Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 1020 Virginia ST / Parcel ID 0660001505 / Inv #

Historic Name: Office and Loft Building for Philip McBride Common Name: Orion Youth Center
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: Denny Triangle
Built By: Year Built: 1929
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
This building, originally designed as an “Office and Loft for Phillip McBride, Owner,” was completed in 1929. The original drawings indicate that there may also have been terra cotta shields on the building façade. This building is typical of commercial buildings, (sometimes as low as one story) erected in Seattle between the mid to late 1920s in Seattle. Typically they have brick cladding, and bays defined by engaged piers, with cast stone bases, a brick clad shaft and a simple cap termination, often emphasized by an extruded rectangular shape on their face; however, the plan shape of this building, which, unlike the typical buildings, is not rectangular, is somewhat unique. The building is associated with an engineer named “C. C. Wotherspoon,” (the drawings as recorded on microfiche are faded, but the first spelling seems likely), who also appears to be listed as the architect on a very faded permit. In the cladding and detailing of the piers, the building particularly resembles several one story buildings in the nearby South Lake Union area, several of which were designed by architect W. R. Grant, along Dexter Avenue and another near Fairview by the architecture firm of Stuart and Wheatley. Therefore, the detailing, used in the design of this building appears not to have been unique to one particular architect or firm, but to be typical of a certain type of Seattle commercial vernacular/ utilitarian building of the same period. The building is an example of a type of 1920s building where an effort was made to create a pleasing or interesting facade, using simple repeated elements. At the same time, the asymmetrical combination of narrow and wide bays, and particularly the emphasis wide entry bay and neighboring narrow bay by a raised parapet, is somewhat irregular, in light of the usual balance in more typical examples. Over the years, the building provided space for businesses involved in light manufacturing or supplies, or office space for insurance related businesses. In the late 1930s, the building housed “Consolidated Sign Manufacturers” and “Electrical Products.” By 1955, businesses included “Murray and Company Insurance,” “Preferred Insurance Exchange,” and “Preferred Underwriters.” In the 1990s, the building was rehabilitated for the Orion Youth Center.
This is a two story building, sited on an irregular, triangular shaped lot. Based on original drawings and other records, the exterior structure, including two alley walls, is of concrete, with the interior structure of heavy timber. The building’s main façade, which fronts on both Virginia Street and Fairview Avenue, follows the shape of a compound curve, made up of a circular arc, which then blends into a straight line, as it moves parallel to Fairview Avenue. The main façade is two stories high, mainly clad in various shades of brown brick. It is divided into basically two sizes of bay by engaged piers with concrete bases and simple cast stone terminations, with the shafts of the piers clad in the same brick, as the rest of the façade. An extruded square shape marks the face of each of the cast stone terminations, which act as pier capitals. This is really the only ornament in the design. From west to east, the bays alternate in size from a typically narrow bay to a wider bay, twice its width, and end along the straight portion of the façade with a typical wider bay. The typical single bay appears to have been designed with a single glazed opening with two multi-pane transoms, 5 over 5 at the second floor and with a corresponding storefront and transom lites at ground level. The wider bay appears to have been designed to be twice the width of the narrow bay and predictably to have twice the number of 5 over 5 multi-pane transoms. Original drawings are somewhat faded and lack information, so the original disposition of the transom lites is somewhat conjectural; however, currently transoms in many places have been covered over with plywood and storefront has been replaced by new glazing and/ or new combinations of wood and glazing infill. In addition, fenestration at the second level also appears to have been replaced. The building has a flat roof and parapet, which is raised over the second and third bays, counting from the west (or beginning along Virginia Street). While the building retains a sense of the original storefront and fenestration, it is really the building cladding, which conveys the building’s original character and design. In fact, the cladding is relatively intact, except for the painting of what was probably a concrete base to the piers in a bright, lighter blue.

Detail for 1020 Virginia ST / Parcel ID 0660001505 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Commerce
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.

Photo collection for 1020 Virginia ST / Parcel ID 0660001505 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 12, 2006
App v2.0.1.0