Frye Hotel celebrates 100 years - fourteen as low-income housing

May 10, 2011

When the Frye Hotel opened for business, President Roosevelt was a guest at the grand opening. That's Theodore Roosevelt. The new hotel was a hot spot for important gatherings and conventions. Like the National Association of Master Horseshoers and Blacksmiths.

The year was 1911. That's three years before the iconic Smith Tower - also pictured above - was constructed.

Today the Frye Hotel has federal landmark status and is part of the Pioneer Square Historic District.

During World War II and after, the Frye served as military housing. In the early 1970's, a new owner turned the hotel into subsidized housing. As the subsidy program ended, the hotel came under threat of conversion to market-rate housing.

Converted to low-income housing

In 1997, the Frye's owners were ready to sell it to a for-profit developer who had made a backup offer to buy the building. The residents were at risk of being displaced and signed a petition to then-Seattle Mayor Norm Rice to save their homes.

That's when the non-profit Low Income Housing Institute purchased and renovated the old hotel  to preserve 234 units of housing for low-income families and individuals, seniors and people with disabilities.

Today, the Frye continues to serve low income households in need. Many families have incomes less than 30% of the area median income or $20,550 for a two-person household. And each year, LIHI opens up a community room for a severe weather emergency shelter, housing up to 32 homeless women each night.

Today, Seattle dignitaries, key funding partners, Frye residents and volunteers were on hand to celebrate the Frye's first century.

To learn more about the storied past of the Frye Hotel/Apartments, check out the story at Historylink.org.