Fairmont Olympic Hotel (Seattle)

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Fairmont Olympic Hotel
Seattle - Olympic Hotel pano.jpg
Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle
Hotel chain Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
General information
Location United States
Address 411 University Street Seattle, Washington 98101
Opening December 6, 1924
Owner Legacy Hotels Real Estate Investment Trust
Management Fairmont Raffles Hotels International
Height 168 feet (51 m)
Technical details
Floor count 14
Design and construction
Architect Bebb and Gould
Other information
Number of rooms 450
Number of restaurants 3


Olympic Hotel
Architectural style Italian Renaissance
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 79002538
Added to NRHP June 15, 1979

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, originally The Olympic Hotel, is an historic luxury hotel in downtown Seattle, Washington near Pike Place Market. It was built on the original site of the University of Washington's first campus.[2] The hotel opened in 1924, and in 1979, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.[3]


After World War I, Seattle's Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to work toward the goal of bringing a world-class hotel to the city. The committee identified an undeveloped portion of the city's Metropolitan Tract, a downtown area covering four blocks, as an ideal location for a new hotel. The Tract was also known as "Denny's Knoll", after Arthur A. Denny, one of Seattle's founders, who had donated the land for the Territorial University, which would later become the University of Washington.[4]

The university had relocated to a campus north of Portage Bay in 1895, but still owned the downtown tract of land. The university's Board of Regents leased the land to the Metropolitan Building Company in 1904, with the agreement that it would be developed in trust for the university for the next 50 years.[4]

The Seattle Times held a contest to name the hotel. From 3,906 entries, the committee chose The Olympic.[4]

In 1922, once the lease had gone into effect, Seattle architects Bebb and Gould—a partnership between Charles Bebb and Carl Gould—were hired to design the hotel. Bebb and Gould created an Italian Renaissance design that was popular at the time, and this design remains one of the building's hallmarks today.[5]

Olympic Hotel, circa 1925

Builders broke ground on April 1, 1923, and construction began. The steel frame was started in January 1924, and by November, the building was completed. The total cost for construction was $5,500,000, with $800,000 going to furnishings alone.[4]

The Olympic Hotel's grand opening took place on December 6, 1924, with a grand dinner and dance attended by more than 2,000 Seattle residents and their guests. Hundreds more people lined the streets just to catch a glimpse of the new hotel.[2]

In 1953, the University of Washington's Board of Regents extended the hotel's lease. At the same time, they approved a plan to demolish the Metropolitan Theatre, around which The Olympic Hotel had been built. The theatre had been a Seattle institution since it opened on October 2, 1911. The theatre's last night was December 4, 1954, hosting a performance of What Every Woman Knows starring Helen Hayes. The theatre was torn down, and a new entrance to the hotel was built in its place.[4][6]

Changes in ownership[edit]

In 1955, Western Hotels (now Westin Hotels) bought The Olympic Hotel.[2] That company managed it until 1980, when it was purchased by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.[7]

In 2003, Four Seasons sold The Olympic Hotel to Legacy Hotels, who turned management of the property over to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. At that time, the hotel was renamed Fairmont Olympic Hotel.[8]


  1. ^ Fairmont Olympic Hotel (Seattle) at Emporis
  2. ^ a b c "Fairmont Olympic Hotel". Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "What is the design style of Fairmont Olympic Hotel?". Forbes Travel Guide. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "No Finer Site". University of Washington Libraries. University of Washington. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Holt, Gordy (30 August 2005). "By any name, the one-time Olympic Hotel endures". Hearst Seattle Media, LLC. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Dunphy, Stephen H.; Timmerman, Luke (4 July 2003). "Seattle's 5-star hotel losing Four Seasons connection". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 

Coordinates: 47°36′29″N 122°20′04″W / 47.608011°N 122.334548°W / 47.608011; -122.334548