AKA: Down Town Hotel Apartments, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA; Downtowner Apartments, Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Gould and Champney, Architects (firm); Édouard Frère Champney (architect); Augustus Warren Gould (architect)

Dates: constructed 1910-1911

9 stories

Seattle, WA

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Developer Robert C. McCormick commissioned the Seattle architectural firm of Augustus Warren Gould (1872-1922) and Edouard Frere Champney (1874-1929) to design this nine-story hotel with a huge cornice, modern plumbing and fireproofing and Chicago windows. It began operations in 1911, just after the opening of the nearby King Street and Union Railroad Depots. The New Richmond, located at 501 1/2 South Main Street, contained 325 rooms, most with baths, serving mainly tourists and new arrivals in competition with Bebb and Mendel's nearby Louisa C. Frye Hotel (1911) at 223 Yesler Way. The New Richmond aimed at a wealthier, white clientele, compared to other neighboring hotels catering to working class and Asian-American customers. Gould and Champney sued McCormick and his wife for recovery of the firm's full fee after it was dismissed early in the construction supervision process. According to the case summary, they entered into a contract with the McCormicks on 08/04/1909; construction cost for the New Richmond Hotel was approximately $325,000. On or about 08/18/1910, McCormick dismissed the architects when construction had been about one-third completed, and finished the New Richmond without engaging any other architects. Gould and Champney initiated their law suit on 12/23/1910. The Supreme Court of WA upheld Gould and Champney's claim to compensation of about $6,750, holding that there was no "reasonable ground for their dismissal" and the architects had a right to fulfill the terms of their contract (and expect full remuneration) because there was no evidence of their "wrong-doing or incompetency." (See "Gould et al., v. McCormick et ux., Supreme Court of Washington, 08/19/1913," The Pacific Reporter, Vol. 134, p. 676-680) Like the Frye Hotel, the New Richmond was taken over by the military during World War II; the US Army transformed the facility into a hospital and housing for military families. Pioneer Square became a mostly deserted land of skid-row saloons and flophouses by the 1960s, and the New Richmond, by then called the "Down Town Hotel Apartments," served a sparse, low-income clientele. Developers Martin and Howard Selig bought the building and created low-cost FHA-financed apartments, lowering the number of units from the original 325 to about 240.

In 1935, a long vertical "blade" sign reading "New Richmond Hotel," hung outside the building's front facade between the second and fourth floors. The hotel occupied Lots 1 and 2, Block 28 of Maynard's Addition in Pioneer Square.

Due to damage suffered in the 1949 Seattle Earthquake, the New Richmond's balustraded parapet was removed. A number of architectural features on other Pioneer Square buildings were taken off (or fell off) after this strong temblor.

PCAD id: 5580