Seattle Now & Then: A Hotel at Pike and Boren

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)
NOW: The 1106 Pike Street address survives as the Villa, first during the Great Depression as a hotel, and since 1963 as the Villa Apartments.
NOW: The 1106 Pike Street address survives as the Villa, first during the Great Depression as a hotel, and since 1963 as the Villa Apartments.

What are now the Villa Apartments were first lifted above the busy intersection of Boren Avenue and Pike Street in 1909 for its then principal tenant, the Hotel Reynolds.  That year, a Seattle Times classified promised, “Everything new and up-to-date in every respect.  Rooms single or en suite, with private baths, electric lights and gas, rates reasonable.”

A Seattle Times clipping from June 20, 1909.
A Seattle Times clipping from June 20, 1909.

In addition to the hotel lobby and its namesake café, the storefronts facing Pike included, far left, a Singer Sewing Machine outlet on the corner with Boren, and on the far right at the alley, a purveyor of Paulhamus Pure Milk promised a “system of rigid cleanliness” beginning with the timely chilling of milk to fifty degrees at the dairy.  Next door was the Auction House, and next to Singer was the North Western Quick Shoe Repair Shop, which proposed to fix yours while you wait.  The classical entrance at the center of the Pike Street façade supported a tile frieze inscribed with the building name.  Fortunately, ‘Lyre Building’ was written there and not ‘Hotel Reynolds,’ for the hotel soon moved out and on.

Another Times clip.
Another Times clip.

By 1910 Pike Street was developing into “Auto Row.” That summer the Avondale Hotel moved in and stayed until well into the Great Depression of the 1930s, when rooms rented from $2.50 to $3.00 a week.  As late as 1958 rooms could be had for $7.00 a week, and for a dollar more, the by-then-renamed Villa Hotel offered room service.  In 1962, taking advantage of Seattle’s Worlds Fair real estate opportunities, the Villa’s rates may well have been inflated for the six-month run of Century 21. After the fair, the hotel became an apartment house, and it is as the Villa Apartments that it survives.

The
Left of center, the Villa Hotel in 1939, from a negative recorded for the a billboard company.  The picture’s own caption refers to the position of the billboard on the left, 60 feet west of Boren.

I thought it possible that the architect for this sturdy survivor was Walter Willcox.  In 1910 the Hotel Reynolds took possession of the new Willcox-designed Crouley Building on Fourth Avenue, one block north of Yesler Way.  Above the sidewalk, the hotel recycled the illuminated sign seen here on Pike.  I also noticed that above the windows of both the Lyre and Crouley buildings are similar cream-colored tile keystones that stand out like bakers’ caps.  I was wrong.  Diana James, the author of Shared Walls, a history of Seattle apartments, nominated William P. White, a prolific designer of built apartments here between about 1902 and 1917.  James then discovered that her “hunch” was supported by Michael House, State Architectural Historian, whose on-line essay on White’s career includes the Villa Apartments among his many accomplishments.  Thanks again to Diana James.

West across Boren from the
West across Boren from the Villa, the Prince Rupert was built mid-block north of Pike Street.  Here the hotel rest on a base of the 1912 Baist Real Estate Map

WEB EXTRAS

Anything to add, Paul?  Yes Jean and again with Ron Edge’s help.  Ron has found six neighborhood links and placed six photographs at the bottom to introduce them.  As is our custom, they are often rich with allusions of many sorts, and as is also our way some of these may be have been used in other contexts.  We continue to embrace my mother’s lesson learned from her in the late 1940s when she served a term as President of the Spokane Women’s Club, which was a few blocks from our home (actually, the church’s home: a parsonage) on 9th Avenue, one of the many verdant avenues on Spokane’s shaded but rarely shady South Hill.    Mom – Cherry was her nickname –  advised in all caps, “Repetition is the Mother of All Learning.”  To some readers all six of these links will be familiar for they were all “top features” here within the last three years.   The Plymouth Pillars printed next are, we hope and expect, treated in one of the six.  They stand at the northwest corner of Boren and Pike, and so directly across Boren from our hotel.  Following the pillars is a shot I snapped with with the popular and fast emulsion Tri-X 35mm film in the early 1970s.  It looks south up Boren across Pike.

The enduring Plymouth Pillars at the northwest corner of Boren and Pike.
The enduring Plymouth Pillars at the northwest corner of Boren and Pike.
The columns, 2014
The columns, 2014
Camlyn through the columns
Camlyn through the columns
Pedestrians at the corner, 1972.
Pedestrians at the corner, 1972.

THEN: First dedicated in 1889 by Seattle’s Unitarians, the congregation soon needed a larger sanctuary and moved to Capitol Hill.   Here on 7th Avenue, their first home was next used for a great variety of events, including a temporary home for the Christian Church, a concert hall for the Ladies Musical Club, and a venue for political events like anarchist Emma Goldman’s visit to Seattle in 1910. (Compliments Lawton Gowey)

THEN: We are not told but perhaps it is Dora and Otto Ranke and their four children posing with their home at 5th and Pike for the pioneer photographer Theo. E. Peiser ca. 1884.  In the haze behind them looms Denny Hill.   (Courtesy Ron Edge)

BOREN-&-University-Denny-&-Ainsworth-Homes-THEN-mr

 

 

2 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: A Hotel at Pike and Boren”

  1. I have a panoramic photo of the Lyre Building dated May 20, 1917 with motorcycles lined up in front of the Vernon & Son and Mercer & Munsell motorcycle shops there preparing for the “1st Annual Picnic Granite Falls”. I have another taken at the picnic, presumably in Granite Falls. I’d be happy to share with them with you.

  2. I have a photograph from 1917 that shows the building at Boren and Pike was actually the “Lurie Building”, not the “Lyre Building” so called in your article. the photo clearly shows the “U” in BUILDING shaped as a “V”, and the name is written as “LVRIE”. I found that a man named Louis Lurie was a real estate developer in Seattle just after the turn of the century. Soon after he moved to San Francisco.

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