(click photos to enlarge)
While supervising the construction of the prestigious St. James Cathedral, architects Marbury Somervell and Joseph S. Cote, both new to Seattle, became inevitably known to new clients. Their two largest “spin-off” commissions were for Providence Hospital and these Perry Apartments. The Perry was built on the old Judge Hanford family home site while the Cathedral was still a work-in-progress two blocks away. St. James was dedicated in 1907 and the ornate seven-story apartment was also completed that year for its “first life” at the southwest corner of Madison and Boren.
What the partners could not have known was that they were actually building two hospitals. The Perry was purchased in 1916/17 by Sister Frances Xavier Cabrini – not then yet a saint – and converted into the Columbus Sanatorium and later the Cabrini Hospital, and thereby became the Catholic contributor to the make-over of First Hill – or much of it – into Seattle’s preferred “Pill Hill.”
In this view the new Perry is still eight floors of distinguished flats for high-end renters who expect to be part of the more-or-less exclusive neighborhood. Neighbors close enough to ask for a cup of sugar include many second generation Dennys, the Lowmans, Hallers, Minors, Dearborns, Burkes, Stimsons, Rankes, and many more of Seattle’s nabobs.
Most importantly class-wise were the Carkeeks. In the mid 1880s the English couple, Morgan and Emily Carkeek, built their mansion directly across Boren Avenue from the future Perry when the neighborhood was still fresh stumps and a few paths winding between them. The Carkeek home became the clubhouse for First Hill culture and no doubt a few Perry residents were welcomed to its card and masquerade parties.
Aside from the trolleys that ran between a waterfront turntable on Western Avenue and Madison Park, Madison Street was ordinarily quiet. Most citizens either walked or used the trolley. The motorcar, far right, is a rarity in this ca. 1909 scene. The view looks west towards the Perry Hotel on the far side of Boren Avenue.
The next postcard scene looks in the opposite direction from the hotel’s corner, east on Madison Street. The Stacy Mansion – later the University Club – is on the far left. The wrought iron fence on the right closes the grounds of Morgan and Emily Carkeek’s Mansion from the sidewalk.
With the Perry’s sale to the Catholic order the hotel became first the Columbus Sanatorium and later the Cabrini Hospital. Below are six posing Cabrini nurses and below them is a late 1930’s tax photo of the hospital, used compliments of the Washington State Archive.
10 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Perry Apartments”
I like the original Perry Apartments! I find it so interesting in looking at what some people would call progress.If not careful we will “progress” ourselves into a collection of ugly, dilapidated buildings not fit for man nor breast.
I was born 1942 in Columbus Hospital on Columbus Day 10/12. It was renamed Cabrini Hospatal after 1942
I was born there in 1960, after being renamed Cabrini Hospital. One thing is for sure: if you were born on Pill Hill, there’s no arguing your standing as an original Seattleite!
Columbus Hospital was renamed Cabrini in 1958…I was born at the hospital Dec 9, 1946…my brother and sister also were born there…and I am freaked out a little, to learn that a couple of scenes from “Twin Peaks”, featuring David Bowie, were filmed in the by then unoccupied Cabrini Hospital!….that series is one of my all-time favorites!…Cabrini was sadly torn down in 1995….a few years after the TV series….and I agree with another comment, about being a true Seattleite if you were born on Pill Hill!…My mother was born in Columbus Hospital, in 1927, and she is still with us at age 92!.
Those are not the nuns from Cabrini. Their habits are all wrong. This is a link to a photo of St. Frances Cabrini, foundress of the order. She is wearing the habit of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, which is the order that ran Cabrini Hospital.
I worked at Cabrini Hospital in the early 1970s; by that time the only Sisters there were retired, and lived upstairs.
I was born in the St Frances Xavier Cabrini Hospital in 1961. I recall when later admitted at 5 years old do to needing Urgent Appendicostomy. They would not allow my older bother of 2 years in. He came to back of hospital up the hill of grass to my window. I cannot seem to find a picture of that hill to a patients window. is there a picture of that side of building?