Answer to Quiz #63 - June 9, 2006
This building is named after a man
who made his fortune in guns and typewriters.
1. Where is the building located?
2. What is its name?
3. Who is it named after?
Forensic Genealogy
Table of Contents
The Digital Detective
The Digital Detective
Where, Who.....?
A Case Study in Digital Detective Work
Submitted by Lynda Barlow.  Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
The Database Detective
1. Seattle, Washington
2. The Smith Tower
3. Lyman Cornelius Smith
(of Smith & Wesson and Smith & Corona fame)
The Database Detective
Quick Facts
The Ulmer Family
A Case Study in Database Detective Work
The Smith Tower is located in Seattle,
Washington.  It is 42 stories tall and was
completed in 1914.  It was named after an
industrialist in Syracuse, NY - Lyman
Cornelius Smith, who opened the L. C. Smith
Shotgun Factory in Syracuse in the mid-1880's
and then developed a typewriter later - his first
model being called the "Smith Premier".

To an unsophisticated nation [in 1914] just
being introduced to such 20th Century
wonders as aspirin, crossword puzzles,
brassieres, and neon signs, the newly minted
The DNA Detective
The DNA Detective
skyscraper was another favorite of the Sunday supplements. The 522-foot L.C. Smith
Building immediately joined their ranks, pictured in full page spreads which compared
its height with the Great Pyramid of Giza (at 476 feet, the equivalent of 37 stories); St.
Peter’s (435); the Cathedral of Cologne (512); the Washington Monument (555); the
Woolworth Building (792), and the 984- foot Eiffel Tower.
506 Second Avenue at Yesler Way
Seattle WA United States

Status: built
Construction Dates
Started: 1911
Finished: 1914
Floor Count: 38
Basement Floors: 1
Elevator Count: 8
Building Uses - office
Structural Types - highrise
Architectural Style - neo-classical
Materials - terra cotta

Heights Value
Spire 149.0 m
Roof 141.7 m
Top floor 122.5 m
Observation deck

- Architect: Gaggin and Gaggin

- When built, was the tallest building in the world
outside of New York City.

- The building remained tallest on the West Coast
until the Space Needle was built.
How It Ranks Next to Other Skyscrapers
On July 4, 1914, the 462-foot-high Smith Tower, located in downtown Seattle, is
dedicated. At the time it is one of the tallest buildings west of New York and the tallest
building west of Ohio.

In height the Smith Tower was gradually superseded by taller buildings. By 1923 it was
the tallest building west of Chicago, by 1931 the tallest west of Kansas City, and by
1943 the tallest west of Dallas. It did remain the tallest building west of the Rockies for
nearly half a century. At birth it was nearly twice as tall as the previously highest
building in town (the 247-foot clock tower of the King Street Station), but by 1985 it
was less than half the height of the 937-foot Bank of America Tower (originally
Columbia Center.) The Seattle Space Needle surpassed the Smith Tower in 1962, but
the Space Needle is not technically considered a skyscraper. In Seattle the Smith Tower
remained the tallest building until the SeaFirst Building was constructed in 1968.
L.C. Smith, like another upstate New York manufacturing firm, E. Remington & Sons,
had made his name and fortune in the manufacture of small arms. Earlier, Remington
had successfully channeled those skills into production of the first workable typewriter,
Smith followed. Now as he listened to his son’s presentation, he quickly saw its value.
If you want to push office equipment, make your office building a world-beater, the
son argued. The father agreed. Plans were shelved for the 14-story building, a figure
Smith had arrived at after talks in Seattle with John Hoge, also fresh from the East
Coast and planning his Second Avenue and Cherry Street office building.

Instead, the Syracuse, N.Y. architectural firm of Gaggin & Gaggin, manfully rising
above the fact it had never designed a structure higher than a few floors, created plans
for one of the world’s earliest skyscrapers. It
was to have a 21-story tower rising from a main
21-story structure, topped by a pyramid shaped
Gothic cap, a design influenced by the circa-
1909 Metropolitan Life Building young Smith
had admired. While this was going on, canny L.
C. Smith leaked his plans to Seattle’s city
fathers, archly suggesting that to make them
final he would need assurances that municipal
governmental offices would forevermore be
within four blocks of his projected tower. A
dazzled City Council responded with a resolution
to that effect.

(In 1954, the City of Seattle, then considering
plans for a new Public Safety Building, was
offered the Smith Tower for $900,000 with the
nearby Smith Tower Annex thrown in for an
additional $90,000 to serve as a garage. The
offer was rejected on the advice of the City
Planning Commission.) The L.C. Smith Building
Smith Tower under construction.
with its 540 offices, including 60 in its Gothic Tower, was built without injury or
incident, even setting a record during final stages when E.E. Davis & Co., steel
contractors, erected ight tower floors during a single rainy week.

Around the steel framework was wrapped a cladding of white ornamented terra cotta, a
material dating back into antiquity and so resistant to the assaults of city grime that the
Smith Tower got its first face washing (with detergent) in 1976. Little wood was used
in construction of the Smith Tower, an innovation which didn’t endear a newcomer to
a neighborhood of timber men. Window frames and sashes were fashioned of bronze.
Doors were steel, hand finished to resemble highly grained mahogany. Mosaic tiles,
Alaska marble and Mexican Onyx provided a mirrored setting for the highly polished
brass used as a trim on the elevators and the telegraph and mail chutes.

The crown jewel of the Smith Tower is the legendary 35th floor Chinese Room. The
room’s name derives from the extensive carved
wood and porcelain ceiling and the elaborately
carved blackwood furniture that were gifts to
Mr. Smith from the Empress of China. The
observatory’s furnishings include the famed
Wishing Chair. The chair, product of the skill of
a Chinese carver and quite likely the skill of an
early day virtuoso publicity man, incorporates a
carved dragon and a phoenix, which when
combined, portends marriage.

Hence the chair came with the sentimental- and
Lobby of the Smith Tower
sexist- legend that any wishful unmarried woman who sits in it would be married within
a year. Some validity to the claim was noted, or at least implied, when Smith’s daughter
was wed in the observatory a year following her visit to the building’s opening.

L.C. Smith did not live to see his $1 million tower
completed. But his son was there opening day,
July 3, 1914, when some 4,000 Seattle dignitaries
and the common people rode to the 35th floor to
gape at the city below from the observatory deck.


For a magnificent virtual tour of the Chinese
Room, visit

For some beautiful pictures of the interior and the
exterior of the Smith Tower, see
r/images.html and  
The Wishing Chair
Ceiling of the Chinese Room
Ticket No. 1
One who wasn’t among the invited guests [to the
opening in 1914] was Vice Admiral Kuroi aboard the
cruiser Asama, flagship of a Japanese Navy cruiser
force then in Elliott Bay on a goodwill mission.

The next day, spurning invitations to Fourth of July
auto races, balloon ascensions, parades and pageants,
Admiral Kuroi telephoned C.G. Yadell, secretary of the
Seattle Chamber of Commerce. To the flustered
Yadell, the admiral said, or at least was quoted as
saying: “I am burning with desire to see your beautiful
city from the top of its highest building.” A few hours
later, Yadell, Judge Thomas Burke (owner of a
number of downtown buildings including the nearby
Empire Building) and Burns Smith were on hand to
escort the admiral to the Chinese observatory. There
he murmured sympathetically as his hosts pointed out
where Mount Rainier would be visible if it weren’t so
unseasonably overcast.

To further smooth troubled waters, Smith presented
The Smith Tower today.
Admiral Kuroi with Ticket No. 1 to the L.C. Smith building’s Chinese observatory. The
admiral repaid the compliment by waving the pass aloft to reporters as his launch
returned him to the Asama.

Adapted from The Seattle Times, Sunday, December 12, 1976
Subtle Clues to Seattle
Although the picture of the Smith Tower featured in this week's quiz
was owned by Lynda Barlow for many years, she did not know its
identity. There are two clues in the picture that helped us determine its
name and location. We sent several Quizmasters a higher resolution
version of the photo for a chance to get extra credit by finding these two
clues. You can see the higher res version by clicking on the thumbnail to
the left.

The first clue is the sign for the Hotel
Seward towards street level to the
left of the Smith Tower. This indicates the picture was taken
"The Morrison began life as the New Arctic
Hotel Building, whose doors opened in
Octoberof 1909. The largest social club in
Seattle, the
Arctic Club occupied half of the building. It is
claimed, with apparent justness, the Arctic
Club has the richest and most commodious
home of any social organization west of
Chicago, reported a magazine in 1912.
"By 1916 the Arctic Club outgrew its home at Third and Jefferson. They moved to the
newly constructed Arctic Building on Third and Cherry. The New Arctic Hotel building
then became the Hotel Seward, advertising rooms to let by the night or week. In 1934 it
changed ownership and became the Hotel Morrison, which offered 300 up-to-date
rooms from $1 and up."

Read whole article at

The second clue to the location of the picture is the collection of vertical lines in the
background to the far left. There are several possibilities for these lines - they could be
smokestacks from factories, dead trees, telephone poles. They are probably ship masts
considering the several dark and light bans in the distance that could be a body of water
with an opposite shore in the distance. This is consistent with the mystery building
being located in Seattle. When I searched for skyscrapers in
Seattlewith thirty-something floors, I found a picture of the Smith Tower.
Many of our Quizlings and Quizmasters came up with the answer Epithelet Remington,
also of gun and typewriter fame. I found out through several respondents that there is a
Remington Rand building at 315 Park Avenue, NYC. The parallels between the
Remingtons and the Smiths are obvious.

The Remington Rand Building did not resemble the skyscraper in our quiz photo,
though. For one thing, the Remington Rand Building has only 20 floors, whereas the
one in our photo clearly has over thirty. See


"Source:  History of Herkimer County, New York, Edited by George A. Hardin, assisted
by Frank H. Willard, Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1893, pages

The writer who attempts to make a history of Ilion must give very much of his
attention to the founding and growth of the great Remington arms works, which have
in recent years passed to other hands.  The farm which Eliphalet Remington (senior)
purchased in 1816 lay upon the banks of a small stream (Steele's Creek) in the then
wilds of Herkimer county, the waters of which have now almost disappeared.  Young
Remington early showed remarkable mechanical genius, and tradition tells of how he
constructed a gun for his own use before he reached manhood, an appeal for one to his
father having resulted in refusal.  The gunsmith at Utica, to whom the boy's gun barrel
was taken for rifling, saw that it was made in an unusually excellent manner and greatly
encouraged its maker by his praise.  It should be stated that there was a forge of some
kind on the Remington farm, which served the boy's purpose in making the gun barrel.  
When the fame of that first production began to spread, as it soon did, young
Remington was called on at first by a few and soon by many others to make guns for
them.  At first he made only the barrels, but gradually extended his operations to the
finishing of the complete guns.  Down to about 1831 the work was prosecuted at the
home place, and the demand for the Remington barrels and guns far exceeded the
capacity of the insignificant works."

Read more about the Remington family's development of agricultural implements,
sewing machines, and typewriters at
Remington Rand
Building, NYC
Philo Remington
1816 - 1889
Samuel Remington
1819 - 1892
Funny coincidence of the week:


After doing the latest quiz yesterday on the Smith Tower, I checked Ebay for what new
listings there are for Portland, Maine, as I look for old Portland stuff and I could not
believe this item below pops up. Then this terrible song starts to play in my head, "it's a
small world after all!"  Played by the keys on Smith typewriters of course.

"leases,Smith Typewriters,1906,Portland Exchange,Maine Item number: 7628557972"

Fred Stuart
Remington, Jr.
1828 - 1924
Our Readers' Comments
Several of our Quizmasters got a lucky break because they live in the Seattle area and
recognized the building immediately.

Hi Colleen,

Well, what a nice surprise to see Seattle's own Smith Tower featured on the site.  I
remember going up in the tower when I was just a little girl and being scared to death!  
I hated it and was sure the whole thing would fall down or I'd fall off...

Anyway, the tower is named for Lyman Smith of Smith-Corona and Smith & Wesson
and was the tallest building outside of NY for over 50 years.  Even though it's now
dwarfed by tall buildings it's still very grand!

Sue Edminster
Granite Falls, WA
(about 50 miles NE of Seattle)
Congratulations to our winners!

Vicki Hilb       Heather McLeland-Wieser
Jim Berry                Suzan Farris
Eva Royal                Carol Phillips
Elizabeth Mackie                Walter Wood
David Lepitre                Betsy Scott
Susan Fortune                Mary Fraser
Judy Pfaff                Ken Smith
Steve Zalewski                Alice Hix
Mike Hogle                Randy Seaver
Anne Gengler                John Chulick
Fred Stuart                Stan Read
Rick Mackenney                Sue Edminster
Raymond Cathcart        Mark Brzys (aka R. Jenko)
Marty Guidry                Bobbie Sims
Dale Niesen                Marilyn Hamill
Debbie Sterbinsky                Phyllis Barattia
Sherry Marshall                Elaine C. Hebert
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somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Searching on Google produces information on an
Seward Hotel (not Hotel Seward) in Alaska, and a Hotel Seward that was
located in Seattle in the 1930s. The one in Alaska does not look like the mystery picture
(and has the wrong name). The description of the one in Seattle published in
CornerStone,  Issue #10, Summer 2003 fits the mystery photo better.
Quiz #63 Results