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Summary for 51 University ST / Parcel ID 7666202475 / Inv #

Historic Name: Pacific Net and Twine Company/ Pacific Marine Supply Company Common Name: Immunex
Style: Commercial - Chicago School, Other - Industrial Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1918
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 is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Original drawings indicate that this building was originally designed by John Graham (Senior) as a warehouse for the Pacific Net and Twine Company. It was completed in 1918. The same drawings also indicate that the building was originally projected to be only four stories in height. Aside from this, it appears that the Graham drawings were followed pretty carefully. John Graham practiced architecture in Seattle from 1901 to the 1940s. Born in Liverpool and initially trained in architecture in the United Kingdom through apprenticeship, his body of work in Seattle includes major buildings such as the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant of 1913, the Frederick and Nelson Department Store Building of 1916-1919 (now Nordstrom’s), the Dexter Horton Building of 1921-4 and the Exchange Building of 1929-31. His independent practice was started in 1910. It evolved into a thriving and well-established firm in Seattle, which remained in business until the 1970s. Around the time of the building’s completion, the Pacific Net and Twine Company was also a tenant of Pier 8, now Pier 59. During the mid-1920s, the company merged with the Marine Supply Company at Pier 1 to form the Pacific Marine Supply Company. This building became the home of the Pacific Marine Supply Company offices. Like its predecessors, the Pacific Marine Supply Company was associated with Seattle’s shipping industry along the central waterfront. It was an important supplier of marine and fishing supplies. Under President D. B. McBride, a Portland entrepreneur, it became one of the largest marine supply companies in the Pacific Northwest. During the 1930s, the building boasted a variety of signs, some large and apparently painted, some consisting of individual letters, possibly metal lettering, which were affixed to the spandrels. All of the signage clearly announced Pacific Marine Supply Company’s ownership of the building. In particular, set behind the parapet and looming up from the penthouse level, there was a huge sign, which appears have almost covered the length of the Alaskan Way elevation. A sign over the garage on the west side of the University Street elevation also explained what the company sold: “Fishing Supplies, Marine Hardware, Ship Stores.” The Pacific Marine Supply Company remained in the building at least until the mid-1960s and probably somewhat later. By 1966, for instance, the company’s new name was Pacific Marine Schwabacher and a new loading dock was designed for the building. By 1972, the building continued to be known as the “Pacific Marine Schwabacher Building.” Drawings by the architecture firm of Olson Walker from 1980 indicate that the warehouse was changed at that time to “retail” for Cornerstone Development. These drawings simply call the building “Schwabacher.” The first set of extant drawings that indicate that Immunex was taking over any part of the building date from 1983. It is in the 1980s, probably around 1983, that the major changes, such as the addition of the highly visible mechanical equipment and the addition of the curved wall behind the opening for the original garage, were completed. Alterations to various parts of the building, mainly interior changes for Immunex, continued to occur throughout the 1980s, at least into the early 1990s. The alterations were designed by a variety of well-known local Seattle architecture and engineering firms, including in the 1980s, the architecture firms of Olson Walker, Bumgardner & Associates and Wyatt Stapper and the engineering firms, Bouillon Christopherson and Schairer, as well as Robert Fossatti Associates. According to current King County Parcel Locator Reports, the building continues to be owned by Immunex and is described as the “Schwabacher Building,” however, it is more commonly known as the “Immunex Building.” A variety of retail stores have occupied the ground floor space, which faces Western Avenue. The space is currently occupied by the French furniture store, Ligne Roset. Despite the change in ownership over the years and changes to the building, the exterior of the building is surprisingly intact and has kept the essential features and much of the exterior fabric of its exterior design. It was designed by a Seattle architect of some repute and it is a worthy example of his work. In addition, the building has been consistently associated with Seattle’s maritime history and economy.
This is a six story building, which also has basement and penthouse levels. The building is sited between Western Avenue to the east and Alaskan Way to the west and between University Street to the north and an alley adjoining 1201 Western Avenue to the south. The building footprint is 120 feet by 134 feet, with the shorter dimension parallel to both Western Avenue and Alaskan Way. The roof is partially flat, although there are several small penthouses, which are not that visible from the street, although they do have some impact on the parapet levels of both the north and western elevations. Most of the penthouses, as originally built, had skylights. The exterior structure is mainly of reinforced concrete and, in particular, includes reinforced concrete piers, while the original interior structure is also of concrete and includes regularly spaced concrete columns, which are octagonal in plan. Visual interest is added to the exterior by a variety of repeated motifs, based on triangular shapes, which are added or subtracted from rectangular, square or cross-shapes. Further interest is added by the contrast between light colored concrete and brick cladding, as well as the contrast between solid masonry elements and fairly big expanses of multi-pane glass. The building exterior features an east façade, consisting of six bays, set along Western Avenue, a northern façade, consisting of seven bays along University Street and a western façade, also of six bays, along Alaskan Way. The Western façade has six recessed bays, separated by concrete piers. The piers run from the ground level to the parapet level and end in a pointed, two sided shape. In addition, a distinctive geometrical shape in ornamental brick is set near the top of each pier. Akin to a shield motif turned upside down, the shape of the brick ornament resembles that of a triangle added to a rectangle and basically mirrors the shape of the top of the pier. Between the concrete piers, spandrels are in brick, but lintels and sills are in concrete. For the top four floors, window openings, which run from pier to pier in the horizontal direction, are filled with multi-pane industrial sash. Below these four floors, the second floor bays are divided into three openings by small, brick clad columns. Below, at a mezzanine level, each of the bays feature a row of three single rectangular openings, with window frames inset and recessed within the exterior wall. The ground level bays consist mainly of new storefront, which includes new glazing and hardware, but maintains the tripartite division, established at the two levels above. A continuous awning, constructed of fairly hefty circular metal pipe, has been added (during the late Twentieth Century) above the storefront. The multi-pane industrial sash of the top four floors appears to be original, while glazing in the second and level below is new, but compatible with the original design. The storefront reflects more recent design trends and storefront detailing. Other original design elements include a variety of geometrical ornamentation. Aside from the ornament at the top of each of the piers, there is a recurring recessed cross-shape, which is cut into each of the piers above the mezzanine level. The shape is fairly prominent and each of its arms ends in a characteristic pointed shape. The exterior of the shape is in concrete. This is inset with tiles, which create an interior cross shape, which echoes the outer shape, within which are interlocking squares and diamond shapes in a variety of colors and shades, including yellow, green, blue and dark blue. Also directly above each storefront, are repeated bands of a third geometrical shape, essentially a square with a small triangle cut out from the center of each of its sides. Overall, the north elevation, which faces University Street, has the same basic composition and design detailing as the Western Avenue elevation, except that there are seven bays instead of six bays. Even here, there are a few obvious differences. The penthouse level, (described as a “loft” on the King County Tax Assessor’s record cards), presents an elevation, which ties in with the main parapet in front of it, so that the elevation has a central raised bay. The shape of this portion of the north elevation is that of a modified triangle, which has been flattened out at its apex and has a short amount of horizontal parapet to each side of it. The horizontal elements to each side of the modified triangle have simple, flat caps, instead of the usual pointed endings. The signature brick ornamental motif, observed at the top of the piers along Western Avenue, is used to adorn most of the University Street piers. (It does not occur on the most eastern pier, since originally a flag pole was affixed in the usual location for the ornament). It also occurs under the flattened apex of the penthouse/ loft. On the north elevation, the two western bays at grade were originally occupied by a large garage door opening. As part of a late Twentieth Century remodel, this opening and a third adjoining bay were modified to create a major showpiece entrance to the uppers floors. This included a curved wall set back within what was the larger garage opening and an entry in the adjoining bay with modern double doors, transoms and modern hardware. As part of the same remodel, the fenestration in the central bay was removed entirely, although the spandrels and other elements remained. At the ground level, the bay has a new double door, as well as an opening which exposes large mechanical pipes. This mechanical equipment, including large vents, is intentionally exposed and dramatically highlighted, as it rises vertically to the top of the building. Despite these somewhat dramatic new design flourishes, the north elevation is very large and retains much of its original fabric and detailing. The western elevation along Alaskan Way exhibits essentially the same composition and original detailing as the other elevations. Functions along the grade level have changed. As a result, exterior changes have mainly occurred at the grade level openings, which corresponded to a garage at the three northern openings and to a loading area, particularly at the three southern bays. At the four central openings, there is new, but compatible multi-pane glazing. There are also new concrete steps and platforms, which lead to entries at the second and fifth bays (counting from the north), as well as new, but compatible sheet metal awnings at these bays. Typical stair platforms at the second and fifth bays are partially circular in plan and are inset with ceramic tile squares. The central bay has glazed multi-pane transoms and a roll-up door, which is at grade. The building exterior, despite the described changes, particularly on the University Street elevation and the grade level bays on the Alaskan Way elevation, has retained much of its original fabric and detailing.

Detail for 51 University ST / Parcel ID 7666202475 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Ceramic tile, Concrete, Metal Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Community Planning/Development, Manufacturing/Industry, Transportation
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: 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.
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Sheridan, Mimi. “SR 99, Draft Environmental Impact Statement,”ca. 2006.
The Johnson Partnership, “Pier 59, formerly Pier 8, Pike St Wharf, Dodwell Dock), Landmark Nomination, Seattle, December 2000.
“Pioneer Square National Register Historic District, Seattle, Washington. National Register Nomination Update. 2005.
Baist, William. Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Seattle, Wash. Philadelphia: W. G. Baist, 1905, 1908 and 1912. 1905, 1908 and 1912.

Photo collection for 51 University ST / Parcel ID 7666202475 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 09, 2006

Photo taken Jul 31, 2006
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