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Summary for 400 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 0942001150 / Inv #

Historic Name: City Hall/ Public Safety Building Common Name: Yesler Building
Style: Beaux Arts - American Renaissance Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1909
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The building was designed by Clayton Wilson for the City of Seattle and completed in 1909. It was built to house various city government departments. The actual design was probably complete at least by 1906, since bidding for various portions of the project, based on Wilson’s drawings, was already being described in Pacific Builder and Engineer by that year. The building dates from a period explosive economic and physical growth for Seattle in general and for the original commercial district in the 1900 to 1910 period. The area to the northeast of the original district, where 400 Yesler is sited, is also known for several notable buildings and public squares of the same period and from later in the 1910s, for instance: the Prefontaine Building, the King County Courthouse (the first six floors), City Hall Park and the Frye Apartments. In general, the area began to be associated around 1909 with city government and continued to be developed along these lines into the 1910s. Clayton Wilson probably began his architectural practice in Seattle around 1904. He generally worked independently, but was associated with Seattle architect Arthur Loveless between 1909 and 1910. Wilson was selected to be the official architect of the building on a competitive basis, after a controversy involving the services of the City’s in-house architectural staff and the Seattle chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Apparently, the design is a more carefully rendered version of the original plans produced by the City’s Assistant Building Inspector. The building was officially named the Public Safety Building in 1916. From then until 1951, it housed the Health Department, the City Hospital, the Police Department and the City Jail. The building was vacated by the City in 1951 and sometime thereafter was partially converted to a parking garage. By the time of the 1976 Amendment to the National Register Nomination for the Pioneer Square Historic District, it had been abandoned. By the early 1980s, it had been refurbished for City use and was known as the Municipal Building. The building was listed separately in the National Register of Historic Places on June 19, 1973.
This is a free standing, six story Beaux Arts building, located between Terrace Street, Yesler Way, Fourth and Fifth Avenues. It has an interior structure of reinforced concrete post and beam and exterior walls of both concrete and solid masonry. There is also a basement and sub-basement level. The building has a virtually trapezoidal plan, with the base of the trapezoid broken up into two sections, which gently angle out toward Fifth Avenue. The apex of the trapezoid ends in a curve, which is also made visible at the building’s roof level. The first two levels of the exterior are clad in rusticated sandstone and have trabeated openings. This is topped by three stories of trabeated openings in light colored brick, where bays are created by projecting piers in rusticated cast-stone. This is surmounted by a metal belt-course with repeated bracket consoles in pairs and with modillions set between them. At the top level are lower window openings, topped by a low mansard roof which further emphasizes and expresses the unique shape of the building plan. A penthouse was added subsequently and is not visible from many angl

Detail for 400 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 0942001150 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Stone - Ashlar/cut Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Metal, Other
Building Type: Government - Government office Plan: Triangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Politics/Government/Law
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Potter, Elizabeth Wdalton. “Pioneer Square Historic District Expansion Amendment.” December 1976.
“The County-City Building, Seattle Municipal Archives, City Hall Exhibit.” n.d. Database on-line. Available from

Photo collection for 400 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 0942001150 / Inv #

Photo taken Aug 09, 2004

Photo taken Aug 09, 2004
App v2.0.1.0