Franklin Apartments

2302 4th Avenue

Franklin Apartments, Seattle, May 27, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Entrance detail, Franklin Apartments, Seattle, May 27, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Public meeting poster to save Franklin Apartments, Courtesy Friends of Belltown
Franklin Apartments, 1937, Courtesy Washington State Archives

2302 4th Avenue

In 1917, local architect B. Dudley Stuart published a map titled Seattle’s Coming Retail and Apartment-House District. It centered on the fourth regrade of Denny Hill. Despite the hope that businesses would move into the lowered and leveled land, it was instead open terrain with few structures. But the proximity to the main downtown core meant that it still had potential for people such as real estate developer Frank Jordan, who saw an opportunity when he opened the Franklin Apartments in 1918.

Relatively elegant with Alaskan marble and terra cotta ornamentation, the Franklin was built for single people and couples who worked downtown. Women would have found it particularly attractive: it offered respectable, affordable housing not necessarily found in the many lower end, workers’ hotels that dotted Seattle. Amenities included gas ranges, folding kitchen tables, closet beds, ironing boards, and telephone, along with a “cooling closet,” a cupboard with its back against a perforated outside wall that let in air to ventilate the cool box.

As historian Mimi Sheridan has written, the increasing role of women in the work force encouraged apartment construction in this era. She has found that there were about 50 buildings like the Franklin — oriented toward couples and single people — in Seattle by 1918. At least 20 apartments opened in Belltown between 1911 and 1930. This is not the first time that Belltown has been a popular place to live.

If taking the Belltown tour, walk a block east on Bell to 5th Avenue and turn right. If taking the Market to MOHAI tour, walk east two blocks to 6th Avenue. One block north on the west side of 6th Avenue was the Church of the Sacred Heart.

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