Once Tacoma’s heart and highest hopes were vested deep in the Winthrop Hotel. The modern 12 story steel frame building was opened in May 1925 after a community subscription drive by the Citizens Hotel Corporation funded the project. Some called it a civic moral recovery project after a fiery effort that went several rounds to rename the mountain “Tacoma” failed. Even with John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt on Tacoma’s side, the issue was settled in 1924 after Senator Clarence Dill moved the name change through the U.S. Senate only to have the House send the question back to the Geographic Names Board where it was denied. This historic image dates from exactly that time, when Tacomans felt like their heart had been torn out by powerful forces beyond.
Soon after the new hotel adopted the name of Theodor Winthrop, the adventurer who authored the book “the Saddle and the Canoe” before supposedly becoming the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. Hard way to promote a best seller, but it worked and a passage from the book was famously cited by Job Carr and his family, Mathew McCarver and a circle of early founders in naming the city after the mountain, Tacoma. Withrop called the native Salish name for the mountain “melodious” and added the misspelled quip “Mount Regnier, Christians have dubbed it, in stupid nomenclature, perpetuating the name of somebody or nobody”.
With its advanced fire proof construction, fire sprinklers, gracious baths in every room, speedy elevators, and a multi-story parking garage the Winthop was the last word in modern architecture and the city’s coded last word on the name of The Mountain.
Noting somewhat nervously the masonry work going on at the Winthrop Hotel I revisited Andy Cox’s Recaptured City image of the grand 1925 landmark. For more of this check in at: www.recapturedcity.com