AKA: Collins Block, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Chamberlin. Arthur Bishop, Architect (firm); Arthur Bishop Chamberlin (architect)

Dates: constructed 1892-1893

5 stories

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520 2nd Avenue
Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 98104-2336

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The Collins Block stood at 520-524 2nd Avenue on the southeast corner of James Street and 2nd Avenue.

Building History

The OH-born architect Arthur Bishop Chamberlin (1865-1933) designed this Pioneer Square building in the Richardsonian Romanesque Style on the former site of John Collins's own residence, which burned in the Great Seattle Fire of 06/06/1889. Writing in 2003, historian Paul Dorpat described the Irish-born magnate, Collins (d. 1903) as: "...an entrepreneurial dynamo, investing in coal, cable cars, gas lighting, tidelands, Yakima Valley irrigation, banking, hotels and books. He was also Seattle's fourth mayor — a rare Catholic Democrat among the city's Protestant Republican ruling class." (See "An Art-full Restoration," Seattle Times, 01/26/2003,Accessed 11/28/2012.) The thrifty landlord Samuel Israel (1899-1994) bought the Collins Block in 1958, and its ownership has continued in his hands (and that of his estate) to the present. After World War II, Israel bought many undervalued properties in Pioneer Square, and essentially mothballed them, thereby allowing them to be rediscovered and gradually renovated in the 1960s and 1970s.

Building Notes

In 1900, Wilson's Modern Business College occupied an upper floor of the Collins Block, as did the Copeland Medical Institute. The architect Edwin Walker Houghton (1856-1927) made his office in the Collins Block between 1899-1917.

In 1900, the retailer Joseph Arthur Baillargeon (born 02/05/1856 in Trois Pistoles, QC,-1936) ran his business, "The Lace House," in a first-floor storefront. Baillargeon, who married John Collins's daughter, Abbie Collins Baillargeon (1866-1895), would later go on to some success as a Seattle retailer, opening the J.A. Baillargeon and Company Store, selling fancy and dry goods and furnishings. He would open a store in its own building at 1100 2nd Avenue in 1908. The Baillargeon Family would become active in the city's artistic and social scene.

The North Coast Casket Company operated in the Collins Block, c. 1972.

PCAD id: 5346