The Holyoke Building

{Downtown}

The Holyoke Building was already under construction when the fire of 1889 began. Its deep excavation helped stop the fire from proceeding northward, and it was one of the first buildings to open after the fire. When it was completed, it was one of the city's largest buildings. The red brick and rough sandstone facade are typical of Seattle's Romanesque buildings, but the cast-iron columns on the storefronts are relatively unusual in Seattle.

The building is named for Richard Holyoke, who founded the National Bank of Commerce in 1889; the bank later became Rainier National Bank and is now part of the Bank of America. During the 1920s this was a gathering place for artists and musicians, including Nellie Cornish who soon established her own school of the arts that still thrives today.

Listen to a podcast from the Downtown Walking Tour.

First Avenue and Spring Street (923kb mp3)

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

The Holyoke Building, 1900
The Holyoke Building

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