The three-story, reinforced-concrete Van Gilder Hotel was built as an office block in 1916. E. L. Van Gilder intended that it be a two-story building but was persuaded to add a third story for fraternal lodge rooms. Upon completion, Van Gilder was forced to sell it at a loss and leave Seward. The new owner, Charles E. Brown of Brown and Hawkins, sold it within a year to M. A. Arnold of Seattle, who succeeded in renting out the building as offices, apartments, and lodge rooms. In 1921, however, it was converted to a hotel, the finest in Seward.
The building, which measures 34 feet by 85 feet, had all the modern conveniences in 1916. Each office suite on the first and second floors had hot and cold running water, central heat, and frosted glass partitions. The exterior has remained virtually unchanged, with a central round-arch entrance, paired windows, and a decorative cornice. The interior retains much of the original plan, a central corridor with rooms on each side.