AKA: Hotel Waldorf, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Waldorf Apartments, Downtown, Seattle, WA

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

Designers: Ryan, Henderson, Architect (firm); Thacker and Mayo, Architects (firm); John Francis Douglas Sr. (developer); Henderson Ryan (architect/building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907, demolished 2000

7 stories

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7th Avenue and Pike Street
Downtown, Seattle , WA 98101

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Building History

Lawyer and developer John F. Douglas (b. 1874) put together the Waldorf Building Company that began work on the Waldorf Hotel in 1905. Construction occurred during 1906-1907, with opening occurring on 03/27/1907. To build the hotel, Douglas headed to the East Coast to solicit capital. To entice New York investors, he named his far-flung Seattle development projects with names familiar and reassuring to them, including the Manhattan Apartments, Waldorf Hotel and the Metropolitan Building Company. (New York's famous 13-story Waldorf Hotel opened in 1893, owned by William Waldorf Astor [1848-1914].) Douglas had attended the Yale Law School and had contacts in the New York legal and financial community. (See Neal O. Hines, Denny's Knoll: A History of the Metropolitan Tract of the University of Washington, [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980], p. 63, 72.) By 08/19/1906, the structural work was done on the Waldorf, as crews of carpenters and concrete workers worked 24 hours a day to finish the building. According to the Seattle Times: "The building has been put up in record time and one unusual feature is the fact that for the past few weeks work has been carried on day and night. The carpenters who have prepared the framework for the concrete have worked in the daytime and the concrete men have done their part at night by electric light, in order that the construction might be accomplished without any delay." The story went on to note that this would be "...the largest apartment house in the city and the equal in all respects of any similar building in the country." At this time, occupancy was set for 11/01/1906. Cost was set at $250,000. (See "The Waldorf Apartment House," Seattle Sunday Times, 08/19/1906, p. 42.)

This was actually the second hotel in Seattle named "the Waldorf." This name acquired cachet in the US following the opening of Henry Hardenbergh's fashionable Waldorf Hotel in New York in 1893. The first Seattle Hotel Waldorf was located in a six-story building on the corner of 1st Avenue and Spring Street (southwest corner). It was called this for a short time after its opening in 1901, before being renamed the "Hotel Cecil."

In 1914, the Hotel Waldorf #2 offered one, two and three-room suites. It referred to itself as the "Hotel Waldorf and Apartments," and J.E. Perry managed it in that year. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1914, p. 925.)

Building Notes

The Waldorf, set on the corner of Pike Street and 7th Avenue, consisted of two towers set parallel to each other separated by a light court. Vertically-stacked bay windows created some sculptural interest on the facades. A large arch marked the main entryway. In 1910-1911, the architect Ulysses Grant Fay (b. 1868) lived in the Waldorf Apartments.


Developer Vance Gribble bought the Waldorf Hotel c. 1969 and renovated it for elderly residents in conjunction with the Federal Housing Authority the following year. Some rehabilitation funds were provided by Section 221 (d) 3 of the National Housing Act. Persons below a certain income threshold could rent here and receive a rental subsidy. Gribble spent approximately $775,000 on the job which transformed 250 rooms into 91 one-bedroom apartments and 36 efficiencies. Baugh Construction worked with the architectural firm of Thacker and Mayo on the 1970 renovation. According to a Seattle Times article: “All wiring and plumbing was torn out and replaced and a seven-story stairway was built between the two towers to meet fire-safety standards. A security intercom system to the main door has been installed in each apartment plus telephone jacks and outlets for television reception.” (See Joan McDonnell, "Downtown Hotel Gets New Lease on Life", Seattle Times, 07/19/1970, p. B3.) The name of the building became the "Waldorf Towers" after 1970.


The Waldorf Hotel was torn down in 2000.

PCAD id: 8614