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Summary for 1531 7th AVE / Parcel ID 1976700010 / Inv #

Historic Name: Roosevelt Hotel Common Name:
Style: Art Deco Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1930
 
Significance
This property is directly associated with the early twentieth century developmental era (1920-1930) when a significant number of commercial buildings were constructed and the modern downtown commercial district was fully established. In 1923, Seattle adopted its first ordinance that regulated specific geographic areas for specified uses; it allowed the most densely concentrated commercial development to occur in the downtown core. The economic prosperity of the 1920s stimulated the development of numerous major highrise commercial buildings, as well as smaller-scale bank and commercial buildings, major hotels and apartment hotels, club buildings and entertainment facilities, which were typically designed by leading Seattle architects. During this era, the original residential district was entirely absorbed by commercial and other real estate development. By 1930, virtually all of the old residential properties - as well as many of the immediate post-fire era commercial buildings outside of Pioneer Square - had been demolished or removed. The concept of the modern hotel that would include private rooms, toilet and bathing facilities, public spaces and related guest services, originated in the early nineteenth century. By 1853, the settlement community of Seattle included its first hotel, the Felker House. By the later part of the nineteenth century, Seattle - like cities throughout the United States - included a significant number of hotels that served a wide variety of business travelers, tourists and both permanent and semi-permanent residents. By the late 1880s several elegant hotels as well as workingmen’s hotels were clustered along the west side of First Avenue between Cherry and Columbia – in proximity to the original railway passenger depot. Urban hotels, lodging and apartment buildings all closely resembled commercial office buildings in the 1880s and 1890s; it was not until the 1920s that hotel design became distinctly different in exterior appearance. Early hotel development was clearly stimulated by improvements in railroad service that brought immigrants and drew tourists and entrepreneurs. Prior to the fire of 1889, the Occidental – Seattle Hotel (1864, 1887 & 1889, destroyed), was the city’s premier tourist-oriented hotel, although there were numerous other hotels located within the commercial district. At least a dozen hotels were destroyed in the great fire of 1889; however, within four years some 63 hotels were in operation. After the fire, both the Rainier Hotel (1889, destroyed) between Columbia and Marion Streets above Fifth Avenue and the Rainier-Grand Hotel (c.1889, destroyed) at First Avenue and Marion Street functioned as the major tourist hotels. The Rainier had been intended initially to serve as a resort hotel, as was The Denny Hotel (1890-1892, destroyed). Both were large wood-frame buildings located above the commercial and residential districts with panoramic views out to the harbor. Other major post-fire tourist-oriented hotels included the Butler Hotel (1893, partly destroyed) and the Lincoln Hotel (1900, destroyed by fire in 1920) at Fourth Avenue and Madison Street. The Lincoln was promoted as an elegant residential hotel with family-style living quarters. By the turn of the century, tourist and residential hotels lined the west side of First Avenue to Pike Street. Based on the number of hotels that were operating in Seattle by 1900, it is certain that they mostly catered to long-term residents rather than temporary visitors. Many buildings that were identified as hotels actually functioned as lodging houses or apartment hotels. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, hotel living was particularly common especially in the developing cities of the American West. Hotels varied significantly in size and accommodations provided and served every economic level from those of wealth to recent immigrants and transient salesmen and laborers. Given the tremendous population growth in Seattle after 1902, hotels and lodging houses played an important role in absorbing a new and largely transient populous. While large resort or tourist-oriented hotels like the Rainier-Grande Hotel and the Denny Hotel are noteworthy, the great majority of hotel buildings built after 1900 and prior to the 1920s were much more modest operations. A particularly significance boom in hotel development occurred between 1906 and 1910 in conjunction with local economic opportunities and population growth as well as the opening of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (AYP) Exposition of 1909 that drew some 3.7 million visitors. By 1910, Polk’s Directory included over 475 hotel listings. Family-style hotels were designed to include suites of rooms that would be used by individuals who needed especially comfortable long-term accommodations for their relocated families or those who traveled regularly but maintained a principal residence elsewhere. Apartment hotels differed from apartment living in that regular household help and meals were provided as part of the hotel services. During the 1920s, a second boom in major hotel development occurred at which time several luxury hotels and large apartment hotels were built in the downtown commercial district. They contrasted with earlier hotels that were rarely taller than six-stories; like their neighboring office buildings, these new hotels were significantly larger and taller multi-story buildings that accommodated hundreds of guest rooms. Several were designed to include kitchen facilities and promoted for both hotel and apartment hotel purposes, including: the Spring Apartment Hotel (Kennedy, Vintage Park, 1922); Claremont Apartment Hotel (Hotel Andre, 1925); and Camlin Apartment Hotel (1926). The construction of the highly luxurious Olympic Hotel at a pivotal central location in the Metropolitan Tract in 1923 appears to have spurred other major hotel construction nearby, including: the Spring Apartment Hotel (Kennedy, Vintage Park, 1922); Continental Hotel (Hotel Seattle, 1926) and the Hungerford Hotel (Pacific Plaza, 1928). Simultaneously, numerous hotels were developed nearer the new retail core at the north end of the commercial district, including: the Vance Hotel (1926); the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (1928, destroyed) and the Bergonian Hotel (Mayflower Park Hotel, 1927). The design for most – but not all – of these hotels included large lobbies, restaurants, meeting rooms, and storefront level retail spaces. They were typically executed in a modest neoclassical mode with brick cladding and distinctive terra cotta ornament at the base and building cap. The 17-story Roosevelt Hotel, designed in the distinctive Art Deco style was completed in 1930. It was the last major downtown hotel constructed during this era and the tallest to be built until the late 1960s. In 1969, the 13-story Benjamin-Franklin Hotel was interconnected to a new 40-story tower wing and renamed the Washington Plaza Hotel. In 1980, the Benjamin Franklin Hotel was demolished in order to construct a second (44-story) tower wing, now known as the Westin Hotel. The architecturally distinctive Roosevelt Hotel was designed in the modernistic Art Deco mode by John Graham, Sr. and constructed by A.W. Quist & Company, contractors. Information regarding the developers and financiers of this hotel development venture has not been uncovered. The opening of the Paramount Theater at Ninth Avenue and Pine Street in 1928 was an important step in expanding commercial development eastward along Pine Street and certainly must have influenced the development of this hotel building. Its construction was near completion by October 1930; it being the last major commercial construction project to be completed prior to the halt in downtown real estate development due the economic depression. Economic uncertainties appear to have impacted the final design of the hotel as the original design concept was revised, reduced in height and simplified during construction process. By 1934, the property was owned by Pacific National Bank and later it was owned by Western Hotels, Inc. In 1962, the exterior and interior were both extensively altered during a remodeling effort that removed all of the original main entrances, retail storefronts and lobby design. In 1984, a renovation project was undertaken that involved the replacement of all of the windows and altered the original dark bronze spandrels in the building shaft. This hotel is unique for its modernistic Art Deco design as well as the fact that it retains its original name and historic rooftop neon signage. The architect, John Graham, Sr. (1873-1955), was one of the city's most prominent designers. Born in Liverpool, he apprenticed as an architect in England before settling in Seattle in 1901. He was responsible for many of the city’s most important landmarks. His work covered a wide range of building types, including a number of residences; the Ford Motor Company assembly plant (1913); office buildings - the Dexter-Horton Building (1921-24) and the Exchange Building (1929-31); institutions (four buildings at the University of Washington, 1927-28) and the U.S. Marine Hospital (1931-34); and department stores (Frederick & Nelson (1916-19) and the Bon Marche (1928-29), as well as churches, yacht clubs and apartments building. He also embraced a variety of styles, from the Tudor Revival used for the Victoria Apartments and the University buildings to the Art Deco masterpieces of the Exchange Building and the Marine Hospital. Extensive storefront and building base level alterations have significantly impacted the architectural character of this building. However, it is a fairly unique example of an important downtown property type, tourist-oriented hotel, executed in the Art Deco style. Furthermore, it is associated with the work of a highly notable Seattle architect, John Graham, Sr.
 
Appearance
Prominently located at the SE corner of Seventh Avenue and Pine Street, this 18-story hotel building was designed and constructed to include 237 guest rooms and several street level retail storefronts. The building continues to be used for hotel purposes. It measures 70’ x 120’ at the base with a 70’ x 72’ tower and exhibits a distinctive two-part vertical block façade composition executed in a Moderne high-rise design mode with Art-Deco inspired ornamentation. The reinforced concrete and steel structure includes a concrete foundation, basement and sub-basement and is clad with original red brick and buff color (now painted) cast stone ornament at the shaft and non-historic modern smooth stone panels at the base. The two-story base historically housed the main hotel entries, the lobby and dining rooms, eight retail shops and restaurants and a parking garage wing between the hotel and the alley at Pine Street. The base level and the interior hotel lobby and retail spaces were remodeled in 1949, 1962 and again in 1983. The current stone and marble cladding, windows and storefronts, entry canopy and barrel awnings are non-historic modern construction; all of the original base level copper, wood and plate glass display windows and storefront openings with cast stone ornament have been removed. The now painted cast stone grapevine frieze at the third floor level originally capped the base and remains in place. The shaft tower has two principal elevations that are oriented toward the adjacent cross streets. The tower extends 14 stories above the base and each elevation is dominated by four central brick clad piers with recessed window bays that are flanked by corner and end-wall bays with individually set windows. The shaft tower is stepped back one-story and capped by a one-story crown. The corner bays are squared off at the 16th floor and the central piers rise to the 15th floor where they are capped by cast stone foliated capitals. The facades are setback at this level with the piers/pilasters that are stepped back and extend an additional two floor levels to the roofline where they are capped by ornate cast stone leaf and vine flower motifs. Ornamental spandrels above the 15th floor and 17th floor windows accentuate the tower cap. There is a third setback at the uppermost penthouse floor level expressed by stepped and chamfered corner piers. Windows at this level have gabled surrounds over ornamental cast stone sunburst panels. The uppermost parapet is terminated by a three-part cast stone coping that contrasts with the red brick. A prominent, large, roof-top neon sign advertises the “Roosevelt Hotel” and is visible from various points in downtown Seattle. All of the original double-hung wooden 1/1 windows have been replaced with a modern aluminum product. The original dark bronze spandrel panels within the central recessed bays have been replaced with a shiny aluminum panels that contrast with the brick and diminish the verticality of the shaft and Moderne design intent. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1531 7th AVE / Parcel ID 1976700010 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Terra cotta, Brick - Common Bond Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Hotel Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: eighteen
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Integrity
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Storefront: Extensive
Changes to Interior: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Courtois, Shirley L. METRO Downtown Seattle Transit Project FEIS Inventory Form, 1984.
Seattle Inventory Field Form, Office of Urban Conservation, 1979.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.

Photo collection for 1531 7th AVE / Parcel ID 1976700010 / Inv #


Photo taken May 17, 2006

Photo taken May 17, 2006
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