Until it went dark in 1967, the theater at the southeast corner had many names. Since 1974, though, the Henry M. Jackson Federal Office Building has occupied that spot.
THROUGH THE late 1880s this east side of First Avenue — it was called Front Street then — was distinguished by George Frye’s Opera House (1884-85). This grand pioneer landmark filled the southern half of the block until June 6, 1889, when Seattle’s Great Fire reduced it to ashes. While these were still cooling, Frye hired John Nestor, an Irish-born architect who had designed his opera house, to prepare drawings for the Stevens Hotel, which we see here on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Marion Street.
Next door to the north, the Palace Hotel, with 125 guest rooms, opened on April 14, 1903. The owners announced that it was “artistically decorated and comfortably furnished, and equipped with every modern convenience,” including elevators, electric lights and rooms with baths. In the spring of 1905, the most northerly of the hotel’s three storefronts was taken by Burt and Packard’s “Korrect Shape” shoe store. For $3.50 one could purchase a pair of what the cobblers advertised as “the only patent leather shoe that’s warranted.” Also that year, the New German Bakery moved in next door beneath the Star Theatre, which had recently changed its name from Alcazar to Star.
On Feb. 21, 1905, The Seattle Times printed “Vaudeville at the Star,” a wonderfully revealing review of the Star’s opening and the crowd it attracted. “Vaudeville as given at the 10-cent theater may not be high art, but it is certainly popular art.”
The performance consisted of nine acts, and The Times named them all, including juggling on a slack wire, boxing dwarves, a baritone singer and a “Negro comedian.” The performance concluded with “several sets of moving pictures.”
Until it went dark in 1967, the venue at the southeast corner of First and Madison had many names. In addition to the Alcazar and the Star, it had been called the State Ritz, the Gaiety, the Oak, the State, the Olympic, the Tivoli and, in its last incarnation as a home for burlesque and sometimes experimental films, the Rivoli.