AKA: University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Philosophy Hall, Seattle, WA; University of Washington, Seattle (UW), Savery Hall, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Bebb and Gould, Architects (firm); Hoffman Construction Company (firm); Jentoft and Forbes, General Contractors (firm); Pioneer Masonry Restoration Company, Incorporated (firm); Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Incorporated (WJE) (firm); Charles Herbert Bebb ; Richard Elstner (structural engineer); Michael Field (building contractor); Forbes (building contractor); Carl Freylinghausen Gould Sr. (architect); Lee Hawley Hoffman (building contractor); Joel Jacobsen (building contractor); Jack Raymond Janney (structural engineer); Jentoft (building contractor); Alonzo Victor Lewis (sculptor); Jack Wiss (structural engineer)

Dates: constructed 1917-1920

3 stories

view all images ( of 2 shown)

Seattle, WA

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map


Commerce Hall, (today the northern portion of Savery Hall), was one of the first two Quad buildings designed by Bebb and Gould, Architects, along with the Home Economics Building (later renamed Raitt Hall); the two set the Jacobethan/Gothic tone for the rest of the campus. The Commerce and Home Economics Halls diverged from the French Chateau and eclectic styles of previous University of Washington buildings, such as Denny or Parrington Halls. Academic quadrangles of buildings, a plan type derived from medieval monasteries and early universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, became the main plan type used by American institutions beginning with Jefferson's design for the University of Virginia. (See Paul V. Turner, Campus An American Planning Tradition, New York: Architectural History Foundation; Cambridge, MA, London: MIT Press, 1985].)Beaux-Arts enthusiasm for the Gothic Revival in the 1900-1920 period coincided with a building boom in American higher education, causing frequent usage of quadrangles in university master plans. In this way, the University of Washington emphasized its parity with Princeton and other established schools building Gothic quads.

Building History

Two parts of Savery Hall, known as Commerce Hall (north portion) and Philosophy Hall (south) originally, were erected in 1917 and 1920, its completion slowed by the onset of World War I. In 1947, the two buildings were collectively renamed for Professor William Savery (1875-1945), the first Chair of the Philosophy Department, who served between 1902 and the mid-1940s. The construction of the Elizabethan Commerce and Philosophy Halls closed the northwest side of the Quad; the Departments of Philosophy, Sociology and Economics, have used the building from its beginning. Excavation for the Philosophy wing of Savery Hall was completed by 06/1919.

Building Notes

Seattle architectural firm Bebb and Gould employed reinforced concrete as the structural material for Commerce and Philosophy Halls. Many articles charting the progress of construction of Philosophy Hall appeared in the Seattle Times throughout 1919. Its edition of 12/16/1919 stated: "The board of regents of the University of Washington at a meeting yesterday afternoon awarded constracts for the contruction of a new reinforced concrete class room building to be known as Philosophy Hall. The cost of the building will be $301,794.96. Contracts were awarded as follows: Construction to Hansen Contracting Company, $343,389; plumbing, Rautman Heating & Plumbing Company, $22,144; wiring: R.R. Lang & Co., Tacoma, $11,760; painting, Atlas Paint Company, $5,744; hardware, Seattle Hardware Company, $3,419.95. The structure is designed for the mathematics, political science, philosophy and psychology departments, and special psychological laboratories. The cost already incurred, which includes excavation and architect's fee, would bring the total up to $366,044.95. But of this total $60,000 covers the cost of installation of technical laboratories and additional office facilities." The cost of Philosophy Hall increased 50% over that of Commerce Hall, completed just three years previously. In 12/1919, the Seattle Times reported that Philosophy Hall would be completed by 08/01/1920. (See "Let Contracts for Philosophy Hall, Seattle Times, 12-16-1919, p. 15.)

The artist Alonzo Victor Lewis (1886–1946), born in UT, attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, before moving to Spokane, WA, and then Seattle, WA, in 1912. Lewis painted in the Impressionist mode and attained acclaim for his architectural sculptures adorning various public buildings in WA State, including those on Philosophy-Commerce Halls (1917-1920), Education Hall (later renamed Miller Hall, 1922) and the "Winged Victory" at the State Capitol in Olympia, WA (1938). The University Daily reported on the World War I-themed architectural sculpture adorning Philosophy Hall: "Figures will include a Red Cross nurse, a soldier, General John Pershing, ..and among local subjects will be Mr. Earl Park [sic], chief draftsman of Bebb & Gould, architects who designed the building and Bebb himself. The figures were designed by Mr. [Harold Ogden] Sexsmith of the University Art Department, and Alex Kurn, draftsman in the office of the architect." (See "Grotesque Terra Cotta Mannikens [sic] Will Decorate New Philosophy Hall," Daily of the University of Washington, 09/28/1920.)

In 2009, the building housed the UW Department of Economics among other units.


In 1959, the building contractors, Jentoft and Forbes, received $251,761 to remodel Savery Hall. (See "Regents Approve Building Plans, Seattle Times, 06/21/1958, p. 3.) Savery Hall underwent a wholesale renovation that was completed in 06/2009. During this renovation, all departments in the building had to vacate it and were relocated to the campus's "surge" space, Condon Hall #2. The renovation team cincluded Wiss, Janney and Elstner, Architects, the Hoffman Construction Company, General Contractors, and the Pioneer Masonry Restoration Company, Incorporated, Masonry Contractors.

The renovation of Savery Hall was part of the UW's "Restore the Core" building campaign. The UW Capital Projects Office had several goals for the renovation: 1.) Preserve the historic character of the Jacobethan Revival building. 2.) Improve its energy efficiency through replacement of outmoded HVAC equipment and othe measures. Initially, the UW Capital Projects Offfice sought LEED Silver certification, but during the project upgraded its goal to Gold certication. 3.) Strengthen Savery Hall's resilience to seismic shocks.

According to the Masonry Systems.org web site, treatment of the building's brick exterior was one of the key elements of the project. It stated, "Using the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, a scope of repair was established for the masonry. According to the precepts set forth by the Standards, the project team sought to preserve and make necessary repairs to the building’s character defining features, such as grotesques, niches, and ornamental terra cotta. In addition to designing specialized repairs of the terra cotta, brick, and sandstone, some components of the masonry required stabilization and it was necessary to repoint the entire building to maintain a weathertight envelope." The industry web site continued: "The full masonry restoration cumulated in installation of newly fabricated terra cotta units, replacing raked brick mortar joints with weathered joints to shed water, seismically retrofitting the brick veneer, repair and installation of new sandstone, and cleaning the building. The interior has been remodeled using several sustainable and energy efficient design strategies." (See Masonry Systems.org, "University of Washington - Savery Hall, Seattle, WA, MCAA Team Awards Winner,"accessed 03/26/2015.) The Masonry Institute of Washington (MIW) awarded Savery Hall one of its 2010 Excellence Awards in Masonry Design.

PCAD id: 16372