THE SORRENTO IS one of those rare historic buildings in Seattle that still serves its original purpose.
The upscale hotel rises proudly from a steep slope at the northwest corner of Madison Street and Terry Avenue on First Hill, featuring impressive towers with emphatic eaves, gorgeous terra-cotta corbels and low-pitched roofs typical of the Italianate architectural style en vogue at the turn of the 20th century.
Visitors to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo were among the first to check in when it opened in 1909 — the unobstructed views of Elliott Bay from its western-facing side must have been something to experience.
A building this old and dramatic is too good not to inspire a Halloween-worthy tale. Legend goes that the ghost of American writer Alice B. Toklas has been seen roaming the halls near Room 408. Toklas, a member of the 1920s Parisian avant-garde who is credited with popularizing the pot brownie recipe, apparently never stayed there, but so it goes.
After looking at the seven-story landmark for hours to make this drawing, I also started to imagine the ghosts of past visitors staring back at me from every window. Considering the ongoing Sorrento hospitality, they probably don’t feel like going anywhere else.