historic structures report panama hotel .ma hotel building and its collections and for taking the

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  • Panama HotelH A S H I DAT E Y U BAT H H O U S E &


    H I S T O R I C S T R U C T U R E S R E P O R T

  • P a n a m a H o t e l2

  • H i s t o r i c S t r u c t u r e s R e p o r t 3

    This report was commissioned by Historic Seattle for Jan Johnson, owner of the Panama Hotel property.

    Funding was provided by the 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax via the Preservation Special

    Projects grant program, National Trust Preservation Fund, and Historic Seattle.

    Published April 30, 2014.

    Cover image is an undated historic photograph of the Panama Hotel. Photograph courtesy of Jan Johnson, owner of the Panama Hotel building.

  • P a n a m a H o t e l4


    The authors of this report wish to extend our gratitude and appreciation for the efforts of the following persons and organizations, without whom preparation of this report would not have been possible: Historic Seattle staff, including Executive Director Kathleen Brooker and Director of Preservation Services Eugenia Woo; the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacif ic American Experience, including Deputy Executive Director Cassie Chinn, for accompanying the Artifacts team on the initial tour through the building, and Collections Manager Bob Fisher; Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), specif ically Ching Chan, for coordinating access to the building; Barbara Johns, art historian and author of The Paintings and Wartime Diary of Kamekichi Tokita; Puget Sound Regional Archives; Seattle Municipal Archives; 4Culture; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the National Park Service; Gail Dubrow, author of Sento at Sixth and Main; and most especially Jan Johnson for her continuing stewardship of the landmark Pana-ma Hotel building and its collections and for taking the time to escort us around and through the building.

  • H i s t o r i c S t r u c t u r e s R e p o r t 5

    ProjeCt team

    Project team members consisted predominately of Artifacts Consulting, Inc. staff. Michael Sullivan, principal, provided project coordination and vision. Spencer Howard, managing partner, provided project management, f ield work coordinating, photography, and writing. Ka-tie Chase, partner, assisted in f ield work, archival research, photography, writing, and report design and layout. Additional team members included an architecture intern and editor. Brian Baker, architect intern and Historic Seattle volunteer, prepared the architectural drawings for the building. Niki Stojnic edited report text for spelling, grammar, and broad audience readability.

  • P a n a m a H o t e l6

    administrative data

    Historic Name

    Panama Hotel

    Current Name

    Panama Hotel

    Year Built



    605 South Main Street

    Seattle, King County, WA

    Proposed Treatment

    Rehabilitation with Preservation of select highly signif icant areas


    Jan Johnson

    Legal Description

    MAYNARDS D S PLAT, Block 42, Lot 1

    Landmarks Status National Historic Landmark (listed March 20, 2006) Contributing Property, Seattle Chinatown National Register of Historic Places historic district

    (International District) Contributing property, International Special Review District (City of Seattle) Contains the last remaining intact Japanese bathhouse (sento) in the United States Contains personal belongings left by persons of Japanese ancestry (Nikkei) families interned at

    Minidoka under Executive Order 9066 Designed by Sabro Ozasa, Seattles first Asian-American architect

  • H i s t o r i c S t r u c t u r e s R e p o r t 7


    C ont r ibuto r s 4Pro j e c t Te a m 5A d m i n i s t r a t i v e D at a 6

    E x e c u t i v e S u m m a r y 9I nt ro duc t ion 11W h at i s a H i s to r i c S t r uc t u r e s R e p or t ? 1 2P u r p o s e o f t h i s R e p or t 13S u m m a r y o f R e p or t C ontent s 14S u m m a r y o f R e p or t F i nd i n g s 1 5

    H i s t o r y 17S i g n i f i c a nc e S t a t ement 19Ba c k g rou nd 2 0S e a t t l e s I n t e r n a t ion a l D i s t r i c t a nd Ni hon m a c h i 21Us e 2 3

    P h y s i c a l 31P hy s i c a l D e s c r ip t ion 33Cat a log o f S p a c e s 3 6Ch a r a c t e r- d e f i n i n g Fe a t u r e s Ca t a log 102

    F i n d i n g s 14 5A n a l y s i s 1 55S up p l ement a l 191

  • P a n a m a H o t e l8

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  • H i s t o r i c S t r u c t u r e s R e p o r t 9

    exeCutive summary

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  • H i s t o r i c S t r u c t u r e s R e p o r t 11


    A National Historic Landmark (NHL), the Panama hotel stands at the epicenter of Seattles Nihonmachi (a term used to refer to historical Japanese communities), as a nationally signif-icant representative of the Japanese immigration experience. In addition to its status as an NHL, the Panama Hotel is a contributing resource in the Seattle Chinatown Historic District (also known as International District or ID). The hotel building, designed by Sabro Ozasa, Seattles f irst Asian-American architect, historically housed key aspects of daily life for Japa-nese immigrants in Seattle, providing lodging upstairs in the hotel; access to Japanese-owned businesses in the retail spaces, basement, and second f loor; and community in the basements traditional Japanese-style bathhouse or sento.

    The building retains a high level of integrity, particularly in the hotel rooms and the bath-house. The buildings signif icance stems from its association with Seattles Japanese business district, a refuge for immigrants; Sabro Ozasa, the f irst practicing Asian-American architect in Seattle; and the intact Japanese-style bathhouse, one of only two surviving historic Japa-nese-style public bathhouses in the United States.

    The overall recommended treatment for the Panama Hotel is rehabilitation with preservation of select highly signif icant areas. National Historic Landmark nomination for this building establishes 1910 to 1942 as the period of signif icance.

    As a recently designated National Trust for Historic Preservation (Trust) National Treasure, the long-term goal is to f ind new stewards who will operate the historic Panama Hotel and assure the long-term preservation and interpretation of the building and its collections. The Trust is working closely with the current owner, Jan Johnson, who has carefully stewarded the Panama Hotel for over 30 years and is a true preservation hero. While the exterior is protect-ed by the local International Special Review District designation, the Panama Hotel does not have a plan in place for long term stewardship and protection.

    The Trust identif ies National Treasures as:

    Irreplaceable, critically threatened places across the country where the National Trust for Historic Preservation is making a deep organizational investment. Guided by more than 60 years of experience, we [Trust] are taking direct action to protect these places and promote their history and signif icance, engaging local preservationists to help us advance the cause of preservation nationally.

    National Treasures represent the diversity of our nations built history and remind all of us of the importance of preserving the irreplaceable places that tell Americas stories. From historic buildings to cultural landscapes, National Trust National Treasures are unique, movement-def ining places of actionsome of them iconic, others less familiar that will galvanize support and spark greater public understanding of how preservation contributes to vibrant communities.

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    WHat is a HistoriC struCtures rePort?

    A Historic Structures Report (HSR) is a written and il lustrated reference document that pro-vides a thorough historic and architectural evaluation of a building, site, or structure. It iden-tif ies signif icant original and subsequently added features and spaces, existing appearance and condition, and historic events associated with the structure. The purpose of this evaluation is to provide a basis for making decisions relating to maintenance, restoration, or rehabilitation of the building or structure. An HSR is usually prepared prior to planning interpretation, and any alterations, additions, rehabilitation, or restoration for buildings, structures, objects, or sites that are either on or eligible for listing to the National Register of Historic Places. The report is used to guide contemporary modif ications, reuse, or restoration of the property. Under the direction of the United States Department of the Interior, the National Park Ser-vice establishes specif ic content guidelines for the creation of Historic Structures Reports and suggests when a report should be prepared. These reports are required when performing work on federally owned historic buildings or structures and recommended for other buildings and structures that have considerable historic signif icance and community value.

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    PurPose of tHis rePort

    This Historic Structures Report serves as an extensive repository of information concerning the materials, spaces, and historic and architectural signif icance of the Panama Hotel. The report builds upon the background prepared for the National Historic Landmark nomination and is prepared for the purpose of providing the basic information needed to make decisions related to interpretation, maintenance, modif ications, and continued use of the building. In narrative form, the document presents the architectural and


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