Austin Bell and Barnes Buildings


On First Avenue near Battery Street stand the three brick structures remaining from early Belltown. All were built in 1889-90, just as Pioneer Square was being rebuilt after the great fire of June 1889. The Austin Bell Building (2320 First Avenue), with its dramatic arch, was designed by Elmer Fisher, architect of many Pioneer Square buildings. It was commissioned by William Bell's son, Austin Bell, as an apartment building.

The interior was lost in a fire, and it has been turned into condominiums, preserving the front facade. The adjoining Barnes Building (2326 First Avenue) was constructed as an Odd Fellows Hall and is now apartments. These substantial brick buildings, some distance from Pioneer Square, combined with the area's isolation to give Belltown a distinctive identity separate from that of downtown Seattle.

Listen to a podcast from the Belltown Walking Tour.

First Avenue and Bell to Battery Streets (2.9mb mp3)

Find this building on our walking tour map. (680kb pdf)

Bell and Barnes Buildings, 1942 photo courtesy of MOHAI Webster & Stevens 1983.10.13528
Austin Bell (center) & Barnes Buildings, photo by Mimi Sheridan, 2010

About us

This site is dedicated to the history of Seattle's downtown and waterfront, especially the State Route 99 / Alaskan Way Viaduct corridor. It was developed by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration as an educational resource and as part of a Memorandum of Agreement for Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (pdf 1mb).

Copyright 2011 Washington State Department of Transportation