A century of greening on the Holy Names Academy campus has half-draped the full figure of this Capitol Hill landmark by architects Breitung & Buchinger.

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A CENTURY OF greening on the Holy Names Academy campus has half-draped the full figure of this Capitol Hill landmark by architects Breitung & Buchinger. However, if the landscape were stripped away we would discover a Baroque Revival plant that has changed very little since the “real photo postcard” photographer Otto Frasch recorded it almost certainly in 1908. The big exception is the tower at the north end of the school, on the left. While a 1965 earthquake did not collapse the tower, it did weaken the structure so much it had to be removed.

The Sisters of Holy Names arrived in Seattle in 1880 and opened their school for girls in a home downtown. In 1884 the school moved to its own stately structure on Seventh Avenue near Jackson Street and remained there until the Jackson Street Regrade (1907-1909) made kindling of the school.

Construction on this third campus began in 1906, the cornerstone was laid in 1907, and in the fall of 1908 the school was dedicated. Of the 282 students then attending, 127 of them boarded there. Many came from Alaska, some from “off the farm,” others from distant rural communities, and a few from nearby and yet still-hard-to-reach areas such as Mercer Island. In 1908 Holy Names served all 12 grades plus a “Normal School” for training teachers. By 1930 the Normal School was closed; the grade school shut down in 1963. By 1967, the school also quit boarding students.


Classes may already have begun when Frasch took this photo, but certainly the structure’s north wing (the one closest to the photographer) with the chapel was not finished, and wouldn’t be until 1925. The chapel was included in restoration that began in 1990.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.