William E. Boone

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William E. Boone
BornSeptember 3, 1830
DiedOctober 29, 1921(1921-10-29) (aged 91)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.

William Boone (3 September 1830, in Pennsylvania – 29 October 1921, in Seattle, Washington) was an American architect who practiced mainly in Seattle, Washington from 1882 until 1905. He was one of the founders of the Washington State chapter of the American Institute of Architects as well as its first president.[1] For the majority of the 1880s, he practiced with George Meeker as Boone and Meeker, Seattle's leading architectural firm at the time. In his later years he briefly worked with William H. Willcox as Boone and Willcox and later with James Corner as Boone and Corner. Boone was one of Seattle's most prominent pre-fire architects whose career lasted into the early 20th century outlasting many of his peers. Few of his buildings remain standing today, many were destroyed in the Great Seattle fire including one of his most well known commissions, the Yesler – Leary Building. He also designed a house for Henry Yesler as well as many of Seattle's earliest brick buildings, some still standing in the Pioneer Square district.

Early life[edit]

William E. Boone was born in Pennsylvania on September 3, 1830 and was raised there.[2] He moved to Chicago as a young man and worked in construction as a carpenter for a railroad company before becoming involved with building design in Minneapolis around 1853. In 1859 he relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area where he resided for twenty years as a builder-contractor. He first visited the Puget Sound region in 1870 where he appears in the 1870 United States Census as residing in Olympia, Washington.[3] While there he designed several small structures in and around that city and oversaw the design and construction of the federal prison at nearby McNeil Island, Washington.[4]

Seattle, Boone and Meeker[edit]

He returned to Seattle permanently in 1881 where he worked between there and Tacoma. In 1883, he formed the partnership of Boone and Meeker with George Meeker of Oakland, California, who is thought to have remained in Oakland for the majority of their partnership.[4] In Seattle, Boone designed mostly commercial buildings, being responsible for most of the city's earliest brick buildings.

Yesler-Leary Building from the intersection of 1st Ave. and Yesler Way in a photograph by Theodore Peiser

In 1883, his design was chosen for Henry Yesler and John Leary's business block at the corner of Front (First) Street and Mill (Yesler) Street. The design, based on San Francisco's original Phelan Block (1878–1881, destroyed) featured high Italianate and Second Empire detail and a prominent octagonal turret. It was described by local newspapers as Seattle's "finest building and symbolic of the city's new metropolitan character." Boone and Meeker located their offices in the new building where they remained until the fire. Boone planned a four-story addition to the Yesler – Leary Building but as Seattle's first building boom began to wind down in 1884, these plans were shelved.[5][6] The building was eventually built by Boone in 1888 but only at three floors and in a more subtle style.

Schwabacher Building (1883, Destroyed)

At the same time as the Yesler – Leary Building, Boone was also preparing plans for a new residence for Henry Yesler. Completed in 1884, it was categorized as Eastlake style but combined elements of Victorian, Queen Anne and Eastlake. The home occupied an entire city block and was Seattle's largest home at the time. During 1884, Boone and Meeker shifted their focus to Tacoma, which had recently been selected as Northern Pacific Railway's West Coast terminus over Seattle, prompting a building boom there while Seattle's waned. There they designed the Annie Wright School and several other commercial and residential structures.[6]

By 1887, Seattle's economy began to rebound and construction activity was picking back up. Boone and Meeker resumed their position as the city's leading architectural office with several large commercial projects. By the late 1880s, architectural trends in the Northwest were catching up with the east coast, moving away from the highly decorated Italianate buildings clad in stucco and cast iron and more towards rusticated stone and exposed brick. This was reflected in one of the firm's first projects of 1887, the Toklas & Singerman Building at the Southwest corner of First and Columbia Streets.[7] The following year, Boone oversaw the construction of one of Seattle's first modern office buildings, the Boston Block at Second and Columbia. Massive in size and practically unadorned, it reflected the influence of the Chicago School on Boone. The Boston Block housed the city's first passenger elevator and was one of the very few buildings in downtown to survive the great fire in 1889.[8] In 1888 the firm submitted two different designs in a bid for Seattle's first two brick school houses. The school district wound up choosing both.[9] Boone and Meekers first buildings in 1889 included the Ramona Hotel at 1st and Seneca Street (now demolished) and the I.O.O.F. Building in Belltown, one of his earliest surviving designs.[8]

Post-fire years[edit]

Following the destruction of his offices in the Yesler – Leary Building in the Great Seattle Fire, Boone moved the firm's offices into the Boston Block that was largely undamaged. By 1890, Boone was entering his 60's and his designs were becoming dated.[10] His partnership with Meeker was dissolved in 1889 and he was once again a solo architect.

The building boom following the great Seattle fire attractED many younger architects with fresh ideas such as Elmer Fisher to the area who soon replaced Boone as Seattle's top architect. Boone was still a respected architect in the city and continued to work, designing such buildings as the Marshall – Walker Building (a.k.a. the Globe Building) in Pioneer Square and the massive New York and Occidental Buildings, both which were replaced by the Dexter Horton Building in 1922.[11][12] The New York Block was credited to the short-lived firm of Boone and William Willcox from 1891 to 1892 but the design is largely credited to Boone.[13] Boone moved his offices into the New York Block following its completion. These later buildings displayed a more simplified design along the lines of Romanesque Revival architecture that emerged in the late 1880s, shaped by the influence of Henry Hobson Richardson, as well as Burnham and Root and other architects of the Chicago School, much in contrast to most of Boone's previous work and architectural knowledge.[14] Boone and Willcox were also architects of the Plymouth Congregational Church, a building that reflected Willcox's previous experience in church design in the American Midwest.[15]

In 1891, Boone and Willcox were selected to plan the new campus for the University of Washington. The plan that included 16 buildings was halted after ten days of construction as a result of flaws in the legislation that created the university. Boone and Willcox dissolved their partnership in June 1892 and when construction resumed on the university in 1893, the firm's plans were dropped in favor of a competition for a single main building won by Charles Saunders.[16]

Late career and death[edit]

Boone, as well as most architects during the time, had little work in the years following the Panic of 1893 and effectively retired, putting his focus on matters of the Seattle Chamber of commerce, of which he was a member. It appears he only designed several small residences and one commercial building during this time.[1] In 1894, he helped instigate the Washington State chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), laying the foundation for the architecture profession in Washington. Boone was elected the chapter's first president. In 1900, with the economy in full rebound, he formed a new partnership with James Corner, who had formerly worked with Warren Skillings. Together they designed several large warehouses that still stand in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. One of their biggest projects and one of Boone's last was the stone Seattle High School (later known as Broadway High School) in 1902 and 1903. After 1905 Boone reduced his practice activities and by 1910 had retired altogether. He died in Seattle in October 1921 at the age of 91.[17]


Boone & Meeker's Yesler-Leary Building in background
The Barnes Building (1890)
The Globe Building (1890–91)
J.M. Frink (Now known as Washington Shoe) Building. The top 2 floors were a later addition

Boone and Meeker[edit]

  • City Building (1882, Destroyed) – 3rd Street S. (now 2nd Ave S), Seattle[18]
  • Marshall Building (1882, Destroyed) – Commercial Street (now 1st Ave. S.), Seattle
  • McNaught, Walker & Renton Building (1882–3, Destroyed) – Commercial Street (now 1st Ave. S.), Seattle
  • Boyd & Poncin Building (1882, Destroyed) – Front Street (now 1st Ave.), Seattle[19]
  • Yesler – Leary Building (1882–3, Destroyed) – now NE corner of 1st Ave. and Yesler Way, Seattle[20]
  • Carliss P. Stone Block (1883, Destroyed) – Front Street (now 1st Ave.), Seattle[21]
  • Schwabacher Building (1883, Destroyed) – Yesler Way West of 1st Ave., Seattle[21]
  • Henry Yesler House (1883-4, Destroyed) – 3rd, 4th, James and Jefferson Streets, Seattle[21]
  • Wah Chong Building (1883, Destroyed) – S. 3rd St., Seattle[22]
  • Annie Wright Seminary (1883-4, Destroyed) – 611 Division Ave., Tacoma[23]
  • Villard Reception Pavilion (1883, Destroyed) Seattle[24]
  • Watson Squire Building (1883, Destroyed) – S. 2nd St., Seattle
  • Seattle Safe Deposit Building (1884, Destroyed) – Front Street (now 1st Ave.), Seattle[25]
  • Eben A. Osborne House (1884, Destroyed) – 1124 4th Ave., Seattle
  • Bishop Paddock House (1884, Destroyed) – Division & Tacoma Streets, Tacoma
  • Wilkeson & Kandle Building (1884, Destroyed) – Pacific near 11th, Tacoma
  • Gordon Hardware Building (1884, Destroyed) – Front Street (now 1st Ave.), Seattle
  • Washington College (1885, Destroyed) – 714 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma
  • Territorial Insane Asylum (1886-7, Destroyed) – Steilacoom
  • Toklas & Singerman Building (1887, Destroyed) – 1st Ave. and Columbia, Seattle
  • Charles L. Denny House (1887, Destroyed) – Seattle
  • Yesler Block (1887-8, Destroyed) – adjoining Yesler – Leary Building, Seattle
  • I.O.O.F. Building [Barnes Building] (designed 1889, built 1890) – 2320–2322 1st Ave., Seattle
  • South School (1888-9, Demolished) – Seattle
Central School (1888-89, demolished)
  • Central School (1888-9, Demolished) – Seattle

William Boone[edit]

  • Washington State Penitentiary (1873-4, Demolished) McNeil Island[26]
  • Mrs. Oren O. Denny Residence (1889, Demolished) 11th Ave & Seneca Street, Seattle
  • Phinney Building [Carleton Block/Ramona Hotel] (1889, Demolished) – Seattle
  • Sanderson Block [Merchants Cafe] (1889), Yesler Way, Seattle[27]
  • Wah Chong Building [Phoenix Hotel] (1889, Demolished) – 2nd Ave. S. and S. Washington Street, Seattle
  • McNaught Building (1889, Destroyed) – S.E. corner of Second S. at Washington, Seattle
  • Post – Edwards Block [The Lusty Lady] (1890) 1315 1st Ave., Seattle
  • Marshall – Walker Building (1890–91) – 1st Ave. S. and Main, Seattle
  • Dexter Horton Building [Occidental Building] (1889) – NW corner of 3rd & Cherry, Seattle
  • Leary – Walker Building (1893, Destroyed) – 2nd Ave., Seattle
  • 5-story building for Cyrus Walker (1899–1900, Destroyed) – NW corner of 2nd & Spring, Seattle

Boone and Willcox[edit]

  • New York Block (1890–92, Demolished) – NE Corner of 2nd & Cherry, Seattle
  • McKenney Block (1890–91, Destroyed) – 4th & Capitol Way N., Olympia
  • St. Mark's Rectory (1891, Demolished) - Olive Way, Seattle
  • Plymouth Congregational Church (1891-2, Destroyed) – 3rd & University, Seattle
  • Walker Building (1891–2) [only 1 floor built] – 107 Occidental Ave S, Seattle
  • J.M. Frink Building [Washington Shoe Building] (1891–2) – SE Corner of Occidental and Jackson, Seattle

Boone and Corner[edit]

  • Chapin Building (1901) - 171 S Jackson St., Seattle
  • Pacific Drug Company [U.S. Rubber Building] (1902) - 319 3rd Ave, Seattle
Seattle High School, one of Boone's last commissions
  • Seattle High School (1902-3, became Broadway High School, a vocational school for WWII vets, and the campus is now part of a Seattle Central College. Demolished in the 1970s; surviving auditorium the Broadway Performance Hall was designed by Edgar Blair) – 1625 Broadway, Seattle
  • Walker Block [Seattle Quilt Building] (1903-4) – 316 1st Ave. S., Seattle
  • Talbot & Walker Building [Heritage Building] (1904) - 101 S Jackson St., Seattle


  1. ^ a b Ochsner, p. 20
  2. ^ Ochsner, p. 19
  3. ^ 1870 United States Census, United States Census, 1870; Olympia, Thurston, Washington Territory; roll M593_1683, page 227B, line 1. Retrieved on 2010-03-10.
  4. ^ a b Ochsner & Andersen, p. 32
  5. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 33
  6. ^ a b Ochsner & Andersen, p. 34
  7. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 40
  8. ^ a b Ochsner & Andersen, p. 41
  9. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 42
  10. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 161
  11. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 180
  12. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 162-3
  13. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 98-9
  14. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 164
  15. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 238-40
  16. ^ Ochsner, p. 18
  17. ^ Ochsner & Andersen, p. 286
  18. ^ "Council Proceedings". Seattle Daily Post Intelligencer. 29 Apr 1882. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Local". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 14 Jun 1882. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Plans Accepted: Work on Leary's Block to Commence at Once". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 10 Aug 1882. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  21. ^ a b c "Some New Buildings: Description of Some of a Few of the Fine Structures to Be Built in Seattle This Season". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 15 Apr 1883. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  22. ^ "Brevities". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 13 Jul 1883. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  23. ^ "Brevities". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 29 Jul 1883. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  24. ^ "Brevities". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 28 Aug 1883. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  25. ^ "Safe Deposit for Seattle". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 6 Mar 1884. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  26. ^ "An Old Puget Sounder: The History of a Useful Craft... The General Harney and the Services She Has Performed". Seattle Daily Post-Intelligencer. 13 Dec 1882. Retrieved 13 July 2018.
  27. ^ "The Work of the Builders". The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Library of Congress. 7 Apr 1889. Retrieved 25 July 2018.


  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl; Andersen, Dennis Alan (2003). Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and the Legacy of H.H. Richardson. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-295-98238-0.
  • Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl (1998). Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects [Corrected]. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0-295-97366-1.
  • MacIntosh, Heather M. (October 21, 1998). "Boone, William E. (1830–1921)". Historylink.com. Retrieved January 20, 2010.