As its name suggests, the Times Building housed the business, editorial and printing functions of one of Seattle's prominent newspapers. The Times was best known throughout the Pacific Northwest as the paper of the Blethen family, who purchased it in 1896. Col. Alden J. Blethen added innovations such as society, theater and fraternal columns, which boosted circulation from 3,000 papers a day in 1896 to 70,000 a day in 1915. The expanding paper needed more room and in 1915 moved to a larger, far more elegant home. Its triangular site allowed light to flow into every section of the building and enabled the architects to cover every elevation with beige terra-cotta decoration. The locally prominent firm of Bebb and Gould constructed the building so that four more stories could be added in anticipation of later expansion and heavily insulated the ground floor so that the printing machines would not distract those working upstairs.
After the move, the Times instituted two popular new services that further established its place in the rapidly growing city. It offered an information line, where a battery of telephone operators fielded questions on any topic, from the size of the pyramids to trolley departure schedules. The paper also installed a large illuminated baseball diamond on the Fifth Avenue side of the building, where lights were flashed on and off to indicate every play after it was received over the Teletype. A good game could draw a crowd sufficient to block the street. By 1931, the circulation of the paper grew too large for the building. A new plant was built in the northeast corner of the city and the building passed to other hands. Though no longer used for its original purpose, the Times Building remains an office building notable for its elegant exterior.
The Times Building is located at the intersection of Olive Way and Sewart St., at 414 Olive Way. The building is open to the public during regular business hours.
Detail over doorway
Photographs by David Hansen
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