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Hansee Hall was completed in 1936 as the new women’s dormitory, the first residence hall on campus since the 1890s completion of Lewis and Clark halls. Hansee “Hall” actually consists of four separate halls, wings, dormitories, or “houses” connected by a central corridor. These houses—named Leary, Blaine, McKee, and Austin—comprise what is today the oldest residence hall in continuous use on campus, as Lewis and Clark halls no longer function as dormitories. What was originally called the Women’s Residence Hall is located on the northern edge of campus, just south of Northeast 45th Street. It is now a gender-neutral residence.
Hansee Hall, designed by David Myers and John Graham Sr., is a prominent, three-and-a-half-story building complex with a symmetrical, modified H-plan footprint. The concrete-frame building complex, comprising a total of 111,364 square feet, is characterized by its Tudor Revival features, including the intricate massing with intersecting gabled roofs and dormers, variegated color slate roofing, multicolored brick cladding in warm shades of brown with cast-stone details, grouped windows, and arched head openings. The brick finish is primarily laid in a running bond, with rowlock headers and sills at the openings. Some wall surfaces feature a decorative bond with a diamond pattern formed by dark bricks. Additional detailing consists of ornamental cast-stone surrounds at wall openings, which are particularly elaborate at the first story. At the upper stories, leaded casement windows are arranged in groups of two or four. Oriel windows and three-sided bays feature cast-stone tracery. Tall, brick double chimneys project from the roof ridge, and a copper-clad cupola with a weathervane is centrally located on the primary east-west ridgeline.
Hansee Hall’s entry courtyards, with their brick and stone pathways, trees, bushes and flowering plants, lead to arched, glazed wood doors with spindlework details at each of the hall’s entryways. The largest of these courtyards, on the south side, is approximately 112 feet by 76 feet. The east and west courtyards are slightly smaller at approximately 103 feet by 69 feet. The north courtyard space functions predominantly as a service court accessible from Northeast 45th Street.
Funded with a combination of federal and state money, including a PWA loan of $270,000 and a $180,000 federal grant, Hansee Hall was designed to accommodate 325 women students within the four total houses. The houses were named in honor of important women in state or university history: Eliza Ferry Leary, daughter of the state’s first governor and wife of an early Seattle mayor; Catherine V. Blaine, Seattle’s first schoolteacher; Ruth Karr McKee, the first woman on the board of regents; and Isabella Austin, appointed the university’s dean of women in 1909. The name for the entire building was established by the regents in 1961 in honor of Martha Lois Hansee, who began teaching at the university in 1881 and later became dean of women. During World War II, Hansee Hall served as a barracks for the Naval ROTC and Marine officer candidates. It was returned to use as the women’s dormitory in 1945.
Although there have been some necessary maintenance updates to the building, including upgrades to the kitchen facilities and heating, plumbing, and fire and life safety systems, the building largely retains its Tudor Revival appearance.
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