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Bellevue Hotel

Looking back: Bellevue Hotel

Published in the Issaquah Press on June 24, 1988

LookBack6-24-98BThousands drive by the intersection of Front Street and Sunset Way each day, giving the downtown intersection (below) a thoroughly modern, busy feel despite nearby architecture from the old days. However, the corner has been a busy place for more than 100 years. Thomas and Mary Francis build the Bellevue Hotel on the southeast corner of this intersection, completing construction in May 1888. A very early picture of the structure (above) shows the two-story hotel with board sidewalks on the north and west side, a small one-story addition to the east side and a one-story addition to the rear of the structure. A dining room is located in the back of the hotel, with an entrance on the west side. Even in Squak, Washington Territory, in 1888, the local residents had an eye for nature. Note the small tree that had been planted in front of the hotel, protected by a board frame”

Bellevue Hotel

The Bellevue hotel was completed in May 1888. [IHM photo 72.21.14.217]

Bellevue Hotel

Looking back: Bellevue Hotel

Published in the Issaquah Press on July 1, 1988

Bellevue Hotel

Bellevue Hotel circa 1912. [IHM photo]

The Bellevue Hotel, at the southeast corner of the intersection between Front Street and Sunset Way, was quite a landmark in the early 1900’s. This photo, taken around 1912, shows that the entrance to the hotel was moved to the one story addition on the east side of the building. The double doors provided an entrance to the tavern, where “No Minors Allowed” adorns the glass above the doors. That tree that was so small in the previous photo is now a hearty specimen, and there are both power and telephone poles in place on each side of the structure.

Tibbetts Hotel

Looking back: Tibbetts Hotel and Store

Published in the Issaquah Press on June 23, 1999

Tibbetts Hotel

George W. Tibbetts was one of Issaquah’s earliest entrepreneurs. In addition to his hotel and store, he also became involved in farming hops and running a stage line, as well as in local and state government. The hotel shown here was built in 1884 and burned to the ground in July 1900. Living quarters and rooms to rent were upstairs. [IHM photo 92-24-6, p13, #11 Arcadia book caption]

With the recent completion of the second Issaquah Park-n-Ride lot along State Route 900 just south of Interstate 90, now is a good time to examine the history of that area. It previously was known as Goode’s Corner. This photo shows George W. Tibbetts Hotel and Store, which was built in 1884 and served as the local stage stop and overnight resting place. It was a popular locale until it was destroyed by fire in July 1900.

 

Grand Central

Grand Central Hotel

58 East Sunset Way

Grand Central

The Grand Central Hotel, summer of 2015. Photo by Cole Good.

When the Grand Central Hotel was constructed, Issaquah was a stopover point for passengers traveling by train from Seattle to Snoqualmie. James Henry Croston, who worked in the mines as a carpenter, built the hotel in 1903 and operated it until his death in 1913. The family eventually sold the hotel in 1920.

Early on, the hotel served as a temporary home to many of  Issaquah’s future residents while they established their homes and businesses in town. Until recently, the building was in sad condition, particularly when compared to photos of its former grandeur. However, in 2003 a local contractor and resident of the Grand Central, Kurt Schlick, began doing restoration and repair work that transformed the building’s facade.

Issaquah is fortunate in that many of its remaining early buildings, such as the Railroad Depot, Pickering Barn, Oddfellows Hall, and Gilman Town Hall have been restored to good condition. The Grand Central, the last remaining of many hotels that served Issaquah early in the century, remains an excellent candidate for future restoration work.

The adjacent Rolling Log Tavern has grown over the years, and now takes up part of the hotel building’s first floor. Originally a favorite hang-out of loggers in the 1930?s, the Rolling Log remains a favorite local pub.

 

History

This hotel is the last of many from Issaquah’s early years. It was built in 1903 as a three story rooming house by James Henry Croston, who operated it until his death in 1913. The Croston family sold the hotel in 1920, and the hotel has had many owners over the years. As of 1999, it is possible to rent a room, but the building is in deplorable condition.

James Henry Croston moved from England to Pennsylvania in 1879, and then to Issaquah in 1893. He worked in the local mines as a carpenter. The Croston family boast some eight generations of carpenters! Denny Croston who operated the Issaquah-based Croston Construction Company still lives in Issaquah today.

In the 1920s, the  “Grand Central Cafe” was added to the west side of the building.

According to a 1931 article in The Issaquah Press, the Grand Central Hotel was being run at that time by Mrs. M.Z. Marion. She was building up a successful business, but there had been “many changes in proprietorship” and a decline in quality from earlier years. Her chief aim was to “bring it back to the position it formerly occupied in the community.”

By 1940, the cafe had become the “Issaquah 10¢ Store.” At this time, the facade of the current “Rolling Log” tavern had been constructed to the west of the hotel, but the tavern had not yet been expanded to take over part of the hotel building.

Walt Seil & his father, Edward “Nogs” Seil (lssaquah’s Marshall) bought the Grand Central Hotel in 1945. According to the Seils, Walt ran the place for about a year; his wife, Olga, did the housekeeping. Later in 1945 Walt Seil went on to work at what turned into a 30 year career at the creosote plant in West Seattle; his parents took over the running of the Grand Central Hotel. Walt & Olga Seil still live in Issaquah today.

The Seils sold the hotel in 1962 to Art Burt, who sold it to John Lydon in 1994, along with the buildings housing the Rolling Log Tavern and the dry cleaning business behind the hotel.

Physical Description
From the 1998 “Issaquah Historic Property Inventory”:

This hotel, currently used as an apartment above and commercial space at the street has seen numerous changes over time that erode at the building’s historic integrity. The building currently has little of its original grandeur.

Asphalt siding was added in the 1940’s; this obscures the original wood siding. And the alterations that have occurred over time could be peeled back to reveal its history; wood porches could be added to replicate the documented original structure. The building in its location and its overall form remain unchanged; this is its essence.

As its name describes, the building was once both “grand” and “central”. The boxy 2 1/2 story large form sits right up to the sidewalk in the most urban way. Originally (now gone) a full attached second story porch was supported by four classic columns and created a covered front entry porch. The hipped roof form still sports small dormers on each side of the building. The soffit is a flat box soffit with medium overhangs. The upstairs has large 2-over-2 double hung windows. Original flat rustic drop siding with comer boards is still visible on the small dormers and at the sides and rear.

Bibliographic References

Issaquah Historical Society files. Issaquah Press March 19,1931. Interview with Walt & Olga Seil by Robin Abrahams & Anne Van Dyne, November 21,1997. Issaquah Press

“Issaquah Family Album: The Croston family”, March 21,1990.

Telephone Interview with Denny Croston by Anne Van Dyne. March 18,1998

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