Hotel Theodore opened as the Roosevelt Hotel in 1930, named after the 26th U.S. president, who’d visited Seattle in 1903.
From its very beginnings, the building encapsulated Seattle’s pioneering spirit. Its architect, John Graham Sr., was one of the city’s most prominent: the firm he founded was behind iconic city structures like the Seattle Exchange Building, the Frederick & Nelson department store (now the downtown Nordstrom), and, under his son’s leadership, the Space Needle. Graham’s designs account for the hotel’s distinctive, modernist Art Deco style. The 18-story building remained Seattle’s tallest hotel for decades, with 234 rooms and an ornately furnished lobby detailed in French modern style. In contrast to hotels that catered to residents (the norm at the time), the Roosevelt Hotel positioned itself as a traveler-oriented hotel.