The Old Colony Apartments at Boren and Cherry on First Hill were considered prime living space in the early 1900s.

THE OLD COLONY Apartments on First Hill at Boren Avenue and Cherry Street were touted in a Seattle Times 1910 classified ad as the “finest apartments in Seattle.” They were certainly the dearest. Of the 100-plus flats, apartments, cottages and houses then listed by agent John Davis, the $75 monthly rent for one of the Old Colony’s 25 five-room apartments was tops.

This view of the Old Colony across Boren appeared in The Seattle Times on Jan. 2, 1910. It is described there as “handsome,” and one month later in another classified as “the ideal home for those who know and appreciate the best.” A look into an elegantly appointed Old Colony apartment appears on page 122 of Diana James’ “Shared Walls,” the history of Seattle apartment houses.

James notes that the firm of Frank B. Allen, the Old Colony’s architect, was in charge of the “grouping and construction of the temporary buildings” at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition on the University of Washington campus. Perhaps there the architect first met gregarious celebrity-politician William Rupert Forrest. A former city auditor, city clerk and state senator, Forrest served as “special ambassador for the AYP to European countries.”

William and Amelia Forrest are the first tenants of the Old Colony to make it onto The Seattle Times society page, with Amelia hosting luncheons and formal dinners in their stately apartment. However, the couple’s life together at the Old Colony lasted little more than a year. William died of heart disease in their apartment March 5, 1911. His lengthy obituary in The Times makes note of his extraordinary penmanship. He could sign his name using two pens with both hands at the same time — for the show of it.

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