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Summary for 1414 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 7666202405 / Inv #

Historic Name: Schwabacher Warehouse Common Name: Market Square/ 1414 Alaskan Wat/ 1415 Western Avenue
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1910
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Although not sufficiently intact to be considered by itself for the National Register of Historic Places or as a City of Seattle landmark, this building is of historical and architectural interest. It appears to have been initially designed for the Schwabacher Brothers by the architecture firm of Saunders and Lawton and completed in 1910, although the King County Tax Assessor’s records give an earlier date of 1893. Records of the Saunders and Lawton drawings from 1909-1910 exist, while there do not appear to be any drawings or records from 1893. In addition, a Baist Map from 1908 does not show the building or the lot as being developed, whereas a 1912 Baist Map shows the building and identifies it as the “Schwabacher Warehouse.” In any case, architect Louis Mendel produced additional drawings for a major exterior remodel in September 1916. Based on these drawings, the design of the present Western Avenue façade, particularly above the ground level, appears to be mainly the handiwork of Louis Mendel, and was completed in 1917. An early photo, dating from around the late 1920s or possibly the 1930s, shows that at this time, the building also featured several large painted signs. Two signs, one painted over the ground floor on Western Avenue and the other on the top of the south elevation, read “Schwabacher Bros. Co. Inc. Warehouse No. 2.” This signage, as well as other painted advertisements on the south elevation, has since been removed, but, based on Mendel’s drawings and this photo, the main Western elevation has changed little. While the Western Avenue (eastern) elevation has not changed markedly, the Alaskan Way elevation, as well as the interior of the building, has been subject to quite a few modifications over the years. Structural repair was performed on three columns in the basement, based on structural analysis and drawings by Ratti Swenson and Perbix. This was completed in 1981. This was around the same time that the ground level, or a portion of the ground level interior, was modified for a restaurant, “the Silk Cactus and Cantina,” probably accessed from Alaskan Way. In the late 1970s, the major design changes were made to the western, Alaskan Way elevation. These were based on 1977 drawings by the architecture firm of Charles Kober and Associates. At that time, although the Western Avenue façade remained comparatively intact, glazing was replaced, a canopy over the ground level was demolished, and apparently a rolling door, located to the north of the main doorway, was also removed. Based on the historical photo from around the late 1920s (or 1930s), there was no rolling door or any opening of this kind and the only other opening was the small segmental opening, which remains today. Also in the 1970s, on the interior, existing wood partitions were removed at the second, third, fourth and fifth floors. Subsequent changes included the addition of a new canopy on the Western Avenue façade, a modern, but sympathetic addition, based on the September 1990 drawings by Donald Carlson Architect. Around 1997, Bumgardner Architects also made changes, but mainly to the interior of the building. While the western, Alaskan Way elevation has been significantly altered and windows have been added to the southern elevation, the important detailing of the Western Avenue façade, as designed by Louis Mendel, remains. Louis Mendel was an important architect, who made major contributions to Seattle architecture. In addition, the building was originally designed by Saunders and Lawton, another Seattle architecture firm of note. Also, the building has an important association with Schwabacher Brothers and the Schwabacher Family. Finally, the building and particularly its eastern façade, stand out in the context of Western Avenue. For all these reasons, in the opinion of this surveyor, the building, although not necessarily eligible for listing on the National Register, is historically significant within the context of Western Avenue and the larger Central Waterfront area. Following is additional information concerning Louis Mendel, the Schwabacher Brothers, as well as Saunders and Lawton. Louis Leonard Mendel, who was later associated with the well-known Seattle firm of Bebb and Mendel, was born in 1867 in Mayen, Germany. After his move to the United States in 1882, he worked in the architecture offices of Lehman and Schmidt and then for the Schweinfurth Brothers. Both firms were located in Cleveland, Ohio. He may have also worked for Adler and Sullivan in Chicago. Mendel moved to the West Coast around 1886. After 1889, his name is associated with a series of architectural partnerships, both in Tacoma and in Seattle. Around 1899, Mendel was working as a draftsman for Charles Bebb and later formed a very successful partnership with Bebb, which lasted until 1914. Among the many gems designed by Bebb and Mendel, the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building (First Avenue South and Jackson St) features elements that were later echoed in Mendel’s design for this building. These include the corbelling at the top of the façade and vertical recessed bays, consisting of pairs of windows at each floor. Schwabacher Brothers was an important client for Bebb and Mendel, who designed not only the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building, as well as a neighboring annex. (Both buildings are located on or close to First Avenue South and Jackson St, within the Pioneer Square National Register Historic District). A leading supplier of dry goods during the Klondike gold rush, the Schwabacher Brothers had been important in Seattle since 1869. They commissioned other buildings in Seattle’s greater downtown, including the Schwabacher Building (designed by Elmer Fisher and Emil DeNeuf, 1889 and 1892) at First Avenue South and Yesler Way and the State Building at Occidental Avenue South and Main Street (Elmer Fisher, 1890). The Saunders and Lawton partnership was formed by architects Charles Saunders and George Lawton in 1898. Among other buildings, the firm designed multi-story warehouse buildings. Most of these buildings are characterized by street facing elevations, composed according to a base, shaft and capital arrangement and feature repeated, recessed bays, which include vertical rows of two to four window openings. Many of the extant examples, such as the Polson Building or the Norton Building, can be found in the Pioneer Square area and date from around the early 1910s. Although the Western Avenue façade of 1414 Alaskan Way/ 1415 Western Avenue was clearly modified by Louis Mendel, the basic arrangement is also consistent with the design of such warehouses by Saunders and Lawton.
This four story building is sited mid-block between Pike Street and Union Street and between Western Avenue and Alaskan Way. The building footprint is 60 feet by 120 feet, with the shorter dimension parallel to the street. Exterior walls are of solid brick construction, while the interior structure, still very visible, is of heavy timber post and beam construction. Brick corbelling is used in a variety of subtle configurations as ornament and to mark bay divisions. There is a main east façade along Western Avenue, as well as a modernized western elevation along Alaskan Way. While the south façade is now visible from the street, it was originally not meant to be so. Regularly spaced window openings have been added and were not part of the early design of the building. The Western Avenue façade is more or less divided into five, three-story bays, set above the first story level. The most central of the bays, all of which are recessed, features three stories of paired window openings. The flanking bays are characterized by a single opening at each floor. The recessed bays are surmounted by corbelling, which is subtly tied into the main plane of the façade by a horizontal row of header bricks. Reinforcing the bay divisions, are wider, protruding, corbelled elements, which descend from the top of the parapet level. The corbelled elements are set between the fenestrated bays. Well-spaced pairs of corbelled elements of the same design mark the top of expanses of brick wall, which flank the fenestrated bays. Between the larger corbelled elements, there is a continuous and more delicate corbel band, which marks the top of the parapet. Typically windows are two over two double-hung windows, replaced in kind and in keeping with architect Louis Mendel’s design. Lintel and sill levels are marked by single rows of header bricks. At the bottom of the second story, between the window bays, there is a continuous course of header bricks, which line up with those of the recessed second story sills, creating the sense of a continuous header course. This surmounts a lower and truly continuous header course, which runs the length of the façade. Just above the wide central doorway are four continuous corbelled courses, which also run the length of the facade: the lowest course consists of stretcher bricks, which is surmounted by a course of header bricks. These are topped by two stretcher courses. Based on photos and original drawings, the wide central opening is original, although doorway hardware and the overhead awning date from the early 1990s. Smaller window openings to each side of the main doorway have been visibly filled in with brick, although a small segmental arched opening is set at the south side of the doorway, close to the edge of the façade; however, based on historical photos, the façade openings at the ground level are also in keeping with the building’s appearance in the late 1920s or 1930s. Because of a level change from east to west, the western Alaskan Way elevation reveals two additional levels below what would be considered the ground level on Western Avenue. At the five tops floors, the location of the window openings remains the same as that in Mendel’s design, which featured four unequally spaced openings per floor. As in Mendel’s drawings, the two northern window openings are well-spaced and the two southern openings pushed closer together. The façade, however, although in brick, has been reclad more recently (in the 1970s). Mendel’s drawing suggests that a corbelled parapet, similar to that which remains on the Western Avenue façade, topped the elevation. This has been replaced by new horizontal brickwork and a central raised parapet, with a rectangular shape. There is a glazed semi-circular element set within the raised portion of the parapet. New glazing in the fenestration below (the second vertical row of windows), includes a false arched element, set in the transoms of each the windows. The lowest “basement level” below once featured four loading dock entrances, set above a platform. This has been replaced by modern storefront and glazing, with a series of steps leading up to the glazed area above and additional steps to another level below. The north elevation, as in the case of the south elevation,originally not meant to be seen from the street, retains its original cladding and whatever detailing the elevation had; although regularly spaced windows, in keeping with the Western Avenue façade, have been added.

Detail for 1414 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 7666202405 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Community Planning/Development, Transportation
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Ochsner, Jeffrey and Dennis Andersen. Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and The Legacy of H. H. Richardson. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004.
Baist, William. Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Seattle, Wash. Philadelphia: W. G. Baist, 1905, 1908, 1912 and 1928.
Sanborn Map Company. Insurance Maps of Seattle, Washington. (New York, Sanborn Map Company, 1904-1905) 4 volumes.

Photo collection for 1414 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 7666202405 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 09, 2006

Photo taken Feb 09, 2006
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