It’s hard to slip a hotel gargoyle past Pedro, so familiar is he with Seattle’s hostelry, and this gargoyle and its twin adorn the Fourth Avenue entrance of the Olympic Hotel, as Pedro has correctly claimed.
Of course, it’s not called the Olympic anymore, but that’s what it opened as in 1924 on the site of the original University of Washington. I believe the University still owns the land underneath. HistoryLink.org has a great piece on “the grande dame of Seattle hotels” so I won’t repeat it all here, but one interesting thing I would point out is that the reason the hotel is shaped the way it is, with two large wings embracing a deep recess on the University Street side, is that it was built around the old (1911) Metropolitan Theater. Together they looked like a great Dane holding a chew toy between its paws. When that older, smaller building was demolished, voila! the drive-up entrance to the hotel was created. My guess is that this belioned entrance on Fourth was the main entrance until then. If you know, please tell us.
I have only a little personal history with this building. My folks came down here once or twice to participate in an annual Viennese Waltz Ball. They loved to get dressed up and go dancing, and they splurged a time or two to be numbered among the hotel’s overnight guests, which include a president (John F. Kennedy), a King (Elvis), a Duke (John Wayne), Joan Crawford (Joan Crawford), a crown prince and princess (Akhito and Michiko of Japan) a boss (Jimmy Hoffa) and an emperor (Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, who visited in 1954).
There’s a room in the hotel that gets decked out with teddy bears of all sizes and styles every year during Christmas, and ever since Mara and her friend Gwyneth were three or four we’ve taken them there to flop around in the Teddy Bear Suite and read teddy bear books. In time, Gwynnie’s little brother Coren was introduced to this tradition, as more recently was our own wee thing Millie. We usually go downtown and eat dinner, hit the TBS, and then take a spin on the carousel that comes to Westlake Park for the holidays.
I’ll leave you with one other photo I took showing the flagpole bases at closer range. Congratulations again, Pedro, and thanks for playing!