AKA: Seattle Theater #1, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - theatres

Designers: Saunders and Lawton, Architects (firm); George Willis Lawton (architect); Charles Willard Saunders (architect)

Dates: constructed 1893, demolished 1915

3 stories

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3rd Avenue and Cherry Street
Seattle, WA

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Located on the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street, the Seattle Theatre and Office Building had added significance as the third meeting place of the Rainier Club between 1893 and 1904, an elite social club composed of local businessmen and politicians. In 1904, it completed its own clubhouse at 820 4th Avenue designed by the Spokane architect, Kirtland K. Cutter (1860-1939). The Seattle Theatre opened at an inauspicious time, the year a financial depression swept the US. Because of this severe economic slowdown, most theatres in the city closed between 1894 and 1897. Only two theatres, for example, the Seattle and the Tivoli, advertised in the "Amusement" ads in the Seattle Times issue of 02/05/1896 (p. 3).

Building History

According to historian Eugene Clinton Elliott, in his study, A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, the Seattle Theatre #1 operated from 1892-1915. (See, Appendix I, Eugene Clinton Elliott, A History of Variety-Vaudeville in Seattle from the Beginning to 1914, [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1944], p. 66.) Architect Charles Willard Saunders, who came to Seattle from Pasadena, CA, designed a handful of theatres during his long and successful career, including the Seattle, the Alhambra #2 (1909) and the Masonic (1915).

In 1896, the Northwest Theatrical Association operated the Seattle Theatre and it employed Paul B. Hyman, who served as the resident manager.

In 1905, J.P. Howe was the manager and lessee operating the Seattle Theatre. (See Polk's Seattle Directory Company's Seattle City Directory, 1905,p. 1080.)

Building Notes

The Seattle Theatre #1 consisted of two parts, a three-story office space that lined 3rd Avenue and a taller auditorium that climbed up the Cherry Street hill to the east. Both buildings had Romanesque, arched windows, with rusticated stone trimming all first floor entryways. The theatre had an entrance on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street, and a entrance to the office building to the north on 3rd. A separate theatre entrance opened onto Cherry. Emphatic belt courses demarcated the first floors of both buildings from the above floors. The office building's third floor featured subtle, rusticated courses of stonework, while the cornice topping it had a pronounced dentil band.


The Arctic Building #2 later occupied the first Seattle Theatre's site.

PCAD id: 6381