October 2, 2013

Soapy Smith at the Butler Hotel, Seattle, Washington 1897

The Butler Hotel
Seattle, Washington
As it looked in 1913
(Click image to enlarge)

n June 2, 1896, after an absence of two months, the steamer Utopia docked in Seattle, Washington. Upon disembarking, Soapy Smith registered at the Butler hotel on Second and James streets, listing his residence as Denver, Colorado. For the next two months Jeff traveled between Seattle and Spokane Falls.

Soapy was returning after his first trip to the District of Alaska to investigate the area and the rumors of gold in vast quantities, which for Soapy, meant gold camps and potential suckers in vast quantities. He found both, but not enough of either to stay just yet. He was in the process of getting back to the states when the ship, the Utopia, and its captain, John "Dynamite" O'brien, ran into financial and medical difficulties. It took Soapy two months to return to the states and he was surely happy to have big city amenities once again.

Butler Hotel
Courtesy of University of Washington
(Click image to enlarge)

The original Butler Hotel was a three story wooden structure erected in 1875 and razed in the great Seattle fire of 1889. Less than a month after the fire a new five-story Butler was constructed on the site, and soon became of of Seattle's finest.

The Butler was in the middle of the action
(Click image to enlarge)

By 1894 the Butler increased in size encompassing an entire block. When Soapy registered a room there, the hotel had its own electric plant and cold storage plant, as well as an open-front refrigerator in its grill room. The hotel was located just around the corner of the area known today as Pioneer Square. Here is where all the action took place during the Klondike gold rush. It was in Pioneer Square where Soapy got into a saloon brawl at the Horse Shoe Saloon on October 1, 1897.

The Grille
Butler Hotel restaurant
(Click image to enlarge)

The Hotel Butler Lobby

(Click image to enlarge)

Two more stories were added in 1903. By Prohibition the hotel had seen its better days pass, and it closed in 1933. All but the bottom two floors were then razed, and a multi-story parking lot was erected above, where the hotel had stood. The bottom two floors remain today.

The Butler as it looks today
 (Click image to enlarge)

The original main entrance to the Butler Hotel
(Click image to enlarge)

Sources: Wikipedia

Butler Hotel: page 416.

"The city seems to be overrun with 'bunko men,' highway robbers, common thieves and cutthroats. Their tricks are seldom made known to the public, except in cases of a very glaring nature where secrecy cannot be maintained, and if anything, the boldness of their operators has become much greater and their scene of operations much extended. In nine cases out of ten the victim himself pleads for secrecy, for be it known, these are men caught in these nets who would rather die than be found out."
Rocky Mountain News, Aug. 29, 1880


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1835: The first battle of the Texas Revolution takes place near the Guadalupe River when American settlers defeat a Mexican cavalry unit.
1858: Navajo Indians kill a U.S. soldier at Launa Chusca, near Ft. Defiance, New Mexico Territory.
1858: The first Butterfield Overland stagecoach reaches Tucson, Arizona Territory.
1862: a vigilante court starts proceedings in what would later become known as the Great Hanging at Gainesville [Texas]. Forty suspected Unionists are hanged this month, two others being shot and killed as they tried to escape.
1874: Civilian prospectors with the Custer expedition into the Dakota Black Hills discover gold on French Creek.
1874: President Grant visits Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory.
1876: The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas opens. It is the state's first venture into public higher education.
1877: Chief Joseph refuses to surrender while being held prisoner in Montana Territory. Colonel Miles attacks the Nez Perce Indians. The Nez Perce Indians capture an Army officer and threaten to kill him if Chief Joseph is not released. Nelson releases Chief Joseph. General Howard arrives with reinforcements.
1878: Charles Earl Bowles, alias “Black Bart,” holds up a Wells Fargo stagecoach 12 miles outside of Ukiah, California.
1882: Fort Dodge in Kansas is abandoned.
1889: The first international Conference of American States begin in Washington, DC.
1918: Granville Stuart dies in Missoula, Montana. A prospector and cattleman, Stuart was one of the first white men to discover gold (1858) in the deer Lodge Valley of Oregon country. He was a member of the vigilante group that put an end to Henry Plummer and his band of "Innocents." In 1884 he formed a band of vigilantes called the "Stranglers" and cleared eastern Montana of rustlers and stock thieves.

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