Blaze damages building that survived fire of 1889
It survived the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, but the historic Metropole Building, where Seattle pioneer Henry Yesler is believed to have...
Seattle Times staff reporter
It survived the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, but the historic Metropole Building, where Seattle pioneer Henry Yesler is believed to have had his first office, was damaged Monday by a fire started by a cigarette tossed into a trash can.
Passers-by saw smoke coming from the building at Second Avenue and Yesler Way early Monday and called the Seattle Fire Department. When firefighters arrived, they found flames had already destroyed the building's stairs and they had a difficult time finding the origin of the fire, said Sue Stengl, department spokeswoman.
The fire was put out about three hours later. Damage to the building and its contents totaled $1.1 million.
The fire has been ruled accidental.
The three-story building in Pioneer Square is home to a market — which sustained most of the damage — and a number of offices.
The building, with its Richardsonian/Romanesque style, was part of the real-estate holdings that ultimately made businessman Henry Yesler a rich man. Yesler commissioned its construction along with the nearby Pioneer Building, but the exact date of construction is in dispute. It was sometime before 1890.
The building's sandstone exterior, however, made it possible for it to withstand the Great Seattle Fire that destroyed 58 city blocks of wood-frame buildings and ushered in a building code requiring downtown commercial buildings to be built of brick or stone.
The Metropole was the first home of the G.O. Guy Pharmacy. According to a Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Web site, during a vice crackdown in 1901 Seattle Police Chief William Meredith chased theater owner John Considine into the drugstore and fired a shotgun at him, but missed and almost struck G.O. Guy.
Considine wrestled the gun away from Meredith, then shot and killed him. Considine later was acquitted of murder.
After Yesler's death in 1893, the building became the center of a dispute as one of Yesler's servants challenged the validity of Yesler's will in which he gave the Metropole to his personal secretary. The secretary won her case, and her heirs later inherited the building. In the late 1960s, attorney Michael Stern bought it and put $300,000 into its renovation.
The building has changed hands numerous times since then. The current owner is No Boundaries Ltd.
Nancy Bartley: 206-464-8522 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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