The Occidental Hotel, opened in downtown Seattle in 1891, was the central feature of the Lebanon Building, also known as the Jesse George Building for one of its owners, who'd met his wife in Lebanon, Ore.

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by Paul Dorpat

With six redbrick stories and a corner tower to lend it some picturesque power, architect Elmer Fisher’s creation at the northeast corner of Occidental Avenue and Main Street was but one of the 50-some buildings he designed and built in 1889-90.

More than any other architect, Fisher determined what Seattle would look like after its Great Fire of 1889, in part because he was already in Seattle getting work before the business district was destroyed. And that was great luck.

Now I ask readers to think back to last week’s presentation of one of the best examples of the old pre-fire Seattle: the Pacific Block ca. 1886. It was kitty-corner to this Occidental Hotel — at the southwest corner here at Main and Occidental. A likely date for this Frank LaRoche study of the Occidental Hotel, aka Lebanon Building, is only five years later. The hotel was built on the fire’s ashes and completed in 1891. Here its namesake bar at the corner is not yet marked with its own sign. It also seems that windows are still being installed on the Main Street facade, far right.

When new, the Lebanon Building was also named for Jesse George, a German-American investment banker who was one of its owners. Much earlier, Jesse met his wife, Cassandra, at Santiam Academy in Lebanon, Ore., and hence the name. The couple had five children and a home at Fourth Avenue and Cherry Street on a lot that is now part of City Hall.

With Jesse’s death in 1895, Cassandra moved temporarily back to Oregon, where she became superintendent of the Portland Women’s Union. Then in 1902 she returned to Seattle and opened a rooming house for working girls in her old home at 411 Cherry.

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