronicled in its new library. Posters, programs, memorabilia abound, including material from the Paramount's sister theaters The Moore and The Neptune which are all part of the Seattle Theatre Group (STG).

L.N. Rosenbaum was also remembered for his aroma

"He ate a clove of garlic every day because the doctor said it would be good for his blood pressure," said Judith. "He smoked Havana cigars. So between the smell of the garlic and the smoke there was just sort of a cloud around him." Judith said that L.N.'s kids got free passes to take their friends to the movies at the Paramount. Some of his children even helped paint the interior and would come home with gold leaf splattered on their clothes.

Today, the Paramount Theater continues to host a variety of shows. Coming up are the musicals The Book of Mormon and War Horse. And you can guarantee the programs and any memorabilia from those shows will go into the theater's library, along with memories from shows well into the future." (KNKX)

Fani Rosenbaum's Memorial

Fani Rosenbaum was LN's mother; the Rosenbaum family arrived in NYC by the early 1880s and lived in a tenement on the lower East Side. Fani was abandoned by her husband, David. Alone, Fani raised numerous children. LN was her most successful child, at times providing employment for some of his siblings and always caring for his mother. When Fani died in 1910, she was among the first to be buried in Herzl Memorial Park. To honor her memory, LN built the Fani Newman Memorial Chapel in Herzl Memorial Park. The Chapel, dedicated in 1937, was designed by B. Marcus Priteca, a Scottish Jew.

Park Memorial to be Dedicated

The Seattle Daily Times, Sept. 3, 1937.

Mayor LaGuardia Hails Rosenbaum

The Jewish Transcript (Seattle), Sept. 17, 1937.

Article about Fani Rosenbaum

Grave of Fani Rosenbaum (1852-1910), mother of L.N. Rosenbaum, in Herzl Memorial Park

Later Life

Bella and L.N. Rosenbaum, ca. 1954, at the Community Synagogue in Rye, NY

In the 1940’s, Bella and L.N. gave up their apartment on Park Avenue in New York City and purchased a home in Rye, NY. Their daughter Ruth and her family lived down the street. L.N. remained involved in the real estate business with an office on Fifth Avenue. Bella and L.N. were founding members of the Community Synagogue in Rye, NY. They continued to live in their home in Rye until L.N.’s death in 1956.

Bella and L.N. Rosenbaum in March of 1947 with their five children and spouses, and one granddaughter

Bella and L.N Rosenbaum celebrating their Golden Anniversary surrounded by six grandchildren

Bella and L.N. Rosenbaum at the Community Synagogue, Rye, NY, March 1955, celebrating their Golden Anniversary and surrounded by six grandchildren.

Article about L.N. Rosenbaum's Passing

Click the image below to read the full document (PDF)

Although the Rosenbaum family left Seattle for good many years ago, Judith Rosenthal, one of Bella and LN's granddaughters still feels a strong connection to the city from stories about Seattle that her mother shared with her. Furthermore, one of Bella and LN's great-grandsons currently lives in Seattle with his wife and two children and works for Google.

If you'd like to make a tribute or contribute message in response to this exhibit, please visit the WSJHS tribute page

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