[graphic heading] Seattle: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Servicer

Lyon Building
The Lyon Building illustrates changes in Seattle life both at the beginning and at the end of the 20th century. Although the flood of gold from the Yukon slowed to a steady stream as the 1900s opened, the city itself continued to expand rapidly. As part of this development, the business district began to stretch north from Pioneer Square, particularly up Second and Third Avenue. In the early 20th century the promise of development on Third Avenue was so appealing that the street was regraded and landowners formed the Third Avenue Club to initiate concerted action "in advancing the cause of street betterment." At the corner of Third Avenue and James Street, the Yukon Investment Company purchased the home of Bailey Gatzert, a prominent Seattle businessman, and the home was quickly "remolded as to be almost beyond recognition." The company recognized the need to expand upon the site but it took years to set their plans in motion.

The Lyon Building, erected in 1910, was one of the earliest landmarks of the architectural movement away from Romanesque Revival and toward grander "skyscrapers." Though only six stories tall, it helped alter the character of what had previously been a low-lying residential neighborhood. Its financing reflected another trend during this period: its owners obtained construction funds by selling holdings they had acquired in Alaska during the Gold Rush. Made from reinforced concrete and faced with brick, the building features at its top a terra cotta frieze and a classical cornice. For most of its existence, the Lyon Building offered shops at the street level and offices in the five floors above. In the summer of 1997, however, rehabilitation converted its upper stories into much needed housing for people disabled with HIV and AIDS.

The Lyon Building is located at 607 Third Ave., just north of the Pioneer Square-Skid Road Historic District. The building is not open to the public.

Lyon Building Lyon Building
Photograph by Chris Kelly

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