Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 212 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 5247800090 / Inv #

Historic Name: O. K. Hotel Common Name: O. K. Hotel
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1917
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Drawings for 212 Alaskan Way, known as the O. K. Hotel, were completed by Ishram B. Johnson in March 1914, with construction apparently occurring between 1915 and 1917. The building was commissioned by Harry Buttnick, who bought the site in 1909. He had started his project as a warehouse building, but then built a hotel with retail at the ground floor and warehouse facilities in the basement. While the building has a late date, its structure and façade follow many of the conventions used on earlier Pioneer Square buildings: the separation of bays by tall multi-story piers, the use of corbelling to create both the idea of pier “capitals” and general decoration at the top of the façade. This building was part of the development of the area, first after the economic and industrial upturn, caused first by the Klondike Gold Rush and the building of the railroads, and then with the increased industrialization of the area, associated with World War I. It is not far from a number of warehouse and industrial buildings, as well as simpler hotels, erected during the same period along the former Railroad Avenue, which became Alaskan Way. The hotel opened in 1917 and offered lodgings to World War I industrial workers and then to loggers, and was known as a workingmen’s hotel. When the building opened, guests had an unobstructed view of Elliott Bay, which was soon lost, when the City of Seattle constructed an elevated railway trestle in 1919. The hotel later housed the poorest, unemployed denizens of the area. The hotel was closed in 1971, because of new building code regulations (which closed many Pioneer Square hotels). Over the years, the retail businesses at the ground level have included the Buttnicks’ O. K. Loan, luggage and clothing stores and Charles Aronson’s hardware and second hand store. The building was brought up to code in 1988 by “sweat equity.” The 2001 Nisqually Earthquake damaged the building badly. The renovation of the building was recently completed in 2004.
This is a five story building, with exterior brick walls and with original wood frame interior structure. It has one primary façade along Alaskan Way, divided into three bays. It has a 61 feet by 136 feet footprint with a concrete foundation and basement. The ground level of the façade consists of wood sash storefronts with plate glass windows and distinctive, high transoms, divided by tall vertical muntins. The three storefronts are trimmed with turquoise-colored brick lintels. Above the storefront level, the bays are separated by four story brick piers with corbels for capitals and continuous corbelling between the “capitals” at the parapet level. At each upper level, each bay has two trabeated window openings, with a pair of double-hung windows in a wood frame. The top light of each of the double-hung windows is multi-pane, and has been so historically. Edges of window openings, areas under sills and above lintels, as well as the corners of piers, are emphasized by darker brickwork. This establishes a decorative grid pattern, which contrasts with the regular and predominant red facing brick of the façade.

Detail for 212 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 5247800090 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition, Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Hotel Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: five
Unit Theme(s): Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry, Social Movements & Organizations
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
Brians, Ann Elizabeth. Indomitable Pioneer Square. Master of Urban Planning Thesis, University of Washington, Seattle, 1973.
Andrews, Mildred,"O. K. Hotel - 212 Alaskan Way South, Seattle, Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 1," n.d. (ca. 2002).

Photo collection for 212 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 5247800090 / Inv #

Photo taken Jun 09, 2004
App v2.0.1.0