Seattle Construction- 1890s

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Seattle Construction- 1890

There is an insufficient amount of articles or sources available to the public which chronicle what construction job sites in Seattle for four-story buildings looked like in 1890. Some articles have been presented below, which describe four-story buildings that were built between 1890 to 1899 and their sites.


  • The article which describes Washington Park Building and its current picture can be accessed via this link.
  • The building is a four-story, 36,000-square-foot building containing offices. Its location is south of the central business district of Washington.
  • Washington Park Building was constructed in 1890 during the period of "great rebuilding" after the 1889 fire disaster which devoured a large portion of Seattle.
  • Construction sites of four-story buildings in 1890 had Carnegie steel beams around them. Several original Carnegie steel beams utilized in the original construction of four-story buildings are intact to this day.
  • The site is connected to pedestrian access and numerous public transit options in a commercial district.


  • The construction site plan of several buildings designed and built in the 1890s by architects based in Seattle, including those "platted in 1890," and a four-story condo is available via this link.
  • The plan is relevant to several "multi story apartment buildings" with details such as window and brick type, entry locations (often at the middle of the buildings), etc. Architects based in Seattle, planned and built all buildings in the report. One building was platted in 1890 by a Seattle-based developer James A. Moore. We have assumed they all represent construction sites obtainable in Seattle as of 1890.


  • The building located at 4739 Rainier Avenue South and other buildings in Seattle built in the 1890s is described in a register accessible via this link.
  • The article describes the site of a site of "four-story brick" and double-framed Italianate building that was erected in 1897.
  • Multi-story buildings constructed between 1880 and 1890 by "Architects Josenhans and Allan" are in the article.
  • The article also describes the "former site of two 4-story" high Victorian-era Italianate brick masonry buildings that were erected in 1895.


  • Documentation of landmark resources, including properties constructed in Seattle as in the 1890s is available via this link.
  • Two assembled, four-story buildings that originally date back to the 20th century are described in this article. One of them, which is the Grand Pacific Hotel, was built in 1898. The buildings were made mostly of fire-resistant materials and conform to Richardsonian Romanesque's style of brick masonry structures.
  • These buildings were erected after the great Seattle fire that occurred in 1889. The Grand Pacific Hotel site has rusticated stones, voussoirs, as well as pier blocks at all ends of its east facade.
  • Some materials and features used on the building are brick piers, cut stone, arches, and capitals. Other materials/features include spandrels made of square rustication, fourth-floor dentils that were topped by corbels, a cornice, as well as a raised parapet. The listed materials suggest that typical four-story building sites from the 1890s had stones, bricks, facades, etc.


  • Some four-story buildings which were documented in Polk's Seattle building directories in 1890 are accessible via this link.
  • The building at 233 14th Ave, is said to be built in 1930. However, the site is documented in Polk's Seattle building directories of 1890 (about 40 years earlier than the recorded building date)
  • The building site has a T-shaped plan and a poured concrete foundation. The cladding is brick and stones (cast), the roof is made flat with parapet.


  • The four-story PCAD Epler Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA was constructed between 1889-1890 and demolished in 1923.
  • The architects who were on the construction site are John Parkinson (1861-1935) and Cecil Evers (1866-1936).
  • An exterior picture of the building and its surrounding is available at the PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.
  • The building was designed with an eclectic style of Romanesque and Italianate details on the exterior.


  • The structure at 619 2nd Ave, Seattle was built in 1892. An article describing the building and site is accessible via this link.
  • The building was first designed as a four-story building and later modified to be taller.
  • The site has a facade and is "fully clad in stone." The building has a rectangular plan.
  • The interior of the structure consisted of cast-iron columns and steel girders which supported wood beams and floors. The street elevations faced north on Cherry Street as well as "east on Second Avenue."
  • Additional description of the building and site are accessible via this link.


The research reviewed the Pacific Coast Architecture Database for articles or sources which chronicle what construction job sites for four-story buildings in Seattle were like in the 1890s. Uncovered insights described a four-story Epler Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA. No uncovered insights were generalizing what was obtainable on four-story construction sites in the 1890s. We investigated the features specific to the location of Epler Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA, during construction. The strategy uncovered two architects who were on the construction site as John Parkinson (1861-1935) and Cecil Evers (1866-1936). An exterior picture of the building and its surrounding site is available at the PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle.

The study also studied publications of the government of Seattle for building site plans, reports, and documentation specific to four-story buildings. This strategy revealed the site plans for several buildings documented by architects in Seattle, including those "platted in 1890" and a four-story condo. We reviewed the peculiarities of the various sites. We assumed all sites planned, built, and documented in Seattle in the 1890s by Seattle-based architects illustrate and chronicle what construction was like in Seattle in the 1890s.

The study investigated real estate industry publications by Unico Properties, etc., for an illustration and chronicle of what construction sites of four-story buildings were like in Seattle in 1890s. We studied to uncover pictures of the construction sites. Unfortunately, photos at the time of construction were not available to the public. We also researched post-construction imagery to investigate the landscape and vital features that remained after the construction. The study reviewed documented structures that exist on the sites of construction. This strategy revealed that the site is connected to pedestrian access and numerous public transit options in a commercial district. A review for the time of construction/creation of the pedestrian and public transit paths connected to the site failed to reveal helpful insights.

The research reviewed academic and scholarly publications such as publications of the Pennsylvania State University, etc., for the nature of construction sites of four-story buildings in Seattle in the 1890s. There were no reports related to the nature of construction sites. A review for the quality/nature of building types and description of their environment revealed that structures built around the period were mostly fire-resistant according to the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Multi-story buildings constructed in Seattle in the 1890s were brick masonry structures.

  • "Washington Park Building is a historic building in Seattle’s Pioneer Square submarket, and consists of a 4-story, 36,000-square-foot office building. It is situated directly south of the central business district (CBD) and provides immediate pedestrian access to numerous public transit options and urban amenities including restaurants, cafés, bars, and entertainment venues. "
  • "Originally constructed in 1890 in the great rebuilding after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, Washington Park Building was built for the Lowman and Hanford Stationery and Printing Company for their printing and bindery operations. The building features 16-to-18 foot high ceilings and the original Carnegie steel beams used in the original construction are in place to this day."
  • "C. D. Boren's Addition, Block 37, Lot 4. 094200-1115. Current owner: King County Assessor's Account Number: Professional Commons, Inc. c/o Pall is Realty . 4739 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, Washington 98118 Significance: Black-topped parking area. Formerly site of four-story brick and double-frame Italianate apartment building or rooming house erected in 1897."
  • "Hotel Drexel, 519-525 3rd Avenue. Boren and Denny's Addition, Block 2, Lot 2. King County Assessor's Account Number: 093900 - 0035 Current owner A Samis Land Company c/o Sam Israel 408 Occidental Avenue South Seattle, Washington 98104 Significance: Tertiary structure. The building has unique status within the old downtown core in that it is believed to pre-date the Great Fire which destroyed Seattle's business section in 1889. The construction date assigned by the County Assessor, however, is 1890. In any event, when the site was regraded after the fire, the two-story frame building was raised upon a basement and ground story of solid brick masonry. The latter project was carried out under the supervision of Timotheus Josenhans and Morris B. Allan, well-known local architects of the day. The old hotel was remodeled during the Post War period, and as a consequence its most historic upper stories are now disguised by false stone facing. Josenhans had been trained in civil engineering at the University of Michigan and had studied architecture with William Le Baron Jenney, the pioneer of metal-frame building in Chicago. He worke"
  • "his way to the West Coast via a series of railroad construction projects and ended in Portland, Oregon, where he worked in the offices of architects Joseph Sherwin and Warren H. Williams. He came to Seattle in 1888 and pursued the practice of architecture first as a draftsman and an independent, and later in successive partnerships with James Stephen and Morris B. Allan. Josenhans was active in the organization of the Washington State Chapter of the AIA in 1894 and 1895. He was appointed Superintendent of Buildings in 1914 and headed the City Building Department for a number of years thereafter. Construction date: c. 1880, or c. 1890. Architects: Josenhans and Allan (ground story and basement). Description: Originally, simplified High Victorian Italianate Style. Rectangular plan. 60-foot frontage on 3rd Avenue; 110 feet on James Street. 3 stories and basement. Ground story and basement of solid brick masonry construction; upper 2 stories of double frame construction. Original siding of upper stories; clapboards (?). Original trim: Italianate cornice and central pedimental crests, either elevation. Loggias, or recessed porches, either elevation. Trabeated fenestration (double-hung window sash). Three shop fronts on 3rd Avenue; one on James Street. Remodeled during Post War period. Shops fronts altered; cornice removed; upper stories covered with false stone facing."
  • "Former Fulton Hotel, 320-322 2nd Avenue South; 208 South Jackson Street. D. S. Maynard's Plat, Block 14, Lot 4. King County Assessor's Account Number: 524780-0860. Current owner: Lydia G. Stratton 6300 Stratford Road Chevy Chase, Maryland 20015 Significance: tertiary structure. Building dates from the district 1 primary historic period: 1889-1899, the decade of dramatic growth following the Great Fire. However, as a result of earthquake damage, its 2nd and 3rd stories were removed in 1949. 4 cast-iron shop fronts with slender classical columns framing central entrances are intact. Construction date: 1890. Architect: unknown."
  • "Description: Italianate Style. Rectangular plan. 60-foot frontage on 2nd Avenue South; 108 feet on South Jackson Street. Originally, 3 stories with basement. Brick masonry construction. Trabeated fenestration. Corbeled cornice. Brick facing, stone or cast stone trim. Upper 2 stories removed 1949. Cast iron fronts of four shop bays on the two facades are intact, including slender classical columns which frame the central entries. A fifth shop front on South Jackson Street appears to be a replica (wood?). Ground story piers are rusticated with stone courses, 2nd Avenue South facade, Facing severely sand-blasted."
  • "D. S. Maynard's Plat, Block 14, Lots 1 and 2. 524780-0845, 524780-0850. King County Assessor's Account Numbers: Current owner: Clayton T., or Sherleen D. Noonan 13545 8th Avenue N.W. Seattle, Washington 98177 Significance: Site cleared of historic sturctures 1965. Black-topped for parking purposes 1967. Former site of two 4-story brick masonry High Victorian I tali anate buildings erected in 1895."
  • "This area surrounding 1015 Second Avenue is associated also with the great Seattle Fire of 1889, which began nearby at the northwest corner of Front and Marion Street. The fire destroyed an estimated 32 blocks of the city’s emerging commercial center. Subsequent reconstruction, which characterizes the Pioneer Square Historic District, was made up largely of fire-resistant Richardsonian Romanseque style, brick masonry structures. This type of construction was used on nearby buildings such as the 1889-1891 Burke Building, which was on the site of the Jackson Federal Building, at 911 Second Avenue, until the early 1970s."
  • "An example of the dry goods store is Stone-Fisher, which was located at 1221 Second Avenue in the 1906 Caroline Kline Galland Building. The Rialto Building, constructed in 1894 on the site of 1015 Second Avenue, housed the original Frederick and Nelson Department Store. (The Seattle Branch building of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco [FRBSF] replaced the Rialto Building with the Federal Reserve Bank in 1950. Original areaways within the basement of the present building, below the Second Avenue sidewalk, date from the Rialto Building)."
  • "North of 1015 Second Avenue, across Spring Street, is the Washington Mutual Savings Bank. The former structure on the site, the Walker Building, was built in 1899, purchased by Washington Mutual in 1921, and renovated for the bank’s use."
  • "Address: 1018-1022 First Avenue, 107 Spring Street Tax Parcel ID: 093900025 Construction Date: 1890 Architect: Thomas Bird and George Dornbach The historic Holyoke Building is located west across the alley from the 1015 Second Avenue building, on the northwest corner of the block. The building carries two addresses -- 107 Spring Street and 1018-22 First Avenue. The 31,477-square-foot Holyoke Building was constructed in 1890 by lumberman, real estate developer, and banker Richard Holyoke. , . This five-story, bearing brick masonry and stone commercial structure is characterized by its Richardsonian Romanesque style. This style was popular in Seattle buildings after the Great Fire of 1889, based on the architectural design precedents of post-fire construction from Chicago. The primary exterior facades feature a rusticated sandstone base along the exposed first floor level on First Avenue and stone cornices at each floor level. The sheet metal roof cornice, which has been simplified from its original form, is supported by brackets extending from the projecting pilasters. Large, double-hung windows are placed in tall rectangular openings, typically in pairs. An arched head opening with tripartite windows distinguishes the westernmost portion of the north facade."
  • "The Colonial Hotel / Grand Pacific Hotel Building Address: 1115-1123 First Avenue Tax Parcel ID: 1697500000 and 9197200000 Construction Date: ca. 1898 and 1901-1902 Architects: Max Umbrecht (Colonial Hotel) The two historic buildings that make up the Colonial/Grand Pacific Building were rehabilitated in 1981, but they retain much of their original character-defining exterior features and are listed in the NRHP and designated as City of Seattle landmarks. Located at the southwest corner of First Avenue and Seneca Street, the two assembled, four-story buildings originally date from the turn of the 20th century. The former Grand Pacific Hotel was built ca. 1898. It is a Richardsonian Romanesque style brick building characterized by its brick and stone detailing. The first floor, which contains retail shops, features a center entry surrounded by rusticated stones and voussioirs, and pier blocks at each end of its primary east facade. Upper floors are composed with a two story arcade of brick piers with cut stone arches and capitals, spandrels with square rustication, and fourth floor dentils topped by corbels, a cornice, and raised parapet. "