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Seattle Landmarks: Chelsea Apartments (1907)
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Address: 620 W Olympic Place, Seattle. With the completion of the street car line to Queen Anne Hill, the neighborhood became a popular residential area. Charles Russell Collins was general manager of the Seattle Gas and Electric Co., chairman of the board for the YMCA, and treasurer for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. He commissioned a family hotel and apartment building near the entrance to Kinnear Park. The architect was Harlan Thomas (1870-1953).
Architect Harlan Thomas (Queen Anne Public Library, Sorrento Hotel, Corner Market) was the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Washington, 1926-1940. The Chelsea Apartments building followed the English-Renaissance style and represented the life style of the upper middle class of the time. One hundred bedrooms in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-room suites each had a bathroom. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported in the Realty Section in 1907, "The general arrangement is adaptable to musicals, receptions and other social functions. The hardwood oak floors provide a good dancing surface." Meals were advertised as "of the best, of wide variety, under the direction of an excellent chef" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). On the roof was a garden with views of Puget Sound, a pergola, palm trees, and arbors.
In 1913, a Montessori kindergarten for residents was opened in the building. The Chelsea served as a hotel until 1917 when all the units became apartments.
In 1978, Stephen R. Yarnall purchased the building for $475,000 and planned to spend $600,000 renovating it to 55 apartments. The building was made a Seattle Landmark on October 23, 1978.
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Landmarks Preservation Board, 700 Third Avenue, 4th Floor, Seattle, Washington;
Lawrence Kreisman, Made to Last: Historic Preservation in Seattle and King County, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1999), 55.
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