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Summary for 633 Post AVE / Parcel ID 8591400100 / Inv #

Historic Name: New Post Station, Seattle Steam Company Common Name: New Post Station, Seattle Steam Company
Style: Italian - Italian Renaissance, Other - Utilitarian Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1902
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Along with the adjacent Old Post Station, this is one of the last working remnants of the original industrial fabric of the Pioneer Square Skid Road National Historic District. The building was built between 1900 and 1902 by Stone & Webster, the Boston based utility company. Founded in 1889 by Charles A. Stone and Edwin Webster, both graduates of MIT in electrical engineering, the company was originally called the Massachusetts Electrical Company. The firm began by managing utility plants in 1895. By 1902, it had begun financing them through an in-house securities department and actually constructing them; therefore this Seattle Steam Plant must be among the company’s earliest efforts and certainly one of their earliest enterprises in Seattle. Stone and Webster had, in fact, maintained a significant presence in King County since 1898, when it had acquired the region’s first hydroelectric plant at Snoqualmie Falls and its subsidiary, the Seattle Electric Company, took control of Seattle area utilities, as well as the local street car lines. The building has been in continuous use as a steam plant. In terms of function, the interior of the building was designed to maximize the use of gravity in the movement of coal. Coal came into the building through “Hell’s alley,” located at the southwest corner of the building. From there, it moved to the eastern portion of the building and was raised by a conveyor to the roof, where it was emptied into a covered roof monitor and moved in a north-south direction. From the roof monitor, the coal would be dropped into the coal bunkers below and then from the coal bunkers to the “water-tube” boilers. The plant also produced electricity for the streetcars, which had been operating in Seattle, since before the Great Fire, thanks to two battery rooms, one in the basement and one at the penthouse level. The building still provides steam to most of Pioneer Square and to other areas of Seattle, from Pioneer Square roughly up to Harvard Avenue to the east and between Blanchard Street to the north and King Street to the south. High pressure steam lines provide steam to areas east of Interstate-5, while low pressure lines are used to provide steam to Seattle’s downtown and west of the I-5. The fact that this is still a working steam plant, in itself, is significant, since similar buildings throughout the United States have frequently been converted to other uses The Neo-Renaissance composition, particularly of the original five bays along Western Avenue, is especially striking. In addition, the smokestack, which is visible in many parts of Pioneer Square and Downtown Seattle, is an important visual marker within the city. In the context of American urban history, this building is typical of power production buildings associated with industrial growth at the turn of the twentieth century and is similar to several other industrial buildings produced by and administered by Stone & Webster or its subsidiaries in this period The top floor is not shown in the original drawings, but appears to have been added at the end of construction in 1902. The northern bay, corresponding to the hoistway and one of the battery rooms, was apparently added in 1935. Both the later date of design and construction and the functional aspects of the interior account for differences between it and the symmetrically composed Neo-Renaissance elements of the earlier part of the façade; but stylistically, the difference between the two parts of the façade is not jarring. Aside from the 1935 addition and an enlargement of a door to accommodate the installation of a new generator, later filled back in, the building’s exterior appearance has been not been altered since 1902. This five story building adjoins the more utilitarian one story Old Post Station, also associated with the Steam Plant at 619 Post Avenue.
The Seattle Steam Company Post Street Plant, also known as Seattle Steam’s New Post Station is a striking Neo-Renaissance industrial building located between Post Avenue and Western Avenue and adjacent to Seattle Steam’s Old Post Station. The building is rectangular in plan and rises five stories, thanks to a steel and cross-braced frame and additional structural elements of steel and concrete. The main west elevation, facing Western Avenue, is divided into six bays, five of which are identical. The standard vertical bay consists of basement level windows set in a rusticated sandstone base, above which is a sandstone belt course. A long trabeated three-lite window opening occurs at the second floor, then a similar window arrangement at the third level topped by a clerestory level semi-circular window, also divided into three lites. This is topped by another sandstone belt course and then a grouping of three smaller arched windows at the fourth floor. The spandrel above the fourth floor windows is topped by a metal ornamental band, (which runs the length of the elevation), distinguished by a band of bead motifs and further up the wall, a more classically detailed metal cornice, including dentils and projecting modillions. Vertical bands of brick beginning at the first level belt course and topped by arched forms emphasize the verticality of the bays. The top level of this typical bay has three small rectangular windows. The parapet is marked by a thinner metal band and then, at the very top, a simple metal projecting cornice In contrast, the north bay, which is slightly recessed, has a small single window more or less corresponding to each level, with an arched window at the fourth floor, at the same height as the grouping of three windows in the typical bay. This configuration corresponds with the hoistway on the interior of the building, which was used to move batteries to an upper battery room. The east façade along Post Avenue has architectural elements similar to the main Western Avenue façade, except that there are no window openings at the second level and the elevation is divided into six similar bays. The ninety foot west and east façades are topped by a seventy foot smoke stack with a masonry base, an exact replica of the originals, noticeable from many parts of Pioneer Square and Downtown Seattle. The roof monitor has been removed and there is a corrugated metal door on the west elevation, which is clearly not original. Aside from these changes, the building is surprisingly intact. This is also true on the interior of the building.

Detail for 633 Post AVE / Parcel ID 8591400100 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Metal, Stone Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Energy Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Braced Frame No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Manufacturing/Industry, Science & Engineering
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Interior: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
Crowley, Walt. "Interurban Rail Transit in King County and the Puget Sound Region." HistoryLink
Robertson, Amanda. "An Investigation of Post Avenue Steam Plants." Report for URBDP 586. U of Washington, 2003.
Stickney & Murphy Architects. "New Post Station, Seattle Steam Company, 633 Post Avenue, Historic Certification Application, Part 1." 17 April 1997.

Photo collection for 633 Post AVE / Parcel ID 8591400100 / Inv #

Photo taken Jun 08, 2004

Photo taken Jul 26, 2004

Photo taken Jul 26, 2004
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