Seattle’s Prince Rupert Hotel was built a few years before the city of the same name in British Columbia. The hotel was probably named after the proposed city, or Prince Rupert of the Rhine, the first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
THE PRINCE RUPERT HOTEL, built in 1906-07, might have been named for the proposed British Columbia port city about 600 miles north of Seattle that was eventually incorporated in 1910. Or it might have been in honor of that city’s namesake, Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619-1682), the German who was the first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
A contest to name the city in B.C., for a prize of $250, was conducted by the Grand Trunk Pacific, the Canadian railway that built its West Coast terminus there. It also constructed a wharf on Elliott Bay as a link to Seattle’s booming commerce. When completed in 1910 on our waterfront between Madison and Marion streets, it was the largest wooden pier on the Pacific Coast.
The Prince Rupert opened at 1515 Boren Ave. in May 1907. Listed in classifieds, the attractions of this five-story, fireproof hotel with 115 rooms included “strictly modern, outside windows in every room, short walking distance of business center, within a half-block of four car lines, first-class dining room in connection.” In an Aug. 4, 1907, short report on the hotel, The Seattle Times noted it “at once became extremely popular, and although it was opened less than three months ago, it is impossible to accommodate all who apply.”
While exploring the former location of the Prince Rupert Hotel’s front door and its four classical columns that faced Boren Street, one will be careful not to fall into the I-5 ditch that took with its cutting this hotel and many others along the western slope of the First Hill/Capitol Hill ridge in the early 1960s.
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The ever-alert Jean Sherrard has widened the frame for this week’s “Now” photo to include a corner of Plymouth Pillars Park. There, although still off-frame to the left, the rescued columns of Plymouth Congregational Church are nicely blended within a copse of deciduous trees in their own triangular park at the corner of Pike Street and Boren Avenue.
It is a satisfying coincidence that both the four surviving Plymouth pillars and those that supported the top-floor portico of the Prince Rupert were of the Ionic order, although in their 1966 removal from the demolished church, the Plymouth pillars lost their scrolled capitals. Still, we permit ourselves to fashion an Ionic irony that the church’s pillars were saved and moved to Boren Street to replace those of the razed hotel.