The gorgeous Washington Hotel had a short life before being torn down around 1906 along with the Denny Hill regrade in Seattle's downtown.

Share story










Like last week’s “Now and Then” comparison, this one looks toward the front entrance of the Moore Theatre. This unique photograph was recorded in late 1905 or early 1906, and looks through the intersection of Virginia Street and Second Avenue during the razing of Denny Hill for the Denny Regrade.

Use Jean Sherrard’s “now” view to grab a sense of where the Moore marquee would later stand after the regrading on Second Avenue was completed and the theater quickly constructed. It would materialize to the far side of the steam-powered excavator with the black roof, which stands right-of-center beyond the house-moving trestle. This crude but workable timber skid temporarily crosses the curving tracks used for the regrading work of removing the hill, most of it into Elliott Bay.

Of the scores of homes that covered Denny Hill, few were saved. This Italianate box being inched along the skids was one of the survivors. The grand Victorian landmark looming behind it was not. The Washington Hotel was one of the greater architectural losses in our still brief history.

Built in 1890 straddling Third Avenue on the front (south) hump of the hill, the hotel did not open until 1903 when James Moore — of the theater — purchased it from its squabbling owners and welcomed Theodore Roosevelt that spring as its first guest. Moore’s plans were to enlarge the hotel and put a roof garden on the theater to blend with the landscaping for the hotel. About the time this photo was recorded he changed his mind and allowed the hotel to be destroyed with the hill.

“Washington Then and Now,” by Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard, can be purchased for $45 through Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.