Built after the Great Fire of 1889, the 1891 Terry-Denny Building in Seattle's Pioneer Square district is reminiscent of the ornamental brick architecture of Victorian-era London.
Named for two of Seattle’s early Euro-American settlers, Charles Terry and Arthur Denny, the Terry-Denny Building was constructed following the Great Fire of 1889 and completed in 1891. Probably because it was built mid-block on First Avenue South, between Yesler Way and Washington Street, it is not so noted as the grand structures at the corners. But it is a Victorian delight and reminds me of the ornamented brick architecture I have enjoyed from the top deck of a red bus while bumping along the Strand in London.
This London association may come by way of the imagination of the English architect Edwin W. Houghton, who joined Boston-raised architect Charles W. Saunders only three months after the ’89 fire to exploit the many design opportunities that followed it. Architectural historians Jeffrey Karl Ochsner and Dennis Andersen, in their book “Distant Corner,” note that with no surviving accounts of their brief partnership, “it is impossible to identify particular projects with each partner.”
The brick-and-stone structure was better known in its earlier years as the Hotel Northern. A few years after World War II the upper floors were closed-off, as they were in many structures in then-down-and-out Pioneer Square. That unwittingly saved them for later restoration.
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In 1999, if memory serves, I was invited to visit the sealed hotel to admire its high ceilings, brass fixtures, paneling and hardwood floors with a group of other Allied Arts time travelers. The invitation most likely came through the Samis Foundation, then preparing to restore the building and create 40-odd high-ceiling lofts and eight penthouse units with “breathtaking views.”
“Washington Then and Now,” by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased through www.washingtonthenandnow.com ($45).