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Summary for 501 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000040 / Inv #

Historic Name: Arctic Club & Hotel Seward Common Name: Morrison Hotel
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1909
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
Designed by Schack and Huntington and completed in 1908, the Morrison Hotel was built as the home of the Arctic Club and the Seward Hotel. The contractor was Cawsey and Lohse, which later became the Sound Construction and Engineering Company. The building dates from the 1900 to 1910 period, when the commercial district and heart of Seattle experienced explosive economic and physical growth. It is also somewhat eclectic and atypical, but striking. The slight inconsistencies in the composition, the frequent use of large segmental openings, the variety in the sizes of fenestration and the reliance on brick trim make this a unique building, which stands out in the context of the district and of the time period. The Arctic Club occupied the second story of the building. Created by the merger of the Arctic Brotherhood and of the Alaska Club in 1908, it was founded both as a social club for the veterans of the Klondike Gold Rush and to promote business ventures between Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Its promotional literature, however, stressed its prime function as a social club, in contrast to the earlier Alaska Club, which was seen as more business oriented. The Arctic Club headquarters were famous for sumptuous rooms, including the main dining room, the assembly room, the Chinese tea room or Ladies’ Reception Room, the library and the billiard room. In general, oriental rugs covered the hardwood floors. The main assembly room had mahogany paneling, with painted murals of northwest scenes. Several rooms, such as the billiard room and the card room, were oak paneled. The building also contained a number of commercial enterprises at its ground level, including a barber shop, a waffle shop and a tavern. In 1909, Alaska Yukon Magazine reported that the new Arctic Club was “one of the most important business structures in the city [Seattle].” Pacific Builder and Engineer further added in its September 14, 1912 issue, that the building was “the richest and most commodious home of any social organization west of Chicago.” The Arctic Club vacated the building in 1932 and the building was remodeled on the interior. It was then rehabilitated in a series of phases by Tonkin Greissinger and then by Tonkin Koch Architects from 1976 into the 1980s. In 2004, as of this writing, it is undergoing another rehabilitation. The building’s original architects, Schack and Huntington, were a short lived partnership of Daniel R. Huntington and James Schack, which lasted from 1907 to about 1910. The firm was responsible for several well-known Seattle buildings including: Seattle’s First Methodist Episcopal Church (1907-10), which, as of this writing, is in danger of being demolished and the Delamar Apartments (on the National Register of Historic Places). Both Schack and Huntington went on to distinguished careers. Daniel Riggs Huntington was born in 1871 in Newark, New Jersey and was educated at Columbia Grammar School and Columbia University. He began his architectural career in Denver, Colorado in 1889 and worked in New York for about six years beginning in 1894, only to return again to Denver. He arrived in Seattle in 1904 or 1905 and by 1907, had formed the Schack and Huntington Partnership. He was also a member of the Arctic Club. Later highlights of Huntington’s career include the design of Seattle’s 1912 Colman Dock, a two year partnership with architect Arthur Loveless and his role as Seattle City Architect from 1912 until late 1921. One of the early products of his work as City Architect was the Lake Union Steam Plant. Later, he was also responsible for the Washington Street Boat Landing Harbor Pergola of 1920, also listed as part of the City’s Pioneer Square Preservation District. He taught briefly at the University of Washington (1923-24) and continued an independent architectural practice at least until the Depression. From 1944 to 1946, he was also employed as an architect for Washington State University. He died in 1962. James Hansen Schack was born in 1881 in Schleswig-Holstein (now part of Germany; historically, a region that has been fought over and at times has been part of Denmark). He received architectural training in Chicago through evening classes and office apprenticeship. In 1920, he was a founding member of Schack, Young and Myers, responsible for the original Seattle Opera House (then called the Civic Auditorium). The firm was also associated with the initial planning of the model city of Longview and later evolved into the well-known Seattle architecture firm, TRA, which only closed a few years ago.
This is a seven story building with a basement, as well as a penthouse. It is located just east of the Smith Tower and south of the Drexel Hotel building, west of and across the street from the King County Courthouse and City Hall Park and north of Prefontaine Place. Its structure consists of exterior brick walls with an interior structure of steel beams and columns encased in concrete, as well as a wooden roof and frame flooring. The building is rectangular in plan and has a large footprint - 180 feet on Third Avenue and about 112 on Jefferson Street. In general, except for a sheet metal belt-course, all exterior trim is in brick. The building’s major Third Avenue facade is distinguished by large ground floor storefront openings with segmental arches and transom lights. In the wider central portion of the façade, two of these openings are symmetrically organized to each side of the main entry, which is a slightly narrower opening, also topped by a segmental arch. To each side of the central portion of the Third Avenue façade are slightly projecting wings. Each wing consists of two wide storefront openings at the ground level, with a low pedimented crest at the parapet level. The second story is faced in rusticated brick and has a series of smaller paired segmental openings that correspond to the larger openings at the ground level. Above this, is a sheet metal classical belt-course. The upper floors each consist of a symmetrical, but somewhat intricate composition, involving full size window openings, often paired, which alternate with much smaller, shallow segmental openings. The full size openings typically hold double-hung windows with transom lights. The center lines of these upper story elements do not consistently line up with the elements of the first two stories. The shorter Jefferson Street elevation has similar elements, although here single full size window openings are introduced into the mix of compositional elements. Other notable exterior features include the stained glass window in the transom of the southern storefront on Third Avenue, featuring a mountain range above forest and the word “Alaskan,” as well as the original three foot iron cat-walk at the seventh story.

Detail for 501 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000040 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Metal Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Social - Clubhouse Plan: E-Shaped
Structural System: Steel No. of Stories: seven
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Social Movements & Organizations
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
Potter, Elizabeth Walton. “Pioneer Square Historic District Expansion Amendment.” December 1976.
“Morrison Hotel, Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 1.” 1 January 1983.
Pacific Builder and Engineer, Seattle: Fuller Publishing Company, 14 September 1912.

Photo collection for 501 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000040 / Inv #

Photo taken Aug 09, 2004

Photo taken Aug 16, 2004
App v2.0.1.0