AKA: Hudson Hotel, International District, Seattle, WA; Gee How Oak Tin Benevolent Society, International District,Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Bockerman and Chinn, Architects (firm); Haynes, Charles Lyman, Architect (firm); Kovalenko Architects (firm); Willatzen and Byrne, Architects (firm); Frederick William Bockerman (architect); Francis Barry Byrne (architect); Samuel Wing Chinn (architect); Charles Lyman Haynes (architect); Robert F. Kovalenko (architect); Andrew Christian Peter Willatzen (architect)

Dates: constructed 1909

3 stories

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519 7th Avenue South
International District, Seattle, WA 98104-2905

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Building History

Initially built by three Scandinavian immigrants named Nelson, Tagholm, and Jensen, this tenement housed other recent arrivals to Seattle. It was transformed into the Hotel Hudson, accommodations for workingmen. After this, Alaskeros lodged here when it was known as the Louisa Hotel. Alsakeros were generally from China, the Philippines or Japan, who stayed at the Louisa while they sought work with employment offices filling openings in AK canneries. The Wah Mee Club operated on the first floor for 60 years.

On 06/06/2017, architect Mark Simpson, great grandson of an original investor, O.J. Nelson, wrote about the Nelson-Tagholm-Jensen Tenement: "I am the Great Grandson of OJ Nelson, one of the three Danish immigrants that developed the building. It was in my family until the 70’s when the WOO family bought it, and still own it. The original architect (not stated in the description on your site) was Willatzen and Byrne. I have the original drawings from 1909." (Thank you to Mr. Simpson for this information. See email from Simpson to the author, 06/06/2017.)

In 1983, 13 people were killed in the Wah Mee Club, a gambling club that began as a speakeasy in the 1920s, by three men, Willie Mak, Benjamin Ng, and Tony Ng, who saw the victims as easy marks for robbery. The Wah Mee Club, located on the building's first floor, was closed in 1983 and never reopened. The men were all apprehended and sentenced to jail, the first two for murder, the last for robbery only. The gunman actually tied up and shot 14, but a 62-year-old man struggled free and identified the shooters.

Architects Bockerman and Chinn supervised renovations to the building when it served as the home of the Gee How Oak Tin Benevolent Society, a Chinese-American settlement organization. Kovalenko Architects remodeled the building in 1991; at about the same time, Kovalenko Hale was also renovating another work by architect Charles Lyman Haynes (1870-1947), the Bonair Hotel/Ray Hotel complex.

Partially demolished; the interior of the building was removed following a fire on 12/24/2013, leaving only the brick exterior. Prior to the fire, the first floor contained seven businesses and the Wah Mee Club, located on Maynard Alley. Part-owner of the building, Timothy Woo told the Seattle Times in 2014: "We are going to try and save as much of the brick exterior as we can, but we’ll scoop out the insides,” Woo said. “This is a historic building to the community. It contributes to the overall feel of the International District, so we want to preserve it as much as we can.” (See Coral Garnick, "Owners to raze part of Wah Mee building, preserve its exterior,"Accessed 03/21/2014.)

PCAD id: 18285