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Summary for 1915 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1977201055 / Inv #

Historic Name: White Garage Common Name: Downtown Mini Storage
Style: Spanish - Eclectic Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1928
 
Significance
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This property is also associated with the early twentieth century era (1920-1930) when the modern downtown commercial district was fully established as additional high-rise commercial buildings were built. The economic prosperity of the 1920s stimulated the development of numerous major high-rise commercial buildings, as well as smaller-scale bank and specialty retail stores, major hotels including apartment hotels, club buildings and entertainment facilities designed by leading local architects. The regrading of Denny Hill and the commercial redevelopment of the former University Grounds (University/ Metropolitan Tract) were major factors that facilitated northward and eastward commercial expansion. In 1919, when the new Frederick and Nelson Department Store opened at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, the location of the future downtown retail core was solidified. Beginning in the mid-1910s, the use of private automobiles changed the way downtown Seattle functioned. Surface parking lots – many of which included a small gas station building - became a part of the commercial core or were located nearby on its periphery. By mid-1920s, large parking garages – some that could store hundreds of automobiles – were a lucrative and essential part of downtown commerce. During the 1920s, due to lower property values to the north of Virginia Street and close proximity to the commercial, entertainment and retail core numerous parking lots, garages and service centers were constructed in the vicinity of this property. This distinctive terra cotta clad building appears to have been constructed in 1928 for William E. Grimshaw and was designed by a particularly prolific architect during this era, Henry Bittman. At six stories it appears to be one of the tallest and largest to be built during this era. It was designed as a fireproof garage and was initially used entirely for automobile storage purposes utilizing two automatic car lifts. However, by 1951 the building had been purchased by the Bon Marche and was in use as a “Budget House” annex to the nearby department store. The building interior appears to have been extensively remodeled for this use and the original open automobile entry and exit bays were enclosed with the construction of storefront display windows and doors. In 1954, after the Bon Marche added three stories to its elegant 1929 building, the building was sold and subsequently remodeled again in 1969. It has been used for warehouse storage purposes for the last three decades. Henry Bittman and his firm were responsible for the design of numerous highly distinctive terra cotta clad buildings in Seattle, including several constructed in downtown Seattle during the 1920s. Bittman was born in the early 1880s and grew up in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His initial education focused on structural engineering. When he arrived in Seattle in 1906, he worked as a bridge designer and in 1907, entered into a short-lived partnership with Seattle architect William Kingsley. By 1908, Bittman had established his own engineering and architectural practice; however, he was not licensed as an architect until 1923 after which his firm was particularly successful. A highly important designer in the firm was Henry Adams. Adams worked with Bittman continuously after c.1908 and was responsible for many of the more striking building exteriors and interior spaces produced by the firm. In addition to the nearby Terminal Sales Building (1923), among the other highly notable, extant Seattle projects designed by the Bittman firm are: the Decatur Building (1921); the Olympic Tower (c. 1929); the Eagles Auditorium (1924-25); the Hubbel Building (1922); and the 1929-1931 addition to the King County Courthouse. Distinctive nearby office and commercial buildings designed by the firm include: the Centennial Building (1925); the Securities Building additions (1924, 1948); and possibly the – yet to be verified - Standard Clock and Suit Building (1925), as well as the heavily altered Securities Market Building (1929). This is a relatively well preserved example of a commercial parking garage and an important downtown property type designed by a highly notable and prolific Seattle architect, Henry Bittman. Other extant downtown garage buildings include: Donohoe Garage (1907 3rd Avenue, 1921 – altered interior); Grand Central Garage (719 4th Avenue, 1919); the Second Avenue (Northwest Building Company) Garage (1915 2nd Avenue, 1926); and the Grand Opera House that was converted for garage use in 1923. This property apears to meet local landmark criteria as part of a cohesive group of four generally intact commercial buildings situated on the west side of the 1900 block of Third Avenue including: the Donahoe Garage (1916), White Garage (1928), Kelley-Gorham Building (1910) and Heiden Building (c.1914).
 
Appearance
Prominently located mid-block on the west side of Third Avenue between Stewart and Virginia Streets, this six-story building was designed and constructed to serve as a parking garage and is presently used as a mini-storage facility. It measures 60’ x 108’ and exhibits a distinctive two-part vertical block façade composition finely executed and decorated with Spanish Eclectic style motifs. The reinforced concrete structure with concrete foundation and basement is clad with terra cotta; cream color at the base and piers and beige-taupe ornament at the spandrels and cap of the façade. The façade is divided vertically between three bays and horizontally between the base and shaft. The vertical bays are accentuated by four wide piers that extend to the roofline and narrow interstitial piers within the three bays that correspond to the tripartite window configuration. The bays are divided horizontally at the upper three floor levels by recessed spandrels decorated with fluted patterns and small medallions. The base is distinguished by a broad band of terra cotta ornament surmounting the second floor level windows. Raised piers are capped by a broad foliated frieze with engaged finials at each pier above the second floor level windows. The base is further accentuated by a broad ornamental cap above the storefront openings. The building shaft is accentuated by shoulder arched window heads at the sixth floor level and terminated by an elaborate foliated ornamental cap decorated with a scalloped edge and raised central scalloped pediment. The building cap ornament is aligned with the major and interstitial piers below. Side walls are painted ordinary brick masonry with limited window openings. The original upper floor level windows have been replaced with modern aluminum windows dissimilar to the original fixed and pivoting wooden sash. The second and third floor level windows appear to be a modern window product similar to the original sash. The storefront openings appear to have been repeatedly remodeled and do not include any historic building fabric. A large truck entry bay and prominent neon sign have been installed at the center of the building base. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1915 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1977201055 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Transportation
Integrity
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Inventory Field Form, Office of Urban Conservation, 1979.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.

Photo collection for 1915 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1977201055 / Inv #


Photo taken May 24, 2006
App v2.0.1.0