AKA: Colonial Block, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Chapin Building #1, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores

Designers: Boone and Meeker, Architects (firm); William Ely Boone (architect); George Cook Meeker (architect)

Dates: constructed 1888, demolished 1889

2 stories

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2nd Avenue and Columbia Street
Pioneer Square, Seattle, WA 98101

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Columbia Street northeast corner of 2nd Avenue; iMap


When it was erected in 1888, the Colonial Building was a popular business address for lawyers (four had their offices here in that year), architects (2 out of the 6 architects listed in the 1888-1889 Seattle City Directory had offices in the Colonial Block) and at least one accountant, and an artist, O.F. Chapman. It had New England Colonial Revival styling well before it became popular a decade later, because its owner, banker Herman Chapin (b. 1858) was a native of the MA.

Building History

The two-story, wood-frame Colonial Building (aka the "Chapin Building," Ochsner and Andersen, Distant Corner, [University of Washington Press, 2003], p. 335) stood on the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Columbia Street and across the street from the Boston Building on the southeast corner. In 1889, Herman Chapin (b. 1858) was President of the Boston National Bank located in the Boston Block. Born in Brookline, MA, Chapin graduated from Harvard University in 1879, and came to Seattle by 1886, where he began to organize investors to erect several office buildings, including the Boston Building (1887), Colonial Building (1888), Rialto Building (1893), Pythian Building, Hancock Building, Wholesale Building at 2nd Avenue and Jackson Street and a wholesale building at 3rd Avenue and Jackson Street. The last four were built between 1897-1904. He drew on his East Coast connections to help fund his Seattle projects, but he chose to live in Seattle on Queen Anne Hill.

Building Notes

Its Colonial Revival Style ornamentation was quite unusual for its time, and stood out considerably in a city of Italianate business blocks and false-front storefronts. The Colonial Revival became very popular in the US during the later 1890s and early 1900s, making this a cutting-edge example of the style on the West Coast. Its style was important and distincitive enough for the building to be referred to as the "Colonial Block." In Seattle City Directories from 1888, 1890 and 1900, this office building was referred to consistently as the "Colonial Block."


The Colonial Block was probably lost in the Great Fire of 06/06/1889, but rebuilt. It appeared in a list of "Public Buildings and Halls" published in the Polk Seattle Directory Company's Seattle City Directory, 1900, (p. 75).

This second Colonial Block also was razed to make room for the Norton Building in 1956.

PCAD id: 6152