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Summary for 720 Seneca ST / Parcel ID 19760-0260 / Inv #

Historic Name: Exeter, The Common Name: Exeter House
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: First Hill
Built By: Year Built: 1926
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.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The Exeter is one of several high rise apartment buildings constructed on First Hill in the late 1920s. It was originally constructed as an apartment hotel, with 139 2- to 3-room apartments, arranged so they could be combined into larger units, and 19 large apartments with fireplaces and other amenities. A dining room on the first floor provided meals for those who did not want to cook in their apartments. The exeter is also notable for its exuberant Tudor Gothic terra cotta ornamentation, which continues the tradition of elegant living on First Hill. In the 1880s-90s, First Hill, with views and proximity to downtown, developed as the premier residential neighborhood, with the city's finest mansions. However, by the early 20th Century, apartment buildings and residential hotels, many quite luxurious, began appearing. It was not surprising that, during the 1920s apartment building boom, the city’s most elegant buildings were constructed here, confirming that this was still a desirable address. The building is now devoted to housing families and recovering patients of nearby hospitals. This large building is another of those built during Seattle's major construction boom during the 1920s. The city's population has increased dramatically in previous decades, and prosperity encouraged developers to meet the pent-up demand for housing. First Hill was a particularly popular location, because of its proximity to downtown, and during the 1920s it saw the largest buildings outside of downtown. The Exeter House is now operated by Presbyterian Ministries as a retirement residence and assisted living facility. The architects, B. Dudley Stuart and Arthur Wheatley, were responsible for several of the most prominent apartment buildings of this era, including the Bergonian (now the Mayflower Hotel), Marlborough Apartments and Biltmore Apartments. Their practice also included residences and a number of fraternity and sorority houses. Stuart (1885-1977) was born in London and came to Seattle from Vancouver in 1918. He worked in partnership with Arthur Wheatley from 1925-1939, the heyday of Seattle apartment development. He later worked in partnership with Robert L. Durham, until retiring at the age of 86.
This ten-story building is of concrete construction, clad in brownish brick with extensive terra cotta ornamentation. The center entry bay and two other bays on the main (south) façade, as well as a bay on each side elevation, are all completely clad with cream-colored terra cotta with a variety of Tudor-inspired motifs. Terra cotta medallions also adorn the gabled parapet and the top-floor spandrels. A very wide belt course and water table delineate the first floor. A narrow string course at the base of the parapet is highlighted with patterned brickwork and decorative tiles. The front of the building is further enhacned with three projecting bays of terra cotta, ohne above the entry. The elegant entry has the name "Exeter" incised between two shields. Windows are newer metal sash.

Detail for 720 Seneca ST / Parcel ID 19760-0260 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: ten
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Plan: 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.

Photo collection for 720 Seneca ST / Parcel ID 19760-0260 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 08, 2006
App v2.0.1.0