A Brief History of Our BuildingJune 20th, 2014, by Olivia Menzer
Menzer Law Firm is located on the 8th story of the historic Hoge Building on the NW corner of Cherry St and Second Avenue, just east of Pioneer Square. This building was created in the era of financial decadence of the early 20th century, and boasts a little slice of Beaux-Arts architecture in this area of the Pacific Northwest.
Beaux-Arts is a style of neoclassical architecture that influenced American buildings heavily between 1880 and 1920. Erected in 1911 in this style, the Hoge Building shows terra cotta ornamentation for two stories, tan brick for the whole of the building, and a top decorated with lion heads.
The Hoge building was personally financed by John Hoge, in competition with L.C. Smith, to build the tallest building in Seattle. The steel frame of 18 stories went up in an astoundingly speedy 30 days, and with the site’s elevation and the extra height of each floor, the Hoge building was Seattle’s tallest building until 1914.
The Smith Tower stole this title when Smith added a 24-story tower to his originally 18 story building. The Hoge Building was left with the lone accolade of having been the second official ‘skyscraper’ on Seattle’s growing skyline, after The Alaska Building, which is now a Courtyard Hotel by Marriott.
Before downtown sprung up to these pioneering heights, there was another frontier builder in the same spot: Carson Boren. Boren was a member of the 1851 Denny Party to settle in what we now call West Seattle, and the Hoge Building exists on what was, reportedly, the first cabin built by a white settler in Seattle.
Boren used this spot to be a recluse later in his life, but it was eventually bought and commercialized into some shops, which were destroyed by the Great Seattle Fire of 1889.
Hoge bought the spot to build a three story brick building, as wood buildings were banned after the fire. This preliminary smaller building housed the Seattle P.I., Washington Territorial Investment Company and Washington National Bank, before the present, much taller edifice was built. The Hoge Building left Hoge family hands in 1986, and now stands as a reminder of the financial elite and their lifestyles in the early 1900’s.