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Summary for 619 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000085 / Inv #

Historic Name: Rector Hotel / Governor Hotel Common Name: St. Charles Hotel
Style: Beaux Arts - American Renaissance Neighborhood: Commercial Core
Built By: Year Built: 1911
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This property is directly associated with the initial period (1902-1920) of downtown commercial expansion that occurred due to local economic prosperity after the Klondike Gold Rush and in tandem with explosive population growth and suburban residential development. During this era, modern urban architectural scale began with the construction of the earliest steel-frame highrise buildings and the establishment of a concentration of banking enterprises and department stores along Second Avenue from Cherry Street to Pike Street. The initial regrading of Denny Hill and the commercial redevelopment of the former University Grounds (University/Metropolitan Tract) were major factors that facilitated northward and eastward commercial expansion. In 1914, the owners of the Frederick and Nelson Department Store purchased property with the intention of building a large, five-story store at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, thus solidifying the location of the future downtown retail core. A significant number of extant commercial properties dating from this era remain within the downtown commercial core, including: numerous hotels, several business blocks and early highrise commercial buildings, as well as specialty and department stores, apartment houses and theaters. 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. 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. 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. While large resort or tourist-oriented hotels 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. Particularly noteworthy family-style and luxury hotels constructed during this era include: the 12-story Savoy Hotel (1906, destroyed) on Second Avenue near University Street; the New Washington Hotel (Josephinum, 1908) and the Moore Hotel and Theater (1907), both built after the initial regrade of Denny Hill; and the Frye Hotel (1910) at Yesler Way and Third Avenue located near the new passenger railway facilities at Jackson Street. Such well-appointed hotels would typically include comfortable lobby areas, restaurants, event and meeting rooms, and provide special housekeeping, laundry and meal services for their guests. Other extant tourist-oriented and residential hotels constructed in the expanding commercial district during this era include: the Millburn Hotel (1902, altered); Sterling Hotel (1903, altered); Irwin Hotel (Green Tortoise Hostel, 1905, destroyed); Kingsbury Hotel (Glen Hotel, 1907); Raleigh/Imperial Hotel (1907, altered); Riopath Hotel (1908, altered); Shirley Hotel (1908, altered); Elliott Hotel (Hahn Building, 1908); Oxford Hotel (1909); Madrona Hotel (1909); Hotel Larned (1909); Nelson Hotel(Commodore,1909); Archibald Hotel (St. Regis, 1909); Hotel Afton (Atwood Hotel, 1910); Calhoun Hotel (Palladian, 1910); Crouley Building/Reynolds Hotel (1910); and the Governor/Rector Hotel (St. Charles, 1911). 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. The national economic collapse brought on by the Great Depression during the 1930s brought downtown real estate development to a virtual halt. Old hotel buildings in Pioneer Square as well as those lining First Avenue and near the Pike Place Market provided cheap housing and services for an increasingly transient and displaced low-income population, a pattern that continued into the late 1960s. A tragic fire in 1970 prompted revisions to the city’s fire code and new fire safety measures forced the closure of many residential hotels and displaced thousands of low-income residents and service providers. As a result many of the older residential hotels were either demolished or remained vacant and unused for many years. The Rector Hotel was built for Alson Lennon Brown, son of real estate and timber pioneer Amos Brown, in 1911. The building was designed by notable Seattle architect John Graham. Originally, the building plans called for an elaborate, period, high-style Beaux-Arts nine-story building, but in the end, a simpler six-story design was constructed. The building was built by contractor Harry Brandt, while the building storefronts were designed by architect Herbert B. Pearce and built by J. Levinson, who would become the owner and general manager of the hotel upon completion. The Rector Hotel opened in May of 1913 and remained in operation as such until 1918 when Seattle directories list the building as the Hotel St. Charles, which it remains to the present day. Since its construction, the building has always been used as a hotel, but over the decades of the last century it has evolved from serving a tourist clientele to a single-room -occupancy (SRO) building catering to lower-income and transitional housing needs. In 1999, a substantial rehabilitation of the entire building was undertaken by the Plymouth Housing Group in order to formally convert the hotel into low-income housing units, while at the same time preserving the character-defining and historic features of the hotel. Significant in the development of the Rector Hotel were the functional components incorporated into the design of the building that served the abutting Grand Opera House. The most obvious feature is the prominent entrance from the stair landing in the Rector Hotel’s lobby that opened directly to the balcony of the theater. [Refer to National Register Nomination form for additional information regarding the history and significance of the Rector Hotel and its relationship to the Grand Opera House.]
Located at the sloping SE corner of Third Avenue and Cherry Street, this six-story building was designed and constructed to serve as a 105 room hotel. It now functions as a transitional housing complex with retail businesses at the storefront level. It measures 35’ x 120’ with the hotel/apartment entry at Third Avenue. It exhibits a three-part vertical block façade composition and architectural details and decoration in the Beaux-Arts style incorporating Beaux Arts - American Renaissance stylist motifs. The steel reinforced concrete structure includes a foundation and basement. The façade is divided into three distinct zones; it is clad at the storefront level/base with terra cotta, at the second floor level with brick laid in a geometric pattern and at the shaft with brick in a common bond. The storefront level is distinguished by a central three-bay arched design feature that accentuates the hotel entrance and lobby. The building base exhibits elaborate glazed terra cotta cladding, trim and ornament including classically inspired pilasters, piers and intermediate cornice. The terra cotta-clad arcade with central entry portal is flanked by arched window bays (all include fanlight windows) and the entire element rises from a granite base and entry steps. The base design incorporates piers capped with cartouches and interlaced with ribbon swags and garlands. An intermediate cornice with denticulated moulding surmounts the base at the sill of the second floor level windows. The storefront openings include original mezzanine level windows although the display windows and door panels have been reconstructed with modern infill including marble bulkheads. The narrow second floor level band is dominated by individually set window openings with plain terra cotta surrounds and ornate terra cotta lintels. The windows are newly restored sets of six-light casement type windows. The building shaft is undecorated and dominated by unframed individually set window openings with 8/1 double-hung sash that appears to be original historic building fabric. The shaft is abruptly terminated at the roof parapet that is trimmed with wide metal coping. Original architectural plans called for an additional three floor levels, thus the intended formal cap and terminal cornice were never constructed. The north elevation includes an elaborate wrought iron fire escape and a single bay entry vestibule at the west end. This entryway incorporates ornate terra cotta surrounds and an entablature head surmounted by an oculus window. The building exhibits a particularly distinctive hotel lobby embellished with Greco-Roman-inspired decorative motifs including coffered ceilings, marble tile and terrazzo floors, elaborate arcaded wall treatments and wrought iron ornament. An elegant open marble stairwell (which interconnected this building to the adjacent opera house) includes ornate cast iron balustrades, mahogany handrails with acorn-motif finials at the newel posts. The Alaskan marble flooring and ornate plaster walls and ceiling elements were recently rehabilitated and restored. With the exception of the hotel lobby there do not appear to be any other intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces. The exterior is in very good condition and has been very sensitively restored and rehabilitated. Retail storefronts and interior spaces have undergone repeated changes and were recently reconstructed.

Detail for 619 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000085 / 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: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Commerce
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Interior: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Esser, Phillip Seven. "Rector Hotel" National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, March 15, 2002.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.

Photo collection for 619 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000085 / Inv #

Photo taken May 17, 2006

Photo taken May 17, 2006

Photo taken May 17, 2006
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