The Arctic Club was a social institution for the men who returned from the Yukon gold rush after “striking it rich.” Though most who headed north found no gold, a small percentage did return to Seattle with more than just memories. The Arctic Club, originally located in the Morrison Hotel, provided an exclusive social community for those Seattleites who had returned from the Alaska Gold Rush with money in their pockets and a repertoire of stories to tell about their adventures in the Yukon.
In 1916, they commissioned A. Warren Gould, one of the city’s most prominent architects, to design the building that would become their institution’s new home. Gould created an eight-story building true to the club’s origins: fine Alaskan marble covers its main corridors and terra cotta walrus head statues run around the third-floor exterior. The Arctic Club Building was one of the earliest to use terra cotta panels placed over a steel reinforced concrete frame; however, unlike other early users of this technique, The Arctic Club Building sported not just off-white panels, but also used submarine blue and orange-brown. The club’s elegant interior once included a ladies’ tea room, private dining rooms, billiard and card rooms, a bowling alley, barber shop and private roof garden. The formal dining room, The Northern Lights Dome Room, was always the focal point of the club, its stuccoed ceilings, the ornamented cornices, and beautiful chandeliers speak of the rich history and foundations of this building.