AKA: Harrisburg Building, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA; Broderick, Henry, Building #1, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Saunders and Houghton, Architects (firm); Charles Herbert Bebb ; Edwin Walker Houghton (architect); Charles Willard Saunders (architect)

Dates: constructed 1889-1892

7 stories, total floor area: 89,550 sq. ft.

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615 2nd Avenue
Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 98104-2203

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The Bailey Block was built on the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Cherry Street; its address has also been given as 113-117 Cherry Street and either 615-623 or 613-621 2nd Avenue.


This large office building, constructed on locally quarried Tenino Sandstone, was built incrementally with stories added one or two at a time over a period of years. The building was costly to construct due to its cut-stone exterior, and was emblematic of the new fireproof construction mandated by city ordinance following the Great Seattle Fire of 06/06/1889.

Building History

William Elder Bailey (b. 02/10/1860) came from a wealthy family in Harrisburg, PA; his father, Charles S. Bailey, was an "iron master," who had, by 1870, accumulated a significant $55,000 in assets. William, the eldest of four sons, attended Phillips Academy and Yale University, and after college in 1882-1883, enjoyed a grand tour across Europe, according to a US Passport application of 1882. Bailey resided In Harrisburg, PA, for a short time working with his father, before he migrated to Seattle, WA, c. 1889, with an intermediate stop in CA. He remained in Seattle for approximately five years, where he worked in real estate and banking, and became an important businessman investing in Seattle following the Great Fire of 06/06/1889; he left the city during the Depression of 1893, an event that hit Seattle hard, and drained away many businessmen who relocated to find opportunities elsewhere, often back to their brithplaces. According to the Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography: Illustrated, Volume 2, "During the five years which he spent in that city he was a director of two banks and a member of the first board of park commissioners ever organized in Seattle. In 1893 he returned to Pennsylvania, and made his home in Thorndale, Chester county, later settling in Harrisburg, where he has since resided." (See John Woolf Jordan, Thomas Lynch Montgomery, Ernest Spofford, and Frederic Antes Godcharies, Encyclopedia of Pennsylvania Biography: Illustrated, Volume 2,[New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1914], p. 443.) Following his return to PA, Bailey worked as the President and Treasurer of the Union Real Estate and Investment Company in Harrisburg.

While in Seattle, Bailey provided the new architectural firm of Saunders and Houghton its first commission, the Bailey Building. It has been noted that William Elder Bailey may have encouraged Saunders to travel from Pasadena, CA, to Seattle, WA, after the Great Fire of 1889, in June, with the promise of work. (See "Department of Neighborhoods Historical Sites Summary for 619 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000130,"Accessed 03/12/2010.) Like some buildings of the time, it was erected gradually, with a story or two being added incrementally. As architectural historians Jeffrey Ochsner and Dennis Andersen have indicated, Saunders alone, the firm of Saunders and Houghton together, and Houghton alone worked on the building's design.

English-born architect Charles Bebb (1856-1942) contributed to the design of this building while he worked in the Saunders and Houghton architectural office. It was known as the "Railway Exchange Building" in the 1920s-1930s, when a number of rail and steamship companies operated offices there. Real estate man Henry Broderick later purchased the property and surprisingly renamed it the "Broderick Building." The Alhaldeff Properties Limited Partnership sold the Broderick Building on 03/21/2007 to a holding company called Broderick Building LLC for $13,422,474; its appraised value in 2010 was $11,100,200.

Building Notes

The Bailey Block has been known by several other names during its long existence, including the Harrisburg Block, Railway Exchange Building and the Broderick Building.

In contrast to the old-fashioned styling of the Washington Territory Investment Company Building (1890, demolished) erected across the street by Saunders and Houghton for William Elder Bailey (born 02/10/1860 in Harrisburg, PA), this building, by the same architects, reflected contemporary architectural trends emanating from the East, such as the work of the progressive Chicago firm, Adler and Sullivan. Unlike the Washington Territory Building, the Bailey Block was not meant for a staid financial institution, and William Bailey could produce a modern, costly edifice that suited his own tastes. Its lack of ornamentation, either Romanesque or classical, had an up-to-date appearance, seen particularly well in the cleanly rectangular window openings. The building cost approximately $200,000 and had its two street facades faced entirely with cut Tenino sandstone. The use of cut masonry without brick or terra cotta was very unusual at the time.

In 1892, the Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company maintained its Seattle office in Room #204 of the Bailey Building. (See Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1892, p. 845.)

Many important businesses have rented space in the Baily Building since its construction. The 1895 Seattle City Directory (p. 7) indicated that the Puget Sound Glass Company occupied Offices #324-325 in the Bailey Building. In 1900, the J.A. Kellogg and Company Insurance Company had its offices in Room #204, and as did the A.S. Kerry Lumber Company in Room C. (The Kerry Lumber Company opened its new lumber mill in North Seattle, at the foot of Broad Street in 03/1900.) Brokers R.F. Guerin and Company occupied Room #312 in the Bailey Block 1903. The Bank of Commerce occupied the first-floor corner storefront in 1905. In 1926, the United Buildings Corporation of Seattle occupied Room #204 in the Railway Exchange Building. Gus Soteros operated the Railway Exchange Coffee Shop in this building c. 1931. It also housed the first Seattle offices of the US Government's Coast and Geodetic Survey.

In 2010, it occupied a 12,960 square-foot (0.30 acres) lot; the interior had 89,550 gross square feet, 81,800 net.

The building's name was spelled "Bayley" on the historic landmark plaque on the building's exterior (viewed in 2016).


A Department of Neighborhoods Historical Sites Summary for 619 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000130 noted the incremental construction process of the Bailey Building: "The Bailey Building was designed first as a four story building, then as a five story building and finally augmented to six stories. Construction of the six story building was somewhat slow, but careful and it was completed in 1892." This report indicated that Edwin Houghton, an Englishman, had a careful character, who didn't want to rush the building process, but did his work "slowly, surely and well." (See "Department of Neighborhoods Historical Sites Summary for 619 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0939000130,"Accessed 03/12/2010.) Some sources indicate the building to have six stories, others, like the King County Assessor, said seven; this was because the building's Cherry Street facade sloped down from east to west, revealing a basement story as the grade receded.