First Avenue was once lined with brick buildings like this one, which opened exactly one year after the Great Fire of 1889. The curved bay windows at the corner were unusual in Seattle after the fire, as the new building code discouraged such features.
The ground floor has an arched corner entry of rough sandstone and storefronts with cast iron columns. The original owner, Leonard Diller, was a prominent businessman and experienced hotel operator whose previous hotel was destroyed in the fire. This business was unprofitable at first, perhaps because of its distance from Pioneer Square.
However, with the 1897 gold rush it became a headquarters for many leading miners. The hotel was operated by the Diller family for decades; it has since been converted to apartments and is still in their ownership.
To learn more about this building, visit the City of Seattle's historical sites page.
First Avenue and University Street (983kb mp3)
Find this building on our walking tour map. (680kb pdf)
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