(click to enlarge photos)
It would be a mistake to tack to the Hotel Main the setback tower rising from its roof. Rather, the Italianate tower is set next door atop Firehouse No. 10. It was used to connote the firemen’s high calling to smoke out hot spots in the Pioneer Square neighborhood
and also to dry hoses. The hotel was constructed in 1900 to the plans of Architect R. L. Robertson and the Firehouse with its tower was lifted above the northwest corner of Third Avenue and Main Street three years later. The station was stopped at two stories – plus the tower – but a third floor was added in 1912 for the department’s new Fire Alarm Office. A mere sixteen years later the public works 1928-29 Second Avenue Extension – a straightening between Yesler Way and Jackson Street – cut directly through No.10 and just missed the hotel.
In 1900 architect Robertson was fresh from completing the nearby Hambach Co.’s similarly sized business block (now the parking lot on First Ave. S., one lot south of Main Street) when early in the summer of 1900 he submitted plans for this three-story brick structure, but somehow with walls of “insufficient thickness.” It was W.N.G. Place, a city building inspector with a fitting name, who spotted Robertson’s code cutting trim and arrested him. Perhaps John Corgiat, the architect’s client, paid the fine as part of the $9,500 it took to complete his namesake building. Once expanded to code, the walls soon reached their decorative cornice where centered above the Main Street façade both Corgiat’s name and the date, 1900, could be easily read from the street.
Corgiat arrived in Seattle from California before the Great Fire of 1889, to which he lost his restaurant, the Louvre, Seattle’s first Italian-French eatery. The garrulous Corgiat founded Italian Lodge No. 1 of Seattle. Not surprisingly, his 1935 obituary described him as having been “much in demand as a public speaker.” The obit for the 78-year-old Italian immigrant also shared the irony that he had once sold forty acres near Green Lake to Seattle’s founders, the Dennys. Sometimes the glad-handering Corgiat could turn bellicose. After the Great Fire, he helped form a vigilante committee to help protect Seattle from the expected infusion onto its ruins of opportunist pickers and “bad egg bums.” While paying and collecting his accounts then, Corgiat had the habit of walking the streets of the business district with a bag of cash in one hand and a revolver in the other.
John Corgiat’s name held to the top of his business block until it was severally rattled by the earthquake of April 13, 1949. The removal of the cornice was then ordered by one of Building Inspector Place’s many successors. Through its years as a hostelry, the tenants of the Main Hotel were largely fixed-income single-room occupants. One of these, John E. Clark, was also a victim of the ’49 quake. Clark, a napping tenant, was awakened when part of the Main Hotel’s roof fell on him. It injured his head. The tenants of the two sidewalk storefronts to either side of the hotel’s keyhole front door included the Millionair Club in the late 1920s, and John Danz, Seattle’s long-lived motion picture scion who started as a clothier and haberdasher, perhaps here on the left at “The One Price Store.” In
1909 the Saloon on the right, then like the hotel still named for the street it faced, was ticketed for selling spirits on Sunday. Thirty-Four years later in 1944 the Main Hotel was accused of violating war-time rent regulations. In ten years more the hotel was sold by the Corgiat family estate to its neighbor, the Masin Realty Company.
We wonder, are the bricks stacked on the sidewalk, on the right, in front of The Loop Saloon, headed for Firehouse No. 10’s 1912 third-floor addition? A circa 1911 date is, we figure, ‘about right.’
To answer curious readers definitively, here is a blow up of the signage on the right side of the modern photo:
Happy New Year, lads! Let’s add a couple of photos from the Woodland Park Zoo, which I visited yesterday with my fifth/six graders from Hillside Student Community:
Anything to add, lads? Nothing Jean so singularly impressive as your playful otter or our hulking Komado dragon, but with sheer numbers we may make an impression. Ron Edge has put up a flock of relevant (from the neighborhood) features. Open each and discover many more links within – some inevitably repeated. We add bless Ron, redundancy, and our dogged decades of hunting and gathering. Damn, that is a fine dragon Jean!
6 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: The Corgiat Building near Pioneer Square”
Beautiful refurbished old building I recall when I lived in Seattle. So glad it wasn’t torn down. Wow,, Woodland park has come a long way since I last was there in 1981, my folks began taking me when Bobo was there in a cement box with bars, even as a small child it made me so sad to see him alone in that cold small area.
“NOW: When it was sold in 1953, the building was still in the hands of the Corgiat family. The purchaser was its neighbor, the distinguished furniture dealers, the Masin family.”
Are these old eyes bad or does the sign on the corner of the building really say “Rat Suck Fun” or something else? And pray tell, what kind of establishment would that be?
The Corgiat Building, Now photo:
Are my old eyes failing me or does the sign on the corner of the building in the now photo really say “Rat Suck Fun”? And what, pray tell, kind of establishment would that be?
“Flat Stick Pub”
Thank you. Was afraid my hometown, that I left in 1962, had started to get weird. LOL
For a blown up image, check out the Web Extras!