2008-11-16 A Pioneer Square Victorian

(Original title: “A Victorian delight in Pioneer Square”)

The Terry-Denny Building, named for two of Seattle’s early Euro-American settlers, Charles Terry and Arthur Denny, was constructed following the Great Fire of 1889 and completed in 1891. Most likely 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. Its upper floors were closed off a few years after World War II, as they were in many structures in then-down-and-out Pioneer Square. That unwittingly saved them for later restoration.

If memory serves, in 1999, 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.”

THEN: The Terry-Denny Building, better known in its earlier years as Hotel Northern, was part of the grand new Pioneer Place (or Square) neighborhood built up in the early 1890s after the old one was reduced to ashes by Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.
THEN: The Terry-Denny Building, better known in its earlier years as Hotel Northern, was part of the grand new Pioneer Place (or Square) neighborhood built up in the early 1890s after the old one was reduced to ashes by Seattle's Great Fire of 1889.
NOW: Jean Sherrard gained entrance to the second floor of another post-fire building across First Avenue South to record this view of the restored Terry-Denny building with the trim address, 111 First Ave. S.
NOW: Jean Sherrard gained entrance to the second floor of another post-fire building across First Avenue South to record this view of the restored Terry-Denny building with the trim address, 111 First Ave. S.

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