Then and Now: Hotel Sinclair

Before electricity had readily reached Sequim 107 years ago, the area’s first hotel of note was built at the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue.


With time a handful of Sequim’s landmark structures have aged, yet still stand as quiet reminders of the past. In this series, Gazette staff take a step backward in time to compare these structures now from then and revisit the history, giving insight into the area’s early development.


Before electricity had readily reached Sequim 107 years ago, the area’s first hotel of note was built at the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue.

Hotel Sinclair included 50 rooms and later two annexes. Eventually the growing structure housed a cafe, saloon, barber shop, shoe shine parlor, card room, telephone office and bakery.

“The new hotel became the hub of the community,” according to “Dungeness: Lure of the River” by the Sequim Bicentennial History Book Committee.

The once bustling life ignited by the hotel’s existence is hardly felt today. Instead, the corner is occupied by the U.S. Bank, Sequim branch. Prior to U.S. Bank, however, Peoples Bank first moved into the location of the hotel in 1972, according to City of Sequim’s records: “A diary of the history of Sequim, its settlement and the first one hundred years of incorporation.”

Built by Joseph Keeler, Hotel Sinclair was one of many development endeavors Keeler spearheaded in Sequim. After moving to Sequim in 1903, Keeler co-owned a lumber mill and started the first telephone office. The mill later supplied the wood used to build the hotel.

Consistent with his ambitious efforts, Keeler bet every room in Hotel Sinclair would have running water and electricity, according to “Jimmy Come Lately: history of Clallam County,” a symposium published by Clallam County Historical Society. To win his bet, Keeler constructed a water tower that provided each room with gravity-fed water and brought in a gas powered generator for electricity.

The construction of Hotel Sinclair and its availability to both water and electricity spurred the onset of further development within the heart of Sequim. Soon Keeler helped lay pipelines to supply water to other buildings and the Sequim Light and Power Company got its start.

By 1914, the demand for electricity had grown and soon the Olympic Power Company supplied power to Sequim from the Elwha River, according to “Dungeness: The Lure of the River.”

While Sequim and the surrounding area continued to take shape, Hotel Sinclair matured into a popular space for the community to gather and enjoy “family dinners.” Less then a century ago it cost 35 cents per plate to eat at Hotel Sinclair.

“The menu contained cream of clam soup, relishes, young Sequim chicken fried in butter, Belgian hare fried with country gravy, or prime roast beef, sliced tomatoes fruit salad, mashed potatoes, young corn on the cob, strawberry shortcake, green apple pie, tea, coffee, milk or buttermilk,” according to “Dungeness: The Lure of the River.”

By 1916, the price had jumped to 50 cents per plate and meals were served twice daily.

Although Hotel Sinclair has long been gone and the cost for an equivalent dinner is far from 50 cents, its presence marked a dynamic, changing point in local history – a time of rapid growth and advancements in technology.