The Sailor’s Union of the Pacific (SUP) purchased the First Avenue and Wall Street property at the end of World War II, but construction was delayed due to a nationwide strike in 1952. On June 4, 1953, ground-breaking finally took place on the 3-story building, amid much fanfare and hoopla, for an incredible $750,000 (about $7 million in today’s market).
The original building included a 1,000-seat auditorium, union administrative offices, library and dispatching hall on the main floor, and a restaurant, bar, gymnasium (including two boxing rings!), full locker rooms, and barber shop in the basement. With 22 studio apartments for retired union men on the upper story, the SUP building was to be a place where union members could live in a protected environment for a long period of time, in case of a strike.
On Friday, May 7, 1954, a dedication ceremony was attended by the likes of Washington State Governor, Arthur Langlie, First Congressional District Congressman, Thomas Pelly, Mayor of Seattle, Allan Pomeroy, members from the federal branch and union members from all across the country. After many years of growth, the SUP finally moved their headquarters to Harbor Island in 1995, and reportedly sold the building for $1 million, only $250,000 more than what it was built for 40 years prior.