Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses

Designers: Jennings, Stephen Austin, Architect (firm); Stephen Alston Jennings (architect)

Dates: constructed 1903-1904

3 stories

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911 Summit Avenue
First Hill, Seattle, WA 98104

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The Adrian Court Apartments stood at 911-913 Summit Avenue in First Hill.


This reinforced concrete apartment block was completed in mid-1904, and offered 18 units for a well-heeled clientele. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was filled with stories noting the social luncheons and receptions held by residents, particularly during its earliest years of operation, from 1905 until 1909. The publisher of the Post-Intelligencer, John Lockwood Wilson, and his wife, Edna, maintained apartments in the Adrian Court, moving from the Lincoln Hotel in 07/1904. (See "Society Personals," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 07/03/1904, p. 9.)

Building History

George W. Mahoney owned and lived in the Adrian Court during its earliest years, a fact noted in newspaper classifieds advertising apartments for rent. The building took its name from a bust of the Emperor Hadrian displayed in the building's reception room. This antique bust, along with those of Nero and Caracalla, had been owned by the Mahoney Family for many years. Mahoney may have named the building for this bust and because Hadrian was a noted engineer who utilized concrete in various innovative building projects.

Introducing the building to Seattle readers, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said: "Adrian Courts, at the corner of Summit avenue and Madison street, recently completed for Col. George W. Mahoney, possesses unusually interesting features. In addition to being one of the most artistic and sumptuous structures of its kind in the city, it is the first solid concrete building to be erected in the Pacific Northwest, and the success of that style of construction in this climate will be watched with great interest by builders and architects generally." (See "Adrian Courts, Erected by G.W. Mahoney at the Corner of Summit and Madison," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 09/11/1904, p. 14.)

In an article on the opening of the Adrian Court Apartments in 1904, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer quoted an article published in the Building Record discussing the early history of reinforced concrete usage in construction in the Pacific Northwest. It stated: "'The history of concrete use in Seattle dates really from the erection of the Miles & Piper building, on First avenue, in 1900, the first structure in this city the foundation and basement of which were entirely of concrete. Previously concrete had been used in pile foundations in the tide flat district, the system being to drive the piles in bunches, chain them together, and sink concrete between and over them. However, there is no question that Architect Max Umbrecht initiated in this city by his designs for the Miles & Piper block the full structural use of concrete. He found Puget sound climate remarkably well suited to concrete use--no excessive hears and colds here, and no great contractions and expansions of the material. A great spurt was given to the further use of concrete in 1902-1903, when with bricklayers at $7 a day, and scarce at that price, something had to be done in the way of departure from the traditions of brick building. A notable instance of building in Seattle under these conditions is the Lumber Exchange block, Saunders & Lawton architects. The real newness of the use of concrete in general structure on the Pacific coast can be estimated perhaps best by the statement that in Portland there is but one building reported to us which has concrete in it. This is the annex or extension to the Olds, Wortman & King department store, under the plan of Architect Richard Martin jr. The floors are all reinforced concrete and the walls are of steel and concrete and terra cotta. Mr. Martin had great difficulty in obtaining the scanction in this year of 1903, of the Portland building authorities to his plans for a steel-concrete structure. At Tacoma a fine specimen of fireproof concrete structure which is a landmark in historical concrete is the Provident building built under the plans of G. Wesley Bullard, and with the use of the expanded metal system controlled by F.T. Crowe & Co. The date is not distant when San Francico first began the use of concrete beams. Ten years ago the adoption in San Francisco of self-sustaining and load-sustaining concrete beams was considered an innovation and it excited at the time an amount of discussion. Another criterior of the novelty of concrete construction hereabouts is the fact that in Seattle today there are only two structures completely cement or concrete in character. One is the Adrian Courts block an imposing structure built under the plans of Architect A.B. Jennings, and the other the Stepman block, at Ballard, built of cement blocks--the only complete specimen of cement block construction in the Northwest. These two structures were completed this year.'" (See "Adrian Courts, Erected by G.W. Mahoney at the Corner of Summit and Madison," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 09/11/1904, p. 14.)

Building ownership changed hands in 09/1950. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported: "Sale of the Adrian Court Apartments, 911 Summit Av., was announced yesterday by Fred J. O'Brien, vice president of the Henry Broderick, Inc. The apartment house, built in 1910, was the first concrete building in the city. Clinton R. Perkins bought the property from Floy [sic] C.A. Oakley. Perkins plans a modernization program to provide stores for the Madison Street frontage. Purchase price was not announced. The property had been held for about $125,000." (See "Adrian Court Apartments Sold," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 09/24/1950, p. 16.)

It was sold again in 02/1962 for $360,000. Again, theSeattle Post-Intelligencer chronicled the transaction: ""The Adrian Court Apartments of 52 units and four stores, 911 Summit Ave., has been sold for $360,000 to Hilltop Realty, Inc., local investment firm, Jennings Hanseth, commercial sales manager of Henry Broderick, Inc., reported yesterday. It will be renamed Hilltop House. It was sold for Clinton R. Perkins, trustee, prominent real estate executive who owns the Cambridge Apartment and Frye Hotel and operates the City Center Motel, Seattle, and Blair House, a motel in Las Vegas. The Adrian was built by Cyril Mahoney [sic], a patron of the arts, who placed a large bust of the Emperor Adrian in the lobby. It was extensively remodeled by Perkins in 1951, with 18 large units converted to the present 52, at a cost of $160,000." (See "Adrian Court Sold for $360,000," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/04/1962, p. WM7.)

Building Notes

While he was Secretary of War during the Roosevelt Administration (1904-1908), William Howard Taft (1857-1930) visited Seattle and stayed at the Adrian Court apartment of Senator John Lockwood Wilson (1850-1912) and his wife, Edna Sweet Wilson (1860–1934). (See "Secy. taft Reaches City on His Way to Orient," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 09/09/1907, p. 1.) Wilson, a lawyer, was the publisher of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer after 1899.

Edna Wilson, following her husband's death in 1912, chose to sublet her Adrian Court Apartment to the Sunset Club, an exclusive social club that promoted social and educational events for its members. According to historian Mary T. Henry, writing for "They rented the furnished rooms for $150 a month and enhanced them with their own fine linens, silver, and other accoutrements. Elegant buffets, teas, and musicales were held in these quarters. For intellectual development, speakers were invited to discuss topics that ranged from the conditions of government to missionary work with Japanese immigrants." (See Mary T. Henry,, "Sunset Club (Seattle)," published 06/14/2014, accessed 09/12/2019.) The club, founded in 1913, met here in its early years, before the completion of its First Hill clubhouse by architect Joseph Coté in 1915.


This large apartment building was razed. The Swedish Cancer Institute Arnold Pavilion (1221 Madison Street) and the Nordstrom Tower stood on this site in 2019.

PCAD id: 15618