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Summary for 2021 9th AVE / Parcel ID 0660000585 / Inv # SPL002

Historic Name: S.L. Savidge Inc. Common Name: Washington Talking Book & Braille Library
Style: Art Deco - Streamline Moderne Neighborhood: Denny Triangle
Built By: Year Built: 1948
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.
S.L. Savidge Inc. constructed this building in 1947-48 as a new showroom and garage for its Plymouth and Dodge dealership. Samuel Leigh "S.L." Savidge founded this dealership in 1926 when he became a Dodge distributor for Western Washington and Alaska. Savidge had previously worked as an automobile salesman in Portland and had operated a dealership in the Midwest. The Savidge dealership was originally located at 1401 Broadway, then the heart of Seattle’s first auto row, in a building constructed in 1917-1918 for a Sunset Motor Car dealership. After the first automobile arrived in Seattle in 1900, the increasing popularity of the automobile resulted in the creation of the city’s first auto row over the next decade. However, this first auto row did not develop along a major thoroughfare with the linear alignment that is better known today. Centered in the area around Pike and Pine Streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue, this auto row developed in a multi-block area adjacent to early streetcar routes in a previously residential neighborhood of modest single-family dwellings. The area’s proximity to the wealthy residents of Capitol Hill made this the center for automobile sales, accessories, repairs, used autos and wholesale automotive equipment until the 1930s. Many new buildings were constructed for the manufacturing, distribution and repair of automobiles. By the time of Henry Ford’s 1909 visit during his trip to Seattle for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the concentration of auto-related businesses in this vicinity had earned it the nickname of "Auto Row." By the 1930s, new auto rows had begun to develop elsewhere in the city. Beginning in the 1920s, Westlake Avenue between Lake Union and the downtown commercial district became the one of the city’s premier places to purchase an automobile. Taking advantage of the larger parcels of land available, dealers built new and larger showrooms in the latest styles along the busy thoroughfare, creating a true auto row. Additional land became available with the completion of the third and final phase of the Denny Regrade in December 1930. In the mid-1940s, the S.L. Savidge Realty Company purchased a large parcel of land on Ninth Avenue between Lenora and Virginia Streets and constructed this large building in 1947-48. The architect is not known at this time. By 1948, the city directory lists the dealership in this location, which featured a showroom for new and used vehicles, offices, a garage and repair facility, and a warehouse for parts. Although S.L. Savidge retired in 1972, the dealership operated in this location through the end of the 1970s. It appears that the building was largely vacant for several years before the City of Seattle acquired it in the early 1980s for use as a new library for the blind. The Seattle Public Library receives funding from the Washington State Library Commission to administer the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library. Before moving to this location in September of 1983, the library for blind had housed its collections in several locations over the years, including the lower level of the Henry Branch Library on Capitol Hill and the King County Administration Building. With its classic Streamline Moderne design elements, this large distinctive building is significant for its design and for its associations with the automobile industry in Seattle.
Completed in 1948, this reinforced concrete building occupies a large corner parcel at the intersection of 9th Avenue and Virginia Street. The one and two-story former auto dealership has a rectangular plan, which measures 120 feet by 240 feet. The building’s Streamline Moderne stylistic details include a flat roof, a curved northeast corner, a smooth stucco exterior, a strong horizontal emphasis with banded surfaces and windows, and a considerable use of glass blocks. Lines incised in the stucco exterior create a paneled appearance. On the east and north elevations, the solid massing of the upper story contrasts with the transparency of the recessed lower story lined with large plate glass windows. Concrete pillars support the overhanging upper story. At the midpoint of the upper floor, a wide window band extends the full length of the north elevation and continues along the northern half of the east elevation. Expanses of glass block separated by metal mullions fill the upper two-thirds of the opening above narrow pivot windows along the bottom third. The southern end of the east elevation has two large vehicle openings with overhead metal doors under a sign on the façade, which reads "MOBILE SERVICES." South of center, a pier rises up the façade and extends above the roof to form a sign tower, which is fully integrated into the design. This striking vertical feature accentuates the strong horizontality of the building. Individual pivot windows with heavy molding surrounds are set in rows of three and cover the walls on either side of this pier. Within the recessed ground floor level, the full-length plate glass windows have concrete bulkheads. A recessed opening at the northern end of the east elevation contains double entrance doors. The plate glass windows at the northeast corner form a curved glass wall below a sign on the sign, which reads "WASHINGTON TALKING BOOK & BRAILLE LIBRARY." On the north elevation, the narrow concrete wall to the west of this curved wall contains a single large window. The plate glass windows along the rest of the elevation cant outwards behind a concrete planter lining the sidewalk. A recessed area at the far western end of the north elevation contains a flight of stairs, which lead up to a landing with an entrance into the glass enclosed lower story. The rear west elevation has a variety of window openings at slightly different levels. Some contain the original multi-paned sash while others have modern replacements. The roof of the building has a large parking lot. Examination of historic photographs indicates that the ground floor entrances have been reconfigured. However, this architecturally distinctive building retains excellent physical integrity despite these alterations and the conversion to a library facility.

Detail for 2021 9th AVE / Parcel ID 0660000585 / Inv # SPL002

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Glass - Glass Block, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Education, Transportation
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
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.
"S.L. Savidge, 89, auto dealer, dies," Seattle Times, October 8, 1976, p. B7.
"S.L. Savidge Dies," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 8, 1976, p. A3.

Photo collection for 2021 9th AVE / Parcel ID 0660000585 / Inv # SPL002

Photo taken Oct 30, 2000

Photo taken Oct 30, 2000

Photo taken Oct 30, 2000
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