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Summary for 39th AVE / Parcel ID 7577700320 / Inv # SPU016

Historic Name: SW Charleston Street Standpipe Common Name:
Style: Other - Industrial Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1927
The Seattle Water Department constructed this 1,000,000-gallon standpipe in 1927 in order to replace nine wooden tanks on the same site with a combined capacity of 450,000 gallons. In 1909, the Water Department acquired the site at 40th Avenue SW and SW Charleston Street and built six 50,000-gallon wood tanks over the next year and three more in 1918, as the demand for additional storage increased. The tanks were supplied by the reservoirs on Beacon Hill after their completion in 1911. Around the same time, an additional 50,000-gallon wooden tank had also been erected for emergency purposes on SW Thistle Street between 37th and 39th Avenues SW. In 1919, a new 500,000-gallon steel tank was constructed at 36th Avenue SW and SW Myrtle Street. By the early 1920s, it was apparent that West Seattle had the poorest and most unreliable water supply of any portion of the city more than ten years after its 1907 annexation. The Water Department began a program of improvement in order to give West Seattle an adequate and reliable supply of Cedar River water. This included a tunnel under the West Waterway near Michigan Street, new steel water mains, two new standpipes for low and intermediate service, and a new pump station at 6th Avenue SW and SW Kenyon Street. By 1927, a new 1,000,000-gallon intermediate service standpipe had been constructed at 39th Avenue SW and SW Charleston Street on the lot adjacent to the east of the existing wooden tanks. The new standpipe doubled the previous storage capacity on the site and provided more pressure throughout the district supplied by the standpipe lying east and west of California Avenue SW. Once the new standpipe was put into service, the older tanks were demolished. It complemented the new low service standpipe located at 38th Avenue SW and SW Barton Street near the southwestern limits of the city. The 1,400,000-gallon standpipe was also completed in 1927. This assortment of storage facilities supplied all of West Seattle’s water until 1932 when the 68,000,000-million gallon West Seattle Reservoir was completed at 8th Avenue SW and SW Trenton Street. This was almost twenty years after the Water Department had acquired a large tract of land for the reservoir, one of two planned for West Seattle. The SW Charleston Street Standpipe is significant for its association with the growth and development of the Seattle water system.
Situated on a slight rise, this 1,000,000-gallon steel standpipe is located on a large corner lot at the intersection of SW Charleston Street and 39th Avenue SW. Across the alley to the west, a mostly vacant lot was converted to a small neighborhood park by People First. Bolted to a circular concrete foundation with large bolts, the standpipe appears to be comprised of eight horizontal bands of steel plates with no visible rivet patterns, creating a nearly seamless exterior. A ladder on the western side extends to the standpipe’s distinctive curved domed roof constructed of wedge-shaped sections of steel plate. Originally, this standpipe was identical in appearance to the 1924-25 Woodland Park Standpipe with twelve horizontal bands of riveted steel plates below a conical metal roof with a slight overhang and a small ball finial at its peak. Later alterations changed the appearance of the roof and the exterior of the standpipe. Encircled by a concrete path, the standpipe has various locked hatches at the ground level. Painted with a distinctive rain cloud scheme, this steel standpipe has been a prominent feature in the local neighborhood as well as many parts of the West Seattle Peninsula since its construction in 1927.

Detail for 39th AVE / Parcel ID 7577700320 / Inv # SPU016

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Structure District Status:
Cladding(s): Metal Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Other Roof Material(s): Metal
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Waterworks Plan: Other
Structural System: Steel No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Science & Engineering
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Other: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
McWilliams, Mary. Seattle Water Department History, 1854-1954: Operational Data and Memoranda. Seattle, WA: Water Department, City of Seattle, c1955.
Seattle Water Department. Annual report / City of Seattle, Water Department. Seattle, WA: 1908-1965.

Photo collection for 39th AVE / Parcel ID 7577700320 / Inv # SPU016

Photo taken Nov 04, 2000
App v2.0.1.0