AKA: Schwabacher Store #5, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Fisher, Elmer, H., Architect (firm); Elmer Horace Fisher (architect)

Dates: constructed 1889-1890, demolished 1892

105 1st Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104-2501

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Yesler Street and First Avenue South.

Building History

The widely admired businessman and one-time Seattle Mayor Bailey Gatzert (1829-1893), brother-in-law of the Schwabacher Brothers, commissioned Elmer H. Fisher (1844-1905) to design this large, store on the southwest corner of Commercial Street (later 1st Avenue South) and Yesler Way. Fisher became, for a short time, the most prominent architect in Seattle, obtaining numerous commissions following the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. The Schwabachers, Jewish immigrants from Bavaria, first settled in San Francisco, CA, and soon looked to expand their mercantile operations in the new Washington Territory (formed in 1853). They began as general store provisioners in Walla Walla, WA, in 1860; in Walla Walla, they helped to outfit gold miners seeking their fortune in the Oro Fino Creek gold rush in ID. They also set up operations in Seattle by 1869, and had become a leading business in the city by the 1870s. The Schwabachers sold all manner of groceries and hardware to departing Klondike gold miners after 1897; ironically, the architect, Fisher, traveled to the Alaskan gold fields to try his luck in 1897.


Fire gutted the Schwabacher Brothers and Company Building #5 on 06/27/1892. Seattle architect Emil de Neuf (d. 1915) designed a replacement that still stands. After this 1892 fire, the Schwabacher Brothers divided their business into two Seattle operations: a grocery business known as Schwabacher Brothers and Company, run by Gatzert and later James S. Goldsmith (1865-1923), and a hardware business, the Schwabacher Hardware Company, headed by the San Francisco resident Sigmund Schwabacher (1841–1917), who commuted up to Seattle to handle urgent matters. The grocery business moved to first-floor quarters in the Burke Building at 314 Occidental Way South; the hardware business occupied rebuilt quarters on the southwest corner of Commercial Street and Yesler Way.

PCAD id: 4654