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Summary for 1511 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1975700465 / Inv #

Historic Name: Republic Building Common Name: Melborne Tower
Style: Spanish - Eclectic Neighborhood: Commercial Core
Built By: Year Built: 1927
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
This property is directly associated with the early twentieth century developmental era (1920-1930) when a significant number of commercial buildings were constructed and the modern downtown commercial district was fully established. In 1923 Seattle adopted its first ordinance that regulated specific geographic areas for specified uses; it allowed the most densely concentrated commercial development to occur in the downtown core. The economic prosperity of the 1920s stimulated the development of numerous major highrise commercial buildings, as well as dozens of smaller-scale bank and commercial buildings, major hotels and apartment hotels, club buildings and entertainment facilities, which were typically designed by leading Seattle architects. During this era, the original residential district was entirely absorbed by commercial and other real estate development. By 1930, virtually all of the old residential properties - as well as many of the immediate post-fire era commercial buildings outside of Pioneer Square - had been demolished or removed. Numerous highly distinctive commercial highrise buildings dating from this era have already been designated as City landmarks, including the: Shafer Building (1923); the Dexter Horton (1922); Terminal Sales (1923); Medical Dental Building (1925); Skinner Building (1925); Fourth & Pike (Liggett) Building (1927); 1411 Fourth Avenue (1929); Great Northern Building (1929); Exchange Building (1929); Northern Life Tower (1929), and the Olympic Tower (1929). Information regarding the original ownership and construction of this distinctive ten-story highrise commercial building is limited. The earliest owners may have been Ester Levy and Isaac Cooper. Information regarding what tenants may have used the building is also limited. Prior research and analysis regarding the significance of this building has been limited to an analysis of its architectural attributes and context. It is one of several highrise commercial buildings constructed during this era that share similar exterior cladding and architectural treatment. Each is located at a prominent corner of a downtown block with matching facades at each major elevation, which exhibit strong vertical qualities that reinforce the highrise architectural character. Typically, the use of glazed terra cotta complements and reveals the underlying structural system and allowed designers to utilize the range of eclectic architecture styles that were particularly popular during this era. In this case the details are drawn from the Spanish Eclectic (using Rococo design precedents) design mode, a unique highrise example of a design mode that was highly popular for residential, apartment house and smaller commercial buildings throughout the city. The Shafer Building (also 1927) and the Fourth & Pike (Liggett) Building (also 1927) are embellished with Gothic detailing, a more common commercial and high-rise application. George W. Lawton (1864-1928) and Herman A. Moldenhour (1864-1976) practiced in association and then partnership between c.1920 and 1928, during which time they designed several large apartment buildings, office buildings and institutional facilities including the Republic Building (1928), Masonic Temple (Egyptian Theater, 1922) and the Jordan Building (1920). One of their best known works is the Fourth and Pike Building/Liggett Building (1927). Lawton settled in Seattle from Wisconsin in 1889 and worked as a draftsman for the firm of Saunders and Houghton. Between 1898 and 1914 he was in partnership with Charles W. Saunders, one of the city's most prominent early architects. He practiced on his own from 1915 until c.1920, when he became associated with Herman Moldenhour. Moldenhour had worked as an office boy for Saunders and Lawton before beginning to practice as an architect. Lawton died in 1928; however, Moldenhour continued to practice for at least two more decades. The distinctive original exterior appearance of this building has been somewhat altered and is only partially intact. The removal and alteration of the two-part pivoting window sash and to a lesser degree the construction of modern retail storefront level has diminished the historic architectural character of the building. However, it is unique for its Spanish Eclectic design mode and is associated with the noteworthy Seattle architecture firm, Lawton and Moldenhour. [This property was previously determined eligible for listing in the National Register by the SHPO.]
Prominently located at the NW corner of Third Avenue and Pike Street, this ten-story office building originally included several storefront retail shops and now houses a large chain store with the upper floor levels used for commercial/office purposes. It measures 111’ x 116’ and exhibits a three-part vertical block façade composition and architectural ornament using Spanish Eclectic, Baroque and Rococo derived decorative schemes. The steel and reinforced concrete structure includes a foundation and basement and is entirely clad with cream-color glazed terra cotta. The two principal facades are nearly identical in composition, each with prominent two-story base, seven-story shaft and highly ornamented one-story building cap. Each of the facades is divided vertically above the base into (two-window wide) corner bays and multiple central bays (one-window wide) that are divided by interstitial piers. The storefront portion of the two-story base including the original two-story building entry portal (at the northernmost bay) has been entirely remodeled and modernized and does not include any historic building fabric/features. The second floor level portion of the base is intact with the exception of the windows, which are a modern aluminum product and very dissimilar to the heavy tripartite sash with transoms that originally distinguished this floor level. The fenestration pattern at this floor level is unique with an expansive window opening framed by terra cotta cladding that extends the full width of the central bay section. The window openings are trimmed in terra cotta and the base is surmounted by an intermediate cornice with an ornate corbel table. At the shaft, narrow piers separate the central window bays and rise uninterrupted for seven floors to composite capitals. Recessed spandrels mark each floor level and are decorated with spiral and floral motifs applied over rose-color terra cotta tiles. The major piers are capped by ornate shield ornament. All of the original pivoting wooden windows with transoms have been replaced with a very dissimilar modern aluminum product. The building is capped at the tenth floor by a highly decorated tenth floor level and parapet level design. Each of the wider corner bays is terminated at the roofline by a gabled parapet with ornate terra cotta cresting. At the tenth floor level, each of the wider corner bays includes a single window with a small projecting round balcony and decorative iron railing. The balconies align with a decorated intermediate cornice that serves to accentuate a band of windows with ornate surrounds at the central bay of each elevation. Polychromatic ornament and mouldings surmount the windows with curvilinear Rococo mouldings and medallions at the wide corner bays. All of the original multi-pane 8/8 double hung sash that further distinguished the cap have been replaced with a very dissimilar modern aluminum product. As noted above extensive alterations have been made to the entire storefront level and all of the original windows have been removed and replaced with very dissimilar aluminum windows. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1511 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1975700465 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Professional Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: ten
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront: Extensive
Changes to Interior: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Courtois, Shirley L. METRO Downtown Seattle Transit Project FEIS Inventory Form, 1984.
Seattle Inventory Field Form, Office of Urban Conservation, 1979.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.
Seattle Monorail Greenline EIS - Historic Resource Form prepared by ENTRIX (2003).

Photo collection for 1511 3rd AVE / Parcel ID 1975700465 / Inv #

Photo taken May 23, 2006
App v2.0.1.0