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Summary for 900 1st AVE / Parcel ID 7666206240 / Inv #

Historic Name: Roebling Building Common Name: Roebling Building
Style: Art Deco, Beaux Arts - Neoclassical, Commercial Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1905
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The Roebling Building was originally designed by architects R.C. Kerr and R. D. Rogers and completed in 1905. The builder responsible for the construction was H. D. Stewart. The building housed John A. Roebling and Sons Company, a wholesale distributor of wire, wire rope, barbed wire, wire cloth and netting and nails. It is one of the earliest substantial warehouses constructed this far south of King Street, during a time when the adjacent tidelands were still being filled and industrial development expanded along First Avenue in close proximity to increased railroad and port generated commercial activity. Above the ground floor level, the detailing, in particular, the combination of buff brick with delicate terra cotta ornament, in slightly contrasting color, makes this one of the handsomest buildings south of King Street. The Rogers and Kerr firm was active in Seattle between 1904 and 1907 and designed two fire stations and numerous residences on Queen Anne Hill. The firm also produced a competition design for the Seattle Armory. The base of the First Avenue south façade was designed by architect and engineer Henry Bittman. Drawings at the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development show the design of the current base and date from June 28, 1945. Henry Bittman’s office was responsible for many beautifully designed terra cotta clad buildings in Seattle, particularly in Seattle’s Downtown. When he arrived in Seattle in 1906, he began his career as a bridge designer. In 1907, he started a short-lived partnership with William Kingsley, an architect. By 1908, Bittman had his own engineering practice. He was licensed as an architect in 1923. His office seems to have been especially successful in the 1920s. One the important designers in the firm was Henry Adams, considered responsible for many of the more striking exterior designs and interior spaces produced by the Bittman office. Also among the notable buildings designed by the firm in Seattle, still standing and reasonably intact are: the Terminal Sales Building (ca. 1923), the Decatur Building (1921), the Olympic Tower (ca. 1929), the Eagles Auditorium (1924-25), and the Hubbel Building (1922). Bittman’s initial education focused on structural engineering. He appears to have attended both Cooper Union and Pratt Institute (Brooklyn) in New York and very possibly the Armour Institute in Chicago. He was born in 1882, grew up in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York and died in Seattle in 1953. This building is considered contributing within the City’s portion of the Boundary Increase to the Pioneer Square Historic District, but not as part of the National Register Historic District.
This is a four story building with exterior brick walls. Its major façade along First Avenue South is a two-part composition in buff brick. It has a storefront level with upper floors emphasized by structural piers, topped by Ionic capitals in terra cotta. A delicate terra cotta running band of anthemions (or anthemia) creates a frame around the upper three floors. At the top of the parapet is an ornamental terra cotta band, consisting of a repeated motif of circular rings and leaf shapes. At each floor, the typical upper floor bay consists of pairs of double-hung windows. The main changes to the storefront level were made during the mid-1940s. The original base featured a largely glazed storefront with prism light transoms, a centrally recessed entry and a sign band below the second floor sill. The current ground level is a less dominant base, designed perhaps to be part of the shaft of the building, rather than contrast with it. It features wide, rectangular window openings, in addition to glass block panels set to each side of the central entrance and the word “ROEBLING” incised in a slightly blocky version of Art Deco lettering. The area below the windows and surrounding door and window openings is mainly faced in beige cast-stone with a slightly pink cast, but within the composition, particularly at the edge of the façade and over the openings, buff brick and bands of the same cast stone occur in alternating bands. Although from the late 1940s, the detailing and composition of the base has an affinity with Art Deco work of the late 1920s, but mysteriously fits in with the design of the top floors.

Detail for 900 1st AVE / Parcel ID 7666206240 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Glass - Glass Block, Stone - Cast, Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: four
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, Microfilm Records.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 27 November 1904.
Krafft, Katheryn Hills. “Pioneer Square – Skid Road Historic District (Boundary Increase).” submitted 15 December, 1987 and approved 6 May, 1988.

Photo collection for 900 1st AVE / Parcel ID 7666206240 / Inv #

Photo taken Jul 26, 2004

Photo taken Jul 26, 2004
App v2.0.1.0