Garretson Woodruff & Pratt (GWP)

Garretson Woodruff & Pratt building

Physical address

1754 Pacific Avenue [map]

Do not send mail to this address. The mailing address for all UW Tacoma offices is 1900 Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA 98402-3100.

Offices and services
Office Room
Academic Advising Center GWP 102
Academic Affairs GWP 312
Chancellor, Office of the GWP 312
Equity & Diversity, Office of GWP 308
International Programs GWP 102
Undergraduate Education, Office of GWP 102
University Book Store GWP 001
Classrooms and academic space
Space Room
Classroom GWP 101
Classroom GWP 212
Classroom GWP 216
Classroom GWP 220
Meeting and event space
Space Room
Conference room GWP 215
Tacoma Room GWP 320

History

Built 1891 / Renovated 1995

The coming of the Northern Pacific Railroad to Tacoma, the western terminus of the transcontinental line, brought a population explosion, rapid prosperity, and a building frenzy to the city. Tacoma’s population grew from about 1,000 in 1880 to more than 36,000 a decade later. In 1887, the city issued only 350 building permits. Just three years later, more than 1,700 buildings were permitted. 

The optimism and excitement of the economic boom of the late 1880s and early 1900s is reflected in this building, designed by Frederick A. Saxton. Built in a Romanesque style with obsidian pressed brick and terra-cotta trim, the detailing is some of the best in the district. When it was new, a grand staircase offered views of Mount Rainier from the landings. 

Because of the severely steep hillside, commercial buildings in the “jobbers” district tended to have multiple stories and were equipped with electric elevators. Their finely decorated storefronts faced Pacific Avenue, while their backs, were plain and practical. Goods were delivered to the backs of the buildings on the second floor from the railroad spur that ran along Commerce Street.

Garretson Woodruff Pratt sold dry goods here, the only such store in the state at the time to deal exclusively in the wholesale trade. By 1892 the company’s customers spread from Washington to Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. But, like many successful businesses of its day, the company failed during the economic Panic of 1893.

Today, gray paving bricks in the walkway mark the railroad spur’s path. The covered walkway that runs along the back of this building and those adjoining it replicates the loading docks that once received raw goods and materials from the train cars. Moore Ruble Yudell of Santa Monica, California, with associated architects LMN Architects of Seattle, designed the 1995 renovation of these four connected buildings for the university.

 

Building maps

First floor
GWP Level 1 map

Second floor
GWP Level 2 map

Third floor
GWP Level 3 map

Fourth floor
GWP 4th floor map