The building’s name, Palmer, is either chiseled or cast in stone above the front door. This top-heavy brick pile began its relatively brief life in 1890, with the Ripley Hotel its main tenant. The name of the hostelry was later changed to Hotel York, as we see it here. The ever-helpful UW Press book, Shaping Seattle Architecture, names the Palmer’s architects, but not the Palmer’s owner. Perhaps it was Alfred L. Palmer, who dealt in both real estate and law in the early 1890s, the year this ornate addition to the city’s landscape opened.
Architects Arlen Towle and Frank Wilcox shared a brief partnership between 1889 and 1891. Perhaps they can be numbered among those opportunist professionals who hurried here after the Seattle business district burned to the ground on June 6, 1889. On its move north, the Great Fire was stopped short of University Street by the inflammable foundation of the under construction Arlington Hotel (the Bay Building). Only two blocks to the north, at the northwest corner of Pike Street and Front (First) Avenue, Palmer also got its start in 1889
Second only to the hotel,the Empire Laundry was another of the Palmer’s commercial tenants. It is represented here by two horse-drawn delivery wagons and its sidewalk storefront, which is nestled between the entrance to the York Café at the corner and the door to the hotel, at far right. Inside the hotel lobby one could request a room on the American Plan, which included meals, most likely at the York Cafe, for between $1.00 and $1.50 a day. Many of the rooms – perhaps most – also provided what a classified ad for the York described as an “elegant view of the bay.”
Judging from the ads, the York’s most sensational renters were health providers who promoted either magnetic healing or massage or both, as with the Chicagoan Miss LaRoy’s “magnetic scientific massage.” Most persistent were Professors Gill and Brunn. For several weeks in 1902, they provided a growing list of therapies, including osteo-manipulation, vibration, hypnotism, vital magnetism, a “new light cure,” and psychology for “bad habits.” Elsewhere in the hotel, Miss Mooreland, like Miss LaRoy, also from Chicago, provided sponge baths and massage, “a specialty.” The “well-known trance medium,” Mme. Pederson, shared “the secrets of your life” and advised “how to keep out of the pathway of despair.”
There was no cure, however, for the sudden tremors that came over, but, more importantly, under the adolescent hotel. In 1903 the Great Northern railroad began tunneling beneath the city, and from the tunnel’s north portal near Virginia Street, the boring soon shook the York’s foundations. The Hotel York was razed in November 1904, a few days after the cutting and digging from the tunnel’s two ends met at the center.
Anything to add, Paul? Surely Jean. Here are a dozen – or so – links fastened by Ron Edge. There will be some repeats between them, but such, we know, is the exercise of learning.