“Every Room a Corner Room”

If you’ve visited Seattle’s University District, you have probably noticed Hotel Deca, a towering structure located at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and 45th Street NE. Its Art Deco style, boutique feel and proximity to the University draw guests today, just as they did when the hotel first opened in 1931.

Postcard advertising the Hotel Edmond Meany, ca. 1934 (Courtesy of UW Special Collections)

The idea for a hotel in the University District came from members of the community and local businesses under the University Hotel Operating Corporation, which raised $297,700 to buy the land and then further financed the construction through the sale of stocks and bonds. After amassing the required capital, the Hotel Corporation chose Robert C. Reamer to design what they envisioned to be a cultural and social landmark for the neighborhood. In keeping with their commitment to community engagement, the Hotel Corporation hosted a contest to name the new hotel, with the ultimate winning entry honoring Edmond S. Meany, a beloved professor, former state representative and local icon of the time.

Hotel Construction, from The Seattle Daily Times, May 3, 1931

Construction of The Hotel Edmond Meany began in 1930 and was extensively covered in The Seattle Daily Times, which featured several photos at various stages of the building’s construction, one of which is shown here. The structure is in the modernist Art Deco style and is primarily made of steel reinforced concrete, which was poured in place. Sixteen stories tall, the hotel featured nearly 150 rooms located around a central elevator shaft and stairwell – allowing the hotel to proudly boast that “every room is a corner room.” When the building opened on November 12, 1931, it was celebrated with a grand banquet and ball. The honored guest of the evening was Edmond S. Meany himself, who was the first person to sign the hotel registry.

House being moved to make way for the construction of a parking garage adjacent to the Hotel, April 1946 (Courtesy of MOHAI)

Lobby of the Hotel after renovation in 1997 (Courtesy of Assassi Productions for NBBJ)

Since its opening, the Edmond Meany has changed hands three times, but has always remained a hotel. While today the external structure looks much as it did in 1931, the interior has been redesigned several times. Notably, a renovation in the 1990s by Seattle architecture firm NBBJ sought to restore the 1930s style of the hotel by revealing older floors and columns to recapture the initial design of the building, which had been plastered over through the decades. The name has also shifted from the Edmond Meany Hotel to the Meany Tower Hotel to the University Tower Hotel – before attaining its current name, Hotel Deca, in 2008, when the building was acquired by Noble House Hotels and Resorts.

Hotel Deca today (Wikimedia Commons)

The hotel has served and continues to serve as an icon of the University District and a popular location for functions and meetings. Today much of the original majesty of this storied hotel still survives, so if you have the chance, go inside and have a look around the lobby!

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