AKA: Hotel Sorrento, First Hill, Seattle, WA; Sorrento Residential Hotel, First Hill, Seattle, WA

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

Designers: Thomas, Russell and Rice, Architects (firm); Walter E. Rice (architect); Ambrose J. Russell (architect); Irving Harlan Thomas (architect)

Dates: constructed 1907-1908

7 stories, total floor area: 76,631 sq. ft.

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900 Madison Street
First Hill, Seattle, WA 98104-1234

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Madison Street at Terry Avenue;

Building History

The Sorrento Hotel, located on the northwest corner of Madison Street and Terry Avenue, was one of Harlan C. Thomas's earliest large-scale commissions in Seattle, the other being the Chelsea Hotel in Lower Queen Anne. Built in 1907-1908, its owner, Samuel Rosenberg, anticipated a flood of tourists visiting Seattle during the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition; it was part of a boom in the construction of apartment hotels at this time in the city. Rosenberg leased the hotel from 1909-1919 to Langford and Henderson, who operated the hotel.

The Sorrento closed in 07/1964 reopening again under new ownership in 10/1964. It was owned by First Hill Investors in 2010.

Building Notes

The seven-story, brick-faced Sorrento was one of the most chic hotels in Seattle, WA, at the time of its construction; it had an elaborate marble and mahogany-paneled lobby featuring a fireplace faced with tiles made by the famous Rookwood Pottery Company of Cincinnati, OH; keeping with the hotel's Italian-derived theme, the fireplace tile composed a view of an Italian villa. A reception room for women, done in elaborate Louis XIV styling, stood just off the lobby. All 150 guest rooms were trimmed in either mahogany, walnut or Circassian alder and had exterior views and direct sunlight. Suites all had at least one bath and toilet. The top floor was the hotel's highlight. It housed a Japanese-styled tea room for ladies and a large dining room. Seating 300, this was the city's first rooftop restaurant offering sweeping views of Downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay. Architect Harlan Thomas patterned the 8,000-square-foot space, according to a 1909 article in the Seattle Sunday Times, on Rome's Pantheon, as it had a vaulted ceiling with a large clear span. The restaurant had an orchestra balcony located discretely in such a way making the "acoustics perfect."

In later years, Nirvana musician Kurt Cobain occupied rooms here c. 1993 with his wife, Courtney Love, and daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, shortly before his death.

In 2010, it had an assessed value of $7,845,300 and possessed 14,400 sq. ft. (0.33 acre) of land.