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Summary for 4909 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1702901760 / Inv #

Historic Name: Hepler Block Common Name:
Style: Vernacular Neighborhood: Columbia City
Built By: Year Built: 1908
The two story brick Hepler Block was built in 1906 by Christopher R. “Ras” Hepler. The building originally had three storefronts. The second floor advertised furnished rooms for rent and also was the location of doctors and dentists offices. The northernmost storefront was the location of the Princess Movie Theatre during the teens. The center storefront was the location of Brassington’s Meat Market (1906), McKinley’s Barber Shop (1911), R. Almquist, Plumbing and Heating (1920s), and the Rainier Valley Times (1936). 4911, the southernmost storefront, was a branch office of the Seattle Lighting Company (1911) and the Columbia Station Post Office (1916). In 1941 the whole building was acquired for Halverson’s Dime Store, and the upstairs was used as storage. A metal marquis was added across the front of the building after 1937. Alterations in 1940 were designed by Charles Haynes, a well-known Seattle architect. The Hepler family was early settlers in Columbia City. Alexander and Sophronia Hepler came to Columbia City from Iowa soon after the town was established in 1891. Their son, Christopher R. Hepler was a carpenter, builder and electrician, and owner of the Hepler Block. Alexander Hepler was a judge for Columbia City before Seattle annexed it in 1907. The first family home and business had been at the northwest corner of Rainier Avenue S. and S. Ferdinand Streets. The residence, built circa 1894 by Alexander H. Hepler, was one of the few buildings along the commercial strip during the first 10 years of the town’s existence. It was torn down to make way for the Rainier Valley Investment Company building located at 4871-4875 Rainier Avenue South in 1913. The subject building is significant as a well-preserved example of a turn-of-the-century mixed-use commercial building. Known as the Hepler Block, it is also significant for its association with the Hepler family, early residents of Columbia City and owners of one of the neighborhoods first grocery stores.
This two story commercial vernacular building is of masonry construction and is supported by a concrete foundation. The building has a rectangular plan and a flat roof with a cornice. The southeast corner of building is truncated to accommodate a corner window display. The building is clad in brick with wood and Carrera glass trim. The fenestration consists of one-over-one single hung windows. The windows are evenly spaced and have arched brick window surrounds. A simple modillioned cornice runs directly beneath the windows. In the 1930s the original three storefronts, and the entry to the upper floor, were combined into a single storefront. Expansive plate glass windows now flank a central inset entrance. A flat metal canopy was added below transom windows. Although the storefront has undergone extensive alterations, the 1930s renovation remains intact.

Detail for 4909 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1702901760 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Glass - Carrera/Vitrolite, Wood Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Centennial History, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, 1853-1991, Pioneers of Columbia City. Seattle, Washington, 1992.

Photo collection for 4909 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1702901760 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 22, 2004
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