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c.a. 1920s

History of
the Panama Hotel

The historic Panama Hotel, designed by Sabro Ozasa - the first Japanese architect in Seattle and one of the earliest to practice in the country - was completed in 1910 and opened as a workingman’s hotel for single Japanese men coming to America seeking work. The hotel is located in the center of “NIHONMACHI” Japantown, Seattle (also known as the International District) and houses Hashidate-yu, the last intact Japanese-style public bathhouse in North America.

When Executive order 9066 was issued and people of Japanese ancestry were forced to go to the internment camps, the Japanese community in NIHONMACHI brought their valuables to be stored in the basement of the hotel. Efforts have been made over the years to locate the owners and families of the trunks and the properties, quite a few were left unclaimed, and you can see them through the glass on the floor of the Panama Hotel Tea & Coffee, located on the first floor of the building.

National Trust has documented 8500 items, cataloged, and mapped. Because of the historical value of the hotel, it was designated as a National Treasure in 2015. The five-story building has storefronts on the ground floor, a mezzanine, and it still operates as a hotel today.

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The Panama Hotel opens


Hori family starts to own


Former owner Takashi Hori, sells to the current owner Jan Johnson


Awarded State Historic Preservation Officer's 1996 Annual Award



Registered as a National Historic Landmark


Jamie Ford publishes the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, NYT best seller



Won Long-Term Project Award from Association of King County Historical Organization



Designated as the Seattle City Landmark

Original Features

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