We have a winner for the ninth installment of the Great Seattle Gargoyle Hunt, the most obscure one so far. It’s Issy again, who avers that she does “love love love this kind of visual and historic traipsing around the city”. My three sentiments exactly.
Above is the contest photo, the only clue Issy had to go by. By actually starting at the brown building visible in the background and exploring radially outward, she located her lions along the cornice of the Hotel Cecil at the southwest corner of First and Spring. Well done again, Issy.
The Cecil was one of three buildings on the block — all still present — designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style by Max Umbrecht and built by (James) Clise Investment Co.. The Hotel Cecil and the middle building, the Beebe Building, were both built in 1900-1901 for the capitalist Clifford D. Beebe (whom I keep wanting to call Cecil B. DeMille for obvious reasons). The hotel originally opened as the Waldorf, but upon renovation in 1909 was renamed Cecil after the hotel in London. For a while shortly after that it was called the MacFarland, and in 1921 it was done up again and reopened as the New Arlington, named for its older sibling two blocks north up First Avenue.
I only just recently discovered that the three Umbrecht buildings and the building I work in, the National Building, which sits behind them and faces Western, are all part of a big redevelopment project that took place in the early 1980s and which included the six blocks bounded by First Avenue and Alaskan Way and Madison and Seneca. It was called Waterfront Place, and maybe some people still refer to these blocks that way, but I’d never heard the name until I went to do some research on the Cecil, and apparently pieces of the development have been sold multiple times since it was created (in 1995 Falcon Real Estate Investment Company bought the Waterfront Place Building for $16.5 million, then sold it ten years later to San Francisco-based Spear Street Capital LLC for just shy of $42 million).
The Watermark Tower, which sits kitty-corner across the alley from us on the retained, original base of the 1915 Colman Building, was and is the centerpiece of Waterfront Place, but the project included the restoration of the National, Globe, and Beebe buildings and the Cecil, Colonial and Grand Pacific hotels, and the creation of the monstrous (but I suppose cool and sensible) Waterfront Place Building that blocks our view of Elliott Bay. There was apparently supposed to be another behemoth next to the Waterfront Place Building called the Cornerstone Building, named after the development company behind the whole thing (see photo above), but there is only a parking lot there. I didn’t realize I’d been working for seven years in an urban subdivision (go to this writer’s samples page and click the “Cornerstone Development Company Marketing Brochure”).
I know I’m getting way off topic here but I can’t resist putting up just one more photo, this one shot last July from the National Building’s rooftop looking north past the cream-colored Watermark Tower (at the right edge) and beyond to the Harbor Steps condos and the gleaming new Russell Investments Center. The backsides of the Colonial and the Grand Pacific hotels are the brick affairs low on the right side of the image.
Thanks again for playing, Issy (and for giving me an excuse to put up so many photos and illustrations). You’re the player to beat.