Structure Type: built works - dwellings - housing - student housing; built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Storey, Ellsworth P., Architect (firm); Ellsworth Prime Storey (architect)

Dates: constructed 1915-1916

3 stories, total floor area: 16,382 sq. ft.

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1616 NE 47th Street
University District, Seattle, WA 98105-4220

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Ellsworth Prime Storey's Sigma Nu House is one of the more extensive and distinguished Prairie Style residences in Seattle. A large scale house/dormitory, it presents a decided stylistic contrast to the Tudor Revival and Neo-classical sorority and fraternity houses that surround it on the University of Washington's Frat Row.

Building History

Noted Seattle architect Ellsworth Prime Storey (1879-1960), a designer sympathetic to the Arts and Crafts principles, designed this residence influenced by the MIdwestern Prairie Style, as developed in the Midwest by such architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Schmidt, Garden and Martin, George W. Maher, and George Elmslie and William Gray Purcell. (Purcell worked in San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland during his career. as well as in Chicago and Minneapolis.) Some of the detailing also reflected contemporary interest in Elizabethan architecture, as seen in the window proporations and vaguely crenellated parapet on the eastern section of the house. Prairie Style elements included the cantilevered eaves, long, thin windows on the front facade, the wide moldings around each window, and the attenuated proportions of the windows and columns surrounding the main entry, The triple string course placed just under the top floor windows was also a typical Prairie Style feature, creating a strongly horizontal effect for the building counteracting the emphatic verticality of the front windows. The Sigma Nu House cost approximately $35,000 to erect and was finished by 1916.

Building Notes

The Guide to Architecture in Washington State (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980) indicated erroneously that this fraternity house was built in 1926. The UW's Gamma Chi Chapter of Sigma Nu was formed in 1896.

In 2015, the Sigma Nu House occupied a 8,640-square-foot (0.20-acre) lot, and contained 16,382 gross square feet, 14,931 net.