AKA: Emel Motor Hotel, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Kennedy Hotel, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses - apartment houses; built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Emmons, Lawrence, Interior Designer (firm); Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); Naramore, Bain, Brady, and Johanson, (NBBJ) (firm); Petersen, Hans, Building Contractor (firm); William James Bain Sr. (architect); Clifton J. Brady (architect); Lawrence Emmons (interior designer); John Graham Sr. (architect/engineer); Perry Bertil Johanson (architect); Floyd Archibald Naramore (architect); Hans Petersen (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1922

11 stories, total floor area: 67,390 sq. ft.

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1100 5th Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101

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In 1924, A.J. Lister managed the Spring Apartment-Hotel that advertised itself as having "furnished apartments, fire proof, new and modern." (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1924, p. 1318.)

Building History

Apartment hotels became popular in the 1910s and 1920s in Seattle for wealthier classes as secure, socially homogeneous long-term residences situated nearby to urban workplaces, as well as with visitors. Urban cores had become quite diverse by this time, and many upper-income people wanted insulation and sequestration from poorer elements of society. The Spring Apartment-Hotel catered to a generally well-heeled clientele, although it was not intended to accommodate large meetings and gatherings like the nearly contemporary Olympic Hotel (1924).

The prominent Seattle architectural firm of John Graham and Company designed the steel-framed tower for the Spring Apartment Hotel Company, one of whose investors was William H. Hainsworth(born c. 1868-d. 01/13/1943 in Kent, WA). Hainsworth managed and lived in the hotel in 1930. John Graham, Sr., (1873-1955) worked with the construction firm of Hans Petersen to erect the tower, completed in 1922, one year before the Olympic. According to the 1930 US Census, the Spring Apartment-Hotel had an estimated value of $650,000, a significant sum at the time.

In 1930, the Spring Apartment-Hotel had a mix of tenants, some long and some short-term, many professional and some working-class. Twenty-two apartment rents were listed in the 1930 US Census, with an average of $66.14 for the building. This cost was considerably higher than the 1930 nationalmedian rental cost of rented nonfarm homesin the US, of $32.06. (SeeAncestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1930; Census Place: Seattle, King, Washington; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0137; FHL microfilm: 2342233, accessed 06/07/2019. andStatistical Abstract of the United States / Prepared by the Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, Treasury Department, [Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1939], p. 50, accessed 06/07/2019.)

A successful salmon packer, John M. Emel, purchased the Spring Apartment Hotel in 1947. He changed the name of his 111-unit property to the "Emel Motor Hotel" in early 1959, in large part to communicate to potential guests that this downtown hotel was planned to accommodate automobiles. General affluence during the 1950s had created, by the end of the decade, a proliferation of cars that had exacerbated parking problems downtown shopping districts, By 1959, Seattle's core saw a rapid increase in the size and capacity of parking garages. John Emel's son, William worked as President of Spring Apartments, Incorporated, and was vice-president and general manager of the family hotel. William supervised the construction of the next-door, 140-car parking garage at a cost of $825,000 that was leased, in 1959, to Joseph Bailey. The garage opened in late 01/1959. (See Fergus Hoffman, "Restaurant, Lounge New Emel Project," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 06/17/1959, p. 36S and "Not Needed," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/04/1959, p. 10S. This latter article set the cost of the garage at $450,000, while another article indicated its cost to have been $261,000. See "$261,000 Parking Garage Completed," Seattle Times, 01/25/1959, p. 35.)

Following John Emel's death in 1965, the hotel was sold in 1968 to Jack Baird and Associates. During the period 1969-1975, multiple newspaper reports of robberies and suicides occurring at the hotel appeared. The Kennedy Hotel still had permanent residents in 1978, but transitioned to tourists and visitors aftet this.(See "Joseph Gluck," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 02/27/1978, p. C15.) By 1984, the Kennedy Hotel was known as a lower cost (under $40 per night) hotel in the downtown core.(See Don Duncan, "Plenty of rooms, if not 'saturated,'" Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 05/13/1984, p. E3.)

The building was renovated to become the Kimpton Hotel Vintage in 2005. In 2019, the legal owner of the building was a corporation incorporated in Delaware, "Wolfpack Owner LLC." This firm had an office in Bethesda, MD.

Building Notes

The building's original name was hyphenated, "Spring Apartment-Hotel." Over time, the hyphen was dropped.

In 1970, George Woo's Gold Coin Continental and Cantonese Cuisine occupied space in the Kennedy Hotel. (See "George Woo's Gold Coin Continental & Cantonese Cuisine ad," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Area 206 section, 10/09/1970, p. 4.) It replaced a restaurant named "Nisco's" operating in the Kennedy Hotel. (See "East is East," 08/07/1970, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Area 206 section, 08/07/1970, p. 4.)


According to a 1959 article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Ever since John Emel bought the Spring Apartment Hotel in 1947, he has been spending money on new furnishings, new decor, a drive-in lobby, and complete parking garage, and now it is a new restaurant and lounge at the corner of 5th Ave. and Spring St. With ebony paneling at $25 a square foot yet. The restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, will be known as 'Morrie's Restaurant and Charcoal Grill,' under the operation of Morrie Buckley, who has been around Seattle restaurants since he learned the business as a waiter at the old Rippe's. Larry Emmons is the designer responsible for Morie's decor, the same Emmons who did the Olympic Hotel's Marine and Terrace Rooms. Beautifully lighted and richly furnished, the dining room and lounge reflect the expectations of management that to the tables down at Morie's will come many patrons of the new Seattle Public Library as well as hundreds of others bent on whiling away pleasant hours in other pursuits." (See Fergus Hoffman, "Restaurant, Lounge New Emel Project," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 06/17/1959, p. 36S.) The architectural firm of Naramore, Bain, Brady and Johanson (NBBJ), designed these 1959 alterations to the restaurant, working with Emmons..(See City of Seattle, Department of Neighborhoods, "Seattle Historical Sites: Summary for 1100 5th AVE," accessed 06/07/2019.) NBBJ also designed the next door parking garage, working with the Henrik Valle Company, Incorporated. (See "$261,000 Parking Garage Completed," Seattle Times, 01/25/1959, p. 35.)

Kimpton Hotels renovated the property last in 2014.