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Summary for 1626 Boren AVE / Parcel ID 0660001970 / Inv #

Historic Name: Olive Tower Common Name: Olive Tower Apartments
Style: Art Deco, Colonial - Colonial Revival, Commercial, Modern 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 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 property is directly associated with the early twentieth century era (1920-1930) when the modern downtown commercial district was fully established as additional 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, typically designed by leading local architects. During this era, the original residential district was entirely absorbed by commercial and other real estate development. By 1930, virtually all of the old residential properties - as well as many of the immediate post-fire era commercial buildings outside of Pioneer Square - had been demolished or removed. Buildings that provided multiple-family housing in Seattle was not identified or described specifically as “apartment houses” prior to c.1903. During the late nineteenth and well into the twentieth centuries, numerous downtown hotel buildings functioned for long-term residential purposes. By 1905, several small apartment buildings had been constructed and were mingled primarily among the older single family residences located uphill and to the NE of the expanding commercial district. Most apartment construction during this era appears to have been concentrated further uphill along Yesler Way and on First Hill, as well as in burgeoning neighborhoods like Capitol Hill and Queen Anne Hill. As Denny Hill was removed and regraded in phases, small mixed use apartment buildings began to be constructed on the newly regraded lots. By the late 1910s, larger apartment houses had been constructed in the Denny Regrade area to the north of Stewart Street, including some extant examples: the Sheridan Apartments (1914); the Nesika Apartments (Stratford Apartments, 1915); and the Virginian Apartments (1917). During the 1920s, two large apartment hotels were constructed in the commercial core; however, major apartment house construction did not occur. Such development was heavily concentrated in residential neighborhoods, particularly First Hill and Capitol Hill where numerous noteworthy examples from this era remain. The construction of U.S. Interstate 5 severed the physical relationship between the subject building and other similar properties on First Hill. This distinctive Art Deco style apartment building was originally designed and constructed for Paul D. Ford in 1928 at a cost of $325,000. The building was designed to house 74 two-room studio units complete with tile baths, kitchenettes, automatic refrigeration and electric ventilation with reversible fans. The apartments were designed with a particular tenant in mind; one with a desire for low-maintenance, close-in living quarters. The Olive Tower Apartments were designed by notable Seattle architect Earl Morrison. Morrison, who is most well known for Modernistic and Art Deco buildings constructed in the 1920s to 1940s. Morrison began his practice in Spokane and moved to Seattle in 1926. He established himself as one of the foremost apartment building designers in the city with the design of Olive Tower Apartments. He is credited with the design of several noteworthy apartment and commercial buildings, including: the 1227 Spring Street luxury apartments; the Textile Tower (Tower Building) on Seventh Avenue, as well as Grosvenor House, the Normandy, and many other quality First Hill apartment buildings. He died in 1955. The Olive Tower Apartments underwent a $1.1 million dollar renovation in 1984. Funding was provided by the city in order to insure that the building would provide affordable housing units. This building is a well-preserved example of a rare downtown apartment house property type from this era. It is a noteworthy example of the Art Deco style and was designed by an important Seattle architect, Earl Morrison. This property has been formally determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register by the SHPO.
 
Appearance
Prominently located near the SE corner of Boren Avenue and Olive Way this 14-story high-rise apartment building exhibits a two-part vertical block façade composition, Moderne architectural design character and Tudor derived terra cotta ornament. The apartment tower measures 60’x 58’ and includes approximately 77 apartments. A one-story garage wing is located to the east side of the tower and measures approx. 48’x 62ft. The base of the building at the façade (west elevation) is clad with smooth ivory color terra cotta panels capped by an ornamental terra cotta frieze. The entry vestibule is decorated with black and gilded Tudor style medallions, ornate pilasters and “OLIVE TOWER” signage. Additional terra cotta ornament decorates the second story spandrels. The building shaft is clad with a cream color concrete finish at all elevations with the exception of additional ivory terra cotta ornament at the façade cap. The building façade above the base is composed of five narrow central bays flanked by block-like wide corner bays. Continuous central vertical piers with plain recessed spandrels accentuate the façade, extend above the roofline of the side bays an additional story, and are terminated by ornate gilded terra cotta finials. The upper three-stories of the façade shaft are further accentuated by ornamental terra cotta spandrels. Raised central parapet bays and capped piers occur at the center of each elevation forming open roof garden terraces at the building corners and further accentuating the stepped back vertical Moderne building form. Windows are typically original double-hung wood sash (with three-part vertical panes in the upper members) and set in unframed individual openings with the exception of the wider side bays where they are set in pairs. The north and south elevations have limited window openings. Historically, the south elevation included a prominent large “OLIVE TOWER APARTMENTS” painted wall sign. Exterior alterations are limited to minor storefront level window and door alterations. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior public spaces.

Detail for 1626 Boren AVE / Parcel ID 0660001970 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Stone, Stucco, Terra cotta, Wood - Clapboard Foundation(s): Brick, Concrete - Poured, Stone
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet, Gable, Hip Roof Material(s): Unknown, Asphalt/Composition-Shingle, Concrete- Tile
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: fourteen
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Military, Transportation
Integrity
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront:
Changes to Interior: Unknown
:
Other: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, Microfilm Records.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1996.
Courtois, Shirley L. METRO Downtown Seattle Transit Project FEIS Inventory Form, 1984.
"Olive Tower" Washington State Architect, August 1928.
Lentz, Florence, et al. "Historic American Buildings Survey, Fort Lawton." U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service, Pacific Northwest Region, 1981.
Kavanaugh, Major Robert E. "Fort Lawton." National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, January 1978.
Mann, Millegan, Morse and Ramsey. "Fort Lawton Buildings: A Survey and Report, Prepared for City of Seattle Parks and Recreation." August 15, 1975.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District. "Context Study of the United States Quartermaster General Standardized Plans 1866-1942." Report prepared for U.S. Army Environmental Ctr, Envir. Compliance Division, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., Nov. 1997.
Upchurch Architects, Inc. and SLA Studio Land. "Navy Historic Housing Classifications of the Montana Circle, Washington Ave N & Washington Ave S Homes in Fort Lawton." Prepared for Pacific NW Communities, LLC, Nov. 1, 2006.

Photo collection for 1626 Boren AVE / Parcel ID 0660001970 / Inv #


Photo taken Mar 15, 2007

Photo taken Mar 15, 2007

Photo taken May 17, 2006

Photo taken Apr 18, 2006

Photo taken Apr 18, 2006

Photo taken Apr 18, 2006

Photo taken Jul 05, 2006
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