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Summary for 2312 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 06560000230 / Inv #

Historic Name: RKO Distributing Common Name: Roq la Rue Gallery
Style: Art Deco Neighborhood: Belltown
Built By: Year Built: 1928
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 concrete commercial building is a little-recognized jewel of the city’s historic film district, and is one of the most architecturally intact small commercial buildings downtown. It was designed in 1928 by Earle Morrison for owner E. N. Canedy, as a film exchange. This was the same year that two teamed up on the adjacent B. F. Shearer building to the north. This building served for many years as the local office of the RKO Distributing Company, which distributed films from the RKO studio throughout the Northwest. In recent years it has been occupied primarily by artists’ studios and galleries. It retains its very distinctive features, including a bulkhead and trim of Batchelder tile (including accent tiles in dragon and ship patterns), cast stone pilasters with Art Deco motifs and divided light transom windows. This is a small work by a well-known local architect, Earle Morrison. Morrison (d. 1955) practiced in Spokane before moving to Seattle in 1926. He specialized in high-rise buildings, especially apartments. His major works include the the Textile (now Olympic) Tower, Olive Tower Apartments (1928), 1223 Spring Street Apartments (1929), the Gainsborough (1930), the Nettleton (now 1000 8th Avenue Apartments, 1949) and the Baldwin (now Horizon House, 1955). From the 1920s until the 1960s, Belltown was the center of the film industry in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle was a major film center, more than fifty theaters in the 1920-40s, and more than 400 in the state. All the major studios and many smaller ones had distribution centers, called film exchanges, in Belltown. Films were shipped by rail from Los Angeles, and were shipped from here to local theaters in Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana by truck, ship, rail or auto. Each distributor had salesmen who would preview the films and go on the road to describe the new releases to theater owners. Many theater owners came here themselves to view the films and select the ones they wanted to feature. “Film Row” originated at 3rd and Lenora, but moved to the 2nd and Battery vicinity in the mid-1920s. The major film exchange buildings, built in 1928, were across from this site at 1st and Battery, now the location of Belltown Court condominium. These buildings housed Columbia, Warner's, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and many others. Others built their own film exchanges, such as the MGM/Loew’s building at Second and Battery. They included special vaults to store the highly flammable nitrate film, and often had small theaters to screen the films. Surrounding buildings included theater furnishing suppliers, poster companies and other supporting businesses. Nearby was the Lorraine Hotel (now the William Tell), where many in the film industry stayed on their business trips. In 1952 the payroll on Film Row alone was estimated at more than $1,000,000, not including profits from theaters, equipment or advertising.
This one-story concrete building has three intact storefronts, with original display windows with multilight transoms. The bulkheads below the windows and a band above the windows, are notable, clad with Betchelder tile in shades of green and brown with dragon and ship patterns-- rare feature in Seattle commercial exteriors. Cast stone pilasters between the display windows project above the roofline; shorter pilasters flank the doorways. All have a strong Art Deco motif.

Detail for 2312 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 06560000230 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Ceramic tile, Concrete, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Specialty store Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
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.
Sheridan, Mimi, “Historic Context Statement, Belltown," 2007.

Photo collection for 2312 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 06560000230 / Inv #

Photo taken Jul 04, 2006

Photo taken Mar 18, 2007
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