AKA: College Hotel, University District, Seattle, WA; College Inn Hotel, University District, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - commercial buildings

Designers: Graham and Myers, Architects (firm); John Graham Sr. (architect/engineer); David John Myers (architect)

Dates: constructed 1908-1909

4 stories, total floor area: 16,162 sq. ft.

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4000 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105-6209

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Ye College Inn has served travelers for over 100 years and, during that time, has undergone extensive renovations and repairs. It originally was positioned near the front gates of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (AYPE), at 15th Avenue NE and NE 40th Street, and contained only three inhabitable stories and a basement, although an extra floor was added in the attic in 1980. It remains one of the finest and most convincing half-timbered Tudor Revival buildings in the city,

Building History

Property owner J. R. Hendren and developer Charles Cowen (1869-1926) commissioned the up-and-coming Seattle architects, John Graham and David J. Myers, to design Ye College Inn to house visitors to the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition; Cowen, born in South Africa, came to Seattle in 1900. A few years after arriving, he laid out the University Park Addition, a residential tract of 40 acres north of the University of Washington Campus, within which he carved space for a 12-acre park, which the city named Woodland Park. Hendren owned the property while the exposition was on, but Cowen bought it from him afterwards in 10/1909. By World War I, the College Hotel Company owned the building and by 1924, another real estate holding company, the Interstate Investment Company, controlled the property. Over the years, the College Inn's upper floors contained hotel or long-term rental rooms and the first floor housed restaurants, ice cream parlors and sweets shops.

Since the beginning, the inn's main entrance has faced 40th Avenue NE, although an entry lobby faced University Way NE in 1937. At this time, the building contained 5 storefronts and 28 one-room apartments. In 1958, Rusty Rosling and Jack Behar led an ownership group that renovated the inn's upper guest rooms; they gutted existing partitions separating the 30 guest rooms and reconfigured the space to accommodate 14 rooms, each with a bath. This remodeled version of the College Inn opened in 12/1960. In 2009, the hotel had 27 rooms without individual baths, featuring instead men's and women's shower and bath facilities on each floor. In addition, a remodeled attic contained the main office, a breakfast room and lounge.

Building Notes

Ye College Inn, a four-story (with a basement), half-timbered building, housed a 27-room hotel, two cafes, a bar and a convenience store in 2005; the building was built of masonry and had forced air heating.


Over the years, many retail businesses have occupied storefronts on the first floor, including the Werner's bakery and restaurant, an ice cream store, a beauty parlor and various sandwich, ice cream and sweets shops. The upper two floors of rooms were remodeled into student apartments between 1958-1960; in 1979, plans to transform the building back into a hotel began with work completed on 06/01/1980.

Richard Burnett, a graduate student at the UW, and Ronald Bozarth originally leased space in the basement of Ye College Inn c. 1972 to create a new pub. This effort, which took one-and-a-half years of lobbying city government to change a local ordinance banning liqour within a two-mile radius of the University of Washington, finally was achieved with the assistance of a local land-use attorney. Dotty DeCoster, writing for HistoryLink.org, summarized Burnett and Bozarth's renovation activities during the 1970s: "They began to make repairs and changes. In 1973 the eastern half of the basement was finished and the resulting basement space became the College Inn Pub. (Previously, Ye College Inn Grill had occupied the western below-grade space.) " During the later 1970s, Burnett and Bozarth exercised an option to buy the whole property from the Alhadeff Family. They then set about restoring the building into a hotel. "They renovated the store spaces, relocated the entrances, and began to uncover the original walls, doors, and flooring. Then they tackled the apartments." (See Dotty DeCoster, HistoryLink.org, "Ye College Inn (University District, Seattle)," accessed 12/22/2016.) The 1958-1960 remodeling of the original guest rooms was reversed during this 1980 renovation. Old galvanized plumbing was torn out and new fire doors, faced in wood and retaining an Arts and Crafts appearance, were custom-ordered for each new guest room. Sleeping chambers no longer contained private baths, and single men's and women's rest rooms were placed on the second and third floors. Burnett and Bozarth also created new fourth-floor space in the building's previously empty attic. Prior to this renovation, the attic had exposed rafters and floor joists, but they installed new flooring and sheet rock to create a ceiling. On this level, they fashioned a breakfast room and caretaker's quarters underneath a steeply-pitched gable roof.

In 1997, Burnett and Bozarth hired a skilled plaster craftsman from Spokane to undertake a complete resurfacing of the exterior, including the half-timbered elements. Some plaster on the bottom section of a front oriel window gave way in the mid-2000s, but this was quickly repaired.

in 2009, Cafe Allegro, a fixture on the corner of NE 40th Street and University Way NE, closed, and the Banana Leaf Thai Restaurant moved in. The Banana Leaf Cafe closed due to a failure to pay taxes, and another Thai-Vietnamese restaurant replaced it.