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Summary for 2331-33 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0655000045 / Inv #

Historic Name: MGM/Loews Common Name: Blu Canary
Style: Art Deco Neighborhood: Belltown
Built By: Year Built: 1936
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This is the most architecturally interesting and most intact of the local film distribution buildings. This small Art Deco building was constructed in the 1930 for the Alexander Myers Company. From 1936 until the 1950s it was the regional film distribution center for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the most prominent motion picture studios. It later distributed Loew’s films as well. After the studios moved across the street about 1960, it was occupied by an insurance company, whose name replaced the words Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on the façade. It is now a card shop and small restaurant. The reinforced concrete building was designed by a San Francisco architect, Edmund W. Denle. Interior alterations were made in 1941 by Bjorne Moe, a prominent local theater designer. Further interior alterations were made in 1960 to adapt it to office use from the specialized needs of film distribution. From the 1920s until the 1960s, Belltown was the center of the film industry in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle was a major film center, more than fifty theaters in the 1920-40s, and more than 400 in the state. All the major studios and many smaller ones had distribution centers, called film exchanges, in Belltown. Films were shipped by rail from Los Angeles, and were shipped from here to local theaters in Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana by truck, ship, rail or auto. Each distributor had salesmen who would preview the films and go on the road to describe the new releases to theater owners. Many theater owners came here themselves to view the films and select the ones they wanted to feature. “Film Row” originated at 3rd and Lenora, but moved to the 2nd and Battery vicinity in the mid-1920s. The major film exchange buildings, built in 1928, were across from this site at 1st and Battery, now the location of Belltown Court condominium. These buildings housed Columbia, Warner's, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and many others. Others built their own film exchanges, such as the MGM/Loew’s building at Second and Battery. They included special vaults to store the highly flammable nitrate film, and often had small theaters to screen the films. Surrounding buildings included theater furnishing suppliers, poster companies and other supporting businesses. Nearby was the Lorraine Hotel (now the William Tell), where many in the film industry stayed on their business trips. In 1952 the payroll on Film Row alone was estimated at more than $1,000,000, not including profits from theaters, equipment or advertising.
The Art Deco exterior of this building remains highly intact, with buff colored brick cladding and unusual black terra cotta ornamentation. The Art Deco motifs include arrow-topped pilasters at each end of the façade and flanking the center part of the stepped parapet, and medallions along the parapet, which has terra cotta coping. The transoms above the center entry and the flanking display windows have terra cotta surrounds. Doors along the north elevation reflect the seven original film storage vaults, required because the highly-flamable nitrate film stock required careful storage and handling. Windows throughout have the original metal industrial sash.

Detail for 2331-33 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0655000045 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, Microfilm Records.

Photo collection for 2331-33 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0655000045 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 18, 2007
App v2.0.1.0