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Summary for 223 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 5247801000 / Inv #

Historic Name: Frye Hotel Common Name: Frye Hotel
Style: Beaux Arts - American Renaissance Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1908
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Designed by architects Bebb and Mendel, the Frye Hotel was commissioned by Charles Frye, who made a large fortune, thanks to his meat packing company and is associated with the Frye art collection, now housed in Seattle’s Frye Museum. The Frye Hotel was completed in 1908. At that time, it was one of the tallest steel frame buildings in Seattle and one of its most elegant hotels. It is particularly interesting, because its style is clearly Beaux Arts inspired, something of a rarity for both Pioneer Square and Seattle, as a whole. The Frye Hotel may well have drawn inspiration from McKim Mead and White’s New York Life Insurance Building of 1890 in Kansas City. Bebb and Mendel, as a firm, displayed diversity in their work and were also responsible for the Sullivanesque Corona Building at 606 2nd Avenue, the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building, many other Pioneer Square warehouse buildings that reflect the influence of the Chicago School, as well as the more Beaux Arts Hoge Building in downtown Seattle, and close to the Pioneer Square Historic District. The Frye Hotel is also significant, because it reflects the growth of Seattle’s original commercial district and a new tendency to move the center of downtown north of the former “burnt district.” At the same time, the Frye Hotel and these other works, reflect a new sophistication in the backgrounds of architects, who came to Seattle, as it experienced explosive growth, particularly in the period from 1900 to 1910. These were practitioners who were educated as architects and had important professional experience, before coming to Seattle. In this they differed from the architects who appeared in Seattle right after the Fire of 1889 and who often started out as carpenters and might have been self-educated. The following gives more background on Bebb and Mendel and explains the sophistication of both the Frye Hotel and of buildings that clearly differ from it, such as the Corona Building or the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building. Charles Bebb was born in England in 1856 and educated in London and at a preparatory school in Switzerland before attending the University of Lausanne. He also studied engineering at the School of Mines in London and worked as a railroad engineer in South Africa before moving to the United States. By 1888, he had been hired by Adler and Sullivan in Chicago as the chief superintendent architect on the building of the Auditorium Building. In 1890, he was sent by Adler and Sullivan to superintend the building of the Seattle Opera House. The project was never built and later in 1890, Bebb, still in the employ of Adler and Sullivan, returned to Chicago. He returned to Seattle in September 1893 and became a designer for the local Denny Clay Company. His work there is credited with making the Denny Clay Company a leading producer of architectural terra cotta on the West Coast. By 1898, he had an independent architectural practice and by 1901, a partnership with Louis Leonard Mendel, originally a native of Mayen, Germany. Mendel had begun his architectural career in the offices of Lehman and Schmidt and of the Schweinfurth Brothers in Cleveland. Mendel may also have worked for Adler and Sullivan. The firm of Bebb and Mendel produced several Seattle architectural gems, including the Hoge Building in downtown Seattle and the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building, in the district and at the southwest corner of First Avenue South and Jackson Street. It also produced the Washington State Pavilion at the Seattle Alaska Yukon Exposition in 1908 (no longer standing). After the Bebb and Mendel Partnership dissolved in 1914, Bebb formed a successful partnership with Carl Gould. Bebb and Gould produced more Seattle architectural gems, such as the Times Square Building in downtown Seattle and Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington until Gould’s death in 1939. Bebb died in 1942.} The building’s use was changed from hotel to senior housing in 1972. A more recent rehabilitation of the Frye Hotel Apartments by Tonkin Hoyne Lokan Architects for the Low Income Housing Institute was begun in 1998 and completed around 2001.
The building has an H shaped plan, with a primary façade on Yesler Way and another one on 3rd Avenue South. A narrow interior court faces 3rd Avenue. The eleven story building has a steel frame, with reinforced concrete walls. Above the second level, the Yesler and 3rd Avenue facades are covered in pale brown brick veneer with terra cotta ornamentation in white or off-white. The building covers a footprint of approximately 120 feet by 120 feet and basement as well as sub-basement levels. The building’s Yesler Way façade, at the bottom two levels, consists of a strong rusticated base in concrete. Elaborate ornamentation, particularly around the doorway, includes decorative shields with fruit and various types of elaborate brackets, which are almost Baroque or Roccoco in nature. To each side of the elaborate doorway are storefronts. The upper floors consist of a wide central bay, flanked by two narrow ones, creating strong edges at each corner. Here the walls primarily have pale brown brick veneer, with quoining and other decoration in light terra cotta. The end bays, emphasized by staggered quoins, have one pair of separate trabeated window openings per floor. The central bay has eight trabeated window openings per floor. There is a slightly projecting belt-course in terra cotta above the ninth level. Emphasizing the belt-course and the narrow end bays, are ornamental shields placed just below the belt course and over the quoins. Above the belt course, is one level of trabeated openings surmounted by a level of small windows, with circular ones at the end bays. At this level, the ornamentation really takes over, with frames around the small windows and all manner of ornamental brackets and other decoration underneath a strong terminal cornice with antefixae. The 3rd Avenue façade has two side bays, which reflect continuity in design with the Yesler Way façade. There is the same rustication on the two lower floors, which also fills in the lower level of the courtyard, creating a central portal with a slightly projecting balustrade overhead. The underside of the balustrade has a series of ornamented brackets. To each side of the balustrade and portal, are trabeated window openings. Because of the change of grade, part of the basement level is visible above ground, as one moves south from the portal. Above the second level, each end bay has two paired but separate window openings at the center with a single opening to each side (per floor). Detailing and ornamentation are consistent with the Yesler Way façade on the outer corners of the interior courtyard elevations. In general, as on Yesler Way, corners are emphasized by staggered terra cotta quoins. The strong ornamental cornice also surmounts the end bays of the 3rd Avenue façade and crowns the interior courtyard elevations

Detail for 223 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 5247801000 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Domestic - Hotel Plan: Other
Structural System: Steel No. of Stories: eleven
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Science & Engineering
Changes to Windows: Intact
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Ochsner, Jeffrey and Dennis Andersen. Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and The Legacy of H. H. Richardson. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004.
Link, Karin, “The Rise of the Urban Center,” in Andrews et al. Pioneer Square: Seattle’s Oldest Neighborhood. Manuscript. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, forthcoming 2005.
Potter, Elizabeth Walton. “Pioneer Square Historic District Expansion Amendment.” December 1976.

Photo collection for 223 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 5247801000 / Inv #

Photo taken Jun 09, 2004

Photo taken Jun 09, 2004
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