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Summary for 812 Howell ST / Parcel ID 0660000708 / Inv #

Historic Name: D. N. & E. Walter & Co. Common Name: Roffe Building
Style: Art Deco, Commercial - Chicago School Neighborhood: Denny Triangle
Built By: Year Built: 1929
The building was designed as a four story building by Louis Svarz in 1929 for the D. N & E Walter & Company. It was designed to support additional floors. In 1946, two floors were added, with the Art Deco ornamentation simply removed and reattached two floors up or replicated. No drawings indicate how or if the original Art Deco ornamentation was reattached, but it seems very close to that shown in the original drawings. On the other hand, extant drawings from 1946 indicate that Harry Powell, a known Seattle structural engineer, did the structural work for the two story addition. It is not clear if Louis Svarz was involved in the later addition, but the spirit of his original design has been retained. As a shorter, squatter building, it probably bears a greater resemblance to Louis Svarz’ “Store Building for the Puget Sound Notion Company,”at 1001 Lenora Street, which is also in the Denny Regrade area and dates from the same period. Despite its interesting construction history and the changes to its windows, the building has a real presence along Howell Street and retains the most important elements of its original design. It is significant in the Denny Triangle neighborhood.
This is a six story Art Deco office building. It has a concrete post and beam structure and is clad in concrete and cast stone. Its footprint is very slightly irregular and has the shape of a long parallelogram. The plan is three bays in the short direction and six bays in the long direction. The main façade is along Howell Street, while all the other elevations were not designed to face the street. Nevertheless, currently, the north (really northeast) elevation is visible, because it faces a parking lot. The main façade, which has a symmetrical composition, is divided into three major bays. There is a high ground floor level, which includes transom lights and is topped by a cast stone belt course. As part of the belt course, to each side of the central bay, are cast stone shields. Continuous piers, emphasized by shallow engaged pilasters, which have granite bases, rise from grade level to the building parapet. The parapet level, especially at the central bay, is decorated with Art Deco ornament. This includes repeated rectangular panels, each decorated with a stylized version of a flower, with a central stem, and stylized leaves, set very regularly and symmetrically to each side. Also at the parapet level, which rises slightly at the central bay, the piers/ pilasters are further expressed by slightly protruding vertical elements, which have a curved cross-section. Above the entry and storefront level, from the transom level to the parapet, the central bay has five window openings per floor, while the flanking bays each have two openings. Based on historical drawings and the present state of the windows, they have been replaced. Ground floor transoms originally had plate glass with no muntins, but have been replaced by windows which are modern replicas of 2 over 2 windows. According to these drawings, above the ground level, original glazing consisted of a pair of transom lites, set above a 2 over 2 window. The current configuration duplicates this arrangement, although there is no transom bar. In general, although the windows are clearly new and do not seem to have real muntins, an attempt was made to replicate the original windows of these upper floors. At the ground level, the north storefront has become a recessed entry with a double door and the south storefront retains its plate glass and marble base, as shown in the original drawings. Despite some changes to the windows, overall, the building has retained the most important elements of its design.

Detail for 812 Howell ST / Parcel ID 0660000708 / Inv #

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

Photo collection for 812 Howell ST / Parcel ID 0660000708 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 25, 2006

Photo taken Mar 27, 2006
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