AKA: Marlborough Apartments, First Hill, Seattle, WA

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

Designers: Morrison, Earl W., Architect (firm); Western Construction Company (firm); Earl Wilson Morrison (architect)

Dates: constructed 1926-1927

12 stories, total floor area: 95,280 sq. ft.

view all images ( of 1 shown)

1220 Boren Avenue
First Hill, Seattle, WA 98101-2794

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map
Boren Avenue at University Street


The Marlborough was built during a robust building boom in Seattle, when buildings of all types were being built at record levels. Architect Earl W. Morrison (1889-1955) prospered at this time, carving out a specialty designing expensive apartment towers near Downtown Seattle.

Building History

In 1926-1927, developers rushed to build a number of fashionable apartment buildings and apartment hotels in this section of First Hill to house Downtown Seattle office workers and nearby hospital employees. Many developers chose to build up-scale apartment buildings, like the Marlborough, to maximize rental income. An advertisement in the Seattle Daily Times of 01/24/1928 (p. 4) opened with the phrase: "To Live at Marlborough House Is a Mark of Social Distinction." Seattle underwent a building boom in apartment buildings and hotels in 1927, with more than $7 million worth erected. Cost of the Marlborough was put at $750,000 in an advertisement in the Seattle Daily Times, 07/09/1928 (p. 34). Others built in 1927 included: Exeter Apartments ($889,000), Bergonian Hotel ($525,000), Hotel Hungerford ($500,000), Olive Tower Apartments ($325,000), Emerson Apartments ($225,000), Stratford Hotel ($275,000), and the Continental Hotel ($176,000). (See "Seattle 'The City that Is Ever Building!'" Seattle Daily Times, 07/09/1928, p. 34.) To enhance its marketing pitched to upscale professionals, English names were used extensively. (Morrison also designed another nearby apartment building, the Gainsborough, at 1017 Minor Avenue,named for the English landscape and portrait painter, Thomas Gainsborough [1727-1788], a favorite of 1920s art connoisseurs.)

The Sovereign Investment Company, a thoroughly British-sounding developer name, commissioned Earl W. Morrison to design this apartment tower. In the design phase, the Marlborough was originally called the "Chancellor," a name suggesting that a resident had a top portfolio in the English prime minister's cabinet. Morrison worked in association with the Western Construction Company to erect the high-rise.

The three-story house of Margaret Lenore Denny (1848-1915) stood at 1220 Boren Avenue prior to 1926, and was demolished to make way for Marlborough House.

Building Notes

The 12-story, reinforced concrete apartment house spread over a lot 19,195 square feet (0.44 acre) in size. It contained 95,280 gross square feet, 57,127 net. In 2010, the building had 82 apartments, all condominiums. Prior to 10/16/2011, PCAD inaccurately indicated that the Marlborough Building had been designed by Bertram Dudley Stuart, Jr., (1885-1977), a British architect born in London, who migrated to Seattle, WA, via Edmonton, AB, and Vancouver, BC. This erroneous reference was gleaned from Dennis Andersen's short biography in the "Additional Significant Seattle Architects," appendix to the authoritative book Shaping Seattle Architecture (p. 352). This error was graciously pointed out by Spokane architect and historian Glenn Davis, who has done extensive research on the Seattle architect, Earl W. Morrison (1889-1955).

Tel: 206.622.2422 (2010).