Historic Panama Hotel


Japanese Bath Is 'Discovered' In Hotel Cave  

By Robert Mahaffay

George Francis is convinced he occupies just about the most unusual living quarters in the City of Seattle.

            In his front room stands a gigantic bathtub, approximately 9 by 12 feet, faced with rough marble.  The interior of the tub, or tank, which is four feet deep, is of concrete.  Along the bottom on the wall side run steam pipes for super-heating the water, while on the other three sides is a concrete ledge on which the bather may relax at his leisure.

             There is another, smaller tub, nine feet square, in the adjoining room.

Renovating Planned

            "It's an old Japanese Bath," explained Francis.  "I was hard-pressed for accommodations a while ago, and was lucky enough to get these.  With a little renovating, the quarters will be excellent."

            The baths lie deep in the interior of the Panama Hotel at 605 1/2 Main St.    Access to them may be had by the way of a defunct laundry fronting on Sixth Avenue South, but they also appear to have been reached in the past by a tunnel winding tortuously through the bowels of the establishment.  This route was discovered by A. D. Munroe, who leased the hotel from its Japanese owners Takashi and Fukashi Hori, in March, 1943. 

Rows of lockers stand idle after all these years

"I got to exploring around down there," explained Munroe, "and stumbled on this passageway.  I didn't know where it led, but I followed it, and it was the most surprised man in the world when it brought me out my own furnace room."

Tunnel Is Long

            The tunnel is several hundred feet long, with a heavy accumulation of cobwebs festooning its plaster walls.  At intervals its level is broken by short flights of steep steps.  Locked doors encrusted with the grim of the years are set in the walls. "Probably those doors just lead to storerooms," said Munroe, "but there aren't keys for them, and I've never had them open."

            Near the bath end is a small ail terranean corridor is a small oil furnace which formerly supplied the baths with hot water and steam.

            Francis, with an admiring glance at the mosaic tile floor, explained that he had tested the larger bath capable of accommodating a dozen or more persons, on several occasions."It's not bad.  I rather enjoyed it," said Francis.  "Still, I don't like to make a regular thing of it, as it would use too much of the hotel's hot water."

            Munroe said he had no intention of attempting to put the baths into commercial operation as it be impossible to get enough oil to heat the water.


605 1/2 South Main    Seattle, Washington  98104

Phone: (206) 223-9242      Fax: (206) 624-4957     E-mail:  reservations@panamahotelseattle.com