Samuel Rosenberg, a Seattle clothing merchant invested in The Sorrento in preparation for the crowds expected to arrive in the city for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific exposition. He hired architect Harlan Thomas in 1907-08 for its design. He convinced Rosenberg that Seattle’s topography and the view of the harbor recalled the Italian coast, and that the new hotel should be Italian Renaissance in design and be named Sorrento. So that visitors could appreciate the full sweep of the view, Thomas put the dining room on the top floor—a first for a hotel in the city. Rosenberg was less convinced when Thomas suggested that a large part of the property be made into a courtyard reminiscent of an Italian garden instead of accommodating more guest rooms. However he finally gave in. The patterned brick and terra cotta building opened for business in the spring of 1909 to attract sophisticated travelers and well-heeled residents. Initially, it benefited from the closure of the Hotel Perry down the street and the relocation of some of its residents. During its years as a residential and tourist hotel, the Sorrento catered to a number of important guests, especially concert artists and stage stars appearing at the Moore and the Metropolitan theatres.
Michael Malone, owner and 2011 Historic Seattle Preservation Award recipient, talks about the hotel’s refurbishment into a luxury hotel under his stewardship and the value of preserving vestiges of Seattle’s past. Members see some guest rooms and enjoy the Honduras mahogany paneled Fireside Lounge, with its wonderful Rookwood commissioned Italian garden tile relief.
Photo: Sorrento Hotel / Source: Sorrento Hotel