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Archive for the ‘Chinatown-International District’ Category

The Louisa Hotel: 2020 Community Investment Award

Congratulations to the Louisa Hotel Project Team!

Owners: Yuen G Woo LLC (Woo family), Gaard Development
Partners: Chase Community Equity; First Federal; Barrientos Ryan; Rolluda Architects; DCI Engineering; Marpac Construction; Chinn Construction; Gemma Daggatt Interior Design; Northwest Vernacular

About the project:

The Louisa Hotel, a contributing building to the Seattle Chinatown National Register Historic District and the International Special Review District, was built in 1909 as a single occupancy (SRO) hotel with ground floor retail. Designed by Andrew Willatsen and Barry Byrne, disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright who worked in his Chicago studio at the turn of the century, the hotel first housed Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants while they waited for work in Alaskan canneries.

The building was once home to a casino, a jazz club, and Seattle’s first Chinese bakery – but this history was threatened by both the passing of time and by disaster.

The Louisa Hotel’s top floors were vacant for over 50 years. It had been too expensive to bring them up to code, as is the case with many buildings in the Chinatown-International District. On Christmas Eve in 2013, a fire broke out which burned the roof and compromised the western half of the building. With the mortar in the brick damaged

by the fire, the unreinforced masonry wall along Maynard Alley was in danger of collapse and became a threat to public safety. Furthermore, some of the building’s interior had collapsed onto itself.

The restoration project began by stabilizing, demolishing, rebuilding, and replicating the fire-damaged western side of the building. Just stabilizing the building took two years. The team then worked to preserve the Louisa Hotel’s façade and extensively renovate the eastern half of the building.

The restoration complied with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The team preserved the feel of the hallways by removing, refinishing, and reinstalling the historic doors, which still carry the shadow of their original unit numbers. The team paid close attention to detail when restoring the building’s character-defining features, such as the original wood trim, picture rails, leaded glass windows, and bay windows.

Notably, Prohibition era murals from the jazz club (shown here) were also discovered and restored. Furniture and other artifacts salvaged from the Louisa Hotel before demolition have been returned and put on display.

But the building is more than just brick and mortar. True to its origin as affordable workforce housing, the Louisa Hotel reopened with 84 units of affordable workforce housing for individuals and families earning between $35,000 and $80,000 per year. In June of 2019, the building opened its doors to new residents for the first time in over 50 years – and not a moment too soon.

We are proud to recognize the Woo family and Gaard Development with the Community Investment Award for their restoration of the Chinatown-International District’s historic Louisa Hotel.

The Louisa Hotel: 2020 Community Investment Award

Congratulations to the Louisa Hotel Project Team!

Owners: Yuen G Woo LLC (Woo family), Gaard Development
Partners: Chase Community Equity; First Federal; Barrientos Ryan; Rolluda Architects; DCI Engineering; Marpac Construction; Chinn Construction; Gemma Daggatt Interior Design; Northwest Vernacular

About the project:

The Louisa Hotel, a contributing building to the Seattle Chinatown National Register Historic District and the International Special Review District, was built in 1909 as a single occupancy (SRO) hotel with ground floor retail. Designed by Andrew Willatsen and Barry Byrne, disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright who worked in his Chicago studio at the turn of the century, the hotel first housed Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants while they waited for work in Alaskan canneries.

The building was once home to a casino, a jazz club, and Seattle’s first Chinese bakery – but this history was threatened by both the passing of time and by disaster.

The Louisa Hotel’s top floors were vacant for over 50 years. It had been too expensive to bring them up to code, as is the case with many buildings in the Chinatown-International District. On Christmas Eve in 2013, a fire broke out which burned the roof and compromised the western half of the building. With the mortar in the brick damaged

by the fire, the unreinforced masonry wall along Maynard Alley was in danger of collapse and became a threat to public safety. Furthermore, some of the building’s interior had collapsed onto itself.

The restoration project began by stabilizing, demolishing, rebuilding, and replicating the fire-damaged western side of the building. Just stabilizing the building took two years. The team then worked to preserve the Louisa Hotel’s façade and extensively renovate the eastern half of the building.

The restoration complied with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The team preserved the feel of the hallways by removing, refinishing, and reinstalling the historic doors, which still carry the shadow of their original unit numbers. The team paid close attention to detail when restoring the building’s character-defining features, such as the original wood trim, picture rails, leaded glass windows, and bay windows.

Notably, Prohibition era murals from the jazz club (shown here) were also discovered and restored. Furniture and other artifacts salvaged from the Louisa Hotel before demolition have been returned and put on display.

But the building is more than just brick and mortar. True to its origin as affordable workforce housing, the Louisa Hotel reopened with 84 units of affordable workforce housing for individuals and families earning between $35,000 and $80,000 per year. In June of 2019, the building opened its doors to new residents for the first time in over 50 years – and not a moment too soon.

We are proud to recognize the Woo family and Gaard Development with the Community Investment Award for their restoration of the Chinatown-International District’s historic Louisa Hotel.

The Louisa Hotel: 2020 Community Investment Award

Congratulations to the Louisa Hotel Project Team!

Owners: Yuen G Woo LLC (Woo family), Gaard Development
Partners: Chase Community Equity; First Federal; Barrientos Ryan; Rolluda Architects; DCI Engineering; Marpac Construction; Chinn Construction; Gemma Daggatt Interior Design; Northwest Vernacular

About the project:

The Louisa Hotel, a contributing building to the Seattle Chinatown National Register Historic District and the International Special Review District, was built in 1909 as a single occupancy (SRO) hotel with ground floor retail. Designed by Andrew Willatsen and Barry Byrne, disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright who worked in his Chicago studio at the turn of the century, the hotel first housed Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrants while they waited for work in Alaskan canneries.

The building was once home to a casino, a jazz club, and Seattle’s first Chinese bakery – but this history was threatened by both the passing of time and by disaster.

The Louisa Hotel’s top floors were vacant for over 50 years. It had been too expensive to bring them up to code, as is the case with many buildings in the Chinatown-International District. On Christmas Eve in 2013, a fire broke out which burned the roof and compromised the western half of the building. With the mortar in the brick damaged

by the fire, the unreinforced masonry wall along Maynard Alley was in danger of collapse and became a threat to public safety. Furthermore, some of the building’s interior had collapsed onto itself.

The restoration project began by stabilizing, demolishing, rebuilding, and replicating the fire-damaged western side of the building. Just stabilizing the building took two years. The team then worked to preserve the Louisa Hotel’s façade and extensively renovate the eastern half of the building.

The restoration complied with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. The team preserved the feel of the hallways by removing, refinishing, and reinstalling the historic doors, which still carry the shadow of their original unit numbers. The team paid close attention to detail when restoring the building’s character-defining features, such as the original wood trim, picture rails, leaded glass windows, and bay windows.

Notably, Prohibition era murals from the jazz club (shown here) were also discovered and restored. Furniture and other artifacts salvaged from the Louisa Hotel before demolition have been returned and put on display.

But the building is more than just brick and mortar. True to its origin as affordable workforce housing, the Louisa Hotel reopened with 84 units of affordable workforce housing for individuals and families earning between $35,000 and $80,000 per year. In June of 2019, the building opened its doors to new residents for the first time in over 50 years – and not a moment too soon.

We are proud to recognize the Woo family and Gaard Development with the Community Investment Award for their restoration of the Chinatown-International District’s historic Louisa Hotel.

Checking In with Friends of Little Saigon

Last September, we presented Friends of Little Saigon (FLS) with the Community Advocacy Award at our annual Preservation Celebration Benefit, recognizing their work preserving and enhancing Little Saigon’s cultural, economic, and historic vitality. For the first time ever, this award included a $3,000 prize which FLS intended to use to help advance their mission by building out and opening the Little Saigon Cultural Gathering Space. Like so many others these days, FLS’s plans have shifted because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, their work to support, strengthen, and preserve culture and community is as robust as ever. We checked in with Valerie Tran, a member of Friends of Little Saigon’s leadership team, for her take on how the pandemic is impacting the Chinatown-International District (CID) community and what FLS is doing in response to those challenges.

One such response has been establishing the CID Restaurants and Other Small Businesses Relief Fund. In late March, a $100,000 seed gift from Vulcan enabled FLS, the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), and the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA) to come together to provide much-needed financial relief to neighborhood restaurants and small businesses.

“By March, the neighborhood had already suffered effects of the pandemic for a long time,” explained Valerie. “As early as late January/early February, the spread of misinformation and racism had caused many people to feel afraid to visit Asian and Chinese restaurants and businesses.” To date, the emergency relief fund has raised over $300,000 in donations, and over 87 neighborhood restaurants have received critical funding through the program’s first wave of distributions. Currently, 130 non-restaurant businesses are being evaluated for the next wave of distributions, which is expected to take place in May.

There are many unique challenges in responding to the crisis and managing the relief fund. “Many of our community’s small businesses don’t have a history of engaging with us through mediums like email, websites, and social media,” Valerie said. Interactions in the community more often occur face-to-face, which proves difficult when people are in isolation and businesses are shuttered. “There is also a lot of skepticism because of scams that are targeting small business owners,” she added.

“Language has also been a challenge. In the beginning there was a flurry of information coming from the city, state, and federal governments. Information was coming quickly, but many in the neighborhood were getting the information 4-7 days later because of the time it takes to simplify, translate, and redistribute information. In some cases, we’ve brought information out to the community in hard copy. We’ve been doing a lot of advocacy to the state and city, urging them to provide translated information at the same time that it’s delivered in English,” Valerie noted. “It’s so important to provide consistent information about legitimate sources of assistance in a timely manner.”

About the role community has in responding to the crisis, Valerie said, “COVID-19 has had some positive effects in the way the community has come together to respond. Throughout history, Asian American and Pacific Islander groups have been pitted against each other. This leads to finger pointing and debate over which ethnic group is more oppressed. Now people are coming together, people are stepping up, and community groups are partnering like never before to provide financial relief, wellness checks, groceries, and meals to people in need. We’ve got to be in this together.”

In addition to her role as Operations Director at FLS, Valerie Tran previously served on the boards of FLS and the International Special Review District. She also currently serves on Historic Seattle’s Council and understands the value of preservation. “This COVID-19 response work is important for cultural preservation. If these businesses and cultural institutions can’t reopen, this will be a huge loss to the cultural fabric of the city and the communities that rely on them,” she said. “This is why this work is critical. We can sometimes take our cultural businesses and places for granted, but the crisis brings to light the importance of community preservation, and that our work must go beyond physical and architectural preservation.”

Valerie Tran (second from the left) with members of Friends of Little Saigon

While the opening of the Little Saigon Cultural Gathering Space is delayed as a result of the recent construction moratorium, space has been leased and will include a small business resource center, office space, a Vietnamese café, a library, and an art exhibit space. Earlier this year, FLS launched a call to artists and selections were made for what will be the art space’s inaugural exhibit. “Owning It” will feature several visual and 3D artworks by Vietnamese American artists.

It has been just three years since Friends of Little Saigon brought on its first paid staff member, executive director Quynh Pham. Prior to her arrival, FLS had been an all-volunteer group since its founding in 2011. “The progress that has been made toward our mission is a testament to Quynh’s ability to implement the volunteer board’s vision,” said Valerie. Historic Seattle joins Valerie in commending her colleague and the ongoing achievements of FLS.

Preserving a National Historic Landmark in Seattle’s Japantown: The Panama Hotel

Historic Seattle, in collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is working with Panama Hotel owner and steward, Jan Johnson, to develop a long-term plan that preserves this rare National Historic Landmark (NHL) for the future and improves community access and interpretation. In addition to being a National Historic Landmark, the Panama Hotel is a contributing resource to the International Special Review District and Seattle-Chinatown National Register Historic District.

Located on the southeast corner of Sixth Ave S. and S. Main St. in Seattle’s Japantown (Nihonmachi) within the International District, the Panama Hotel is nationally significant for its association with the historical theme, “Japanese immigration to the United States,” and also significant as a building type that is exceptionally valuable for the study of the earliest generation of Japanese immigrants in the United States. Built in 1910, the Panama Hotel was designed by Sabro Ozasa, the first Japanese architect to practice in Seattle. Along with hotel rooms, the Panama Hotel also contained the traditional Japanese bathhouse or sento (located in the basement). The bathhouse in the Panama Hotel is the most outstanding representative example of an urban bathhouse in the country (only two remain) and possesses an extraordinarily high degree of integrity.

When owner Jan Johnson purchased the property in 1986 from Takashi Hori, owner of the building from 1938 to 1986, she also became the caretaker of Japanese American artifacts that had been left in the basement of the Panama since World War II. In 1942, many Nikkei were forced to evacuate their homes for World War II internment camps. They packed their personal belongings in large trunks and stashed them in the basement of the hotel. Many of these items remain in place as part of the building’s history and legacy to the city and the nation.

We are engaged in preserving the Panama Hotel through short-term and long-term activities. We began preparing a Historic Structures Report (HSR) and as-built drawings for the building in summer 2013, retaining the services of Artifacts Consulting, Inc. of Tacoma for the HSR and architect Brian Baker, a Historic Seattle volunteer, for the drawings. The HSR was completed in April 2014 and provides the foundation for our efforts to preserve the building, its spaces and collections. As the primary work plan and guide on treatment, the HSR prioritizes work to address immediate conservation needs, as well as mid and long-term needs to allow the owner to effectively plan for capital projects. Historic Seattle secured grant funds for the HSR project from 4Culture’s Preservation Special Projects Fund and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Eldridge Campbell Stockton Memorial Fund for Washington. We are grateful to these two organizations for their support.

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Louisa Hotel Update: After the Fire

View of the north and west facades of the historic Louisa Building in the Chinatown-International District. A Christmas Eve 2013 fire burned the western half of the building.

View of the north and west facades of the historic Louisa Building in the Chinatown-International District. A Christmas Eve 2013 fire burned the western half of the building.

MAin2 has been following the Louisa Hotel’s status after the western half of the building burned in a fire on December 24, 2013. This historic Chinatown-International District building, built in 1909, housed some of the neighborhood’s longest operating businesses including Mon Hei Bakery and Sea Garden Restaurant. All businesses have remained closed since the fire.

Here’s a Louisa Building FAQ from the property owner.

The Seattle Weekly’s current issue (March 19-25, 2014) features a an excellent cover story on the building and the neighborhood.

Here’s a building update from the City of Seattle (sent to community members on March 7, 2014):

We write to you today to provide an update on the status of the fire-damaged Louisa Hotel building located at 669 South King Street.  There has been some information in the news as of late, which we wanted to clarify.  As of March 5, the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) began reviewing a permit application to stabilize the existing building to remove safety concerns for neighboring tenants and the public.  The proposal requires removal of the west wall on Maynard Alley, which was most severely damaged by the fire.  The remaining portions of the building will be braced and stabilized until future renovations can occur.  There are no plans to demolish the entire building at this time.

Both the City and the property owners are motivated to act quickly and preserve as much of the existing building as possible.  A permit will be issued shortly, which could allow work to begin by late-March.  Once the building is fully stabilized, it will allow private engineers to further evaluate the structure and help us determine the appropriate next steps regarding future redevelopment.  Attached is a fact sheet prepared by the owners of the building which provides answers to common questions and contact information for the community.

If you have questions about the status of the permit, please feel free to contact Bryan Stevens of the Department of Planning and Development. He can be reached at bryan.stevens@seattle.gov or 206-684-5045.

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