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Summary for 2321 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0655000055 / Inv #

Historic Name: National Theater Co. Common Name: Sports Specialties
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: Belltown
Built By: Year Built: 1928
This small building was constructed in 1928 by R. C. Baumgarten. At that time this vicinity was the center of the Northwest film distribution industry, and this building housed related businesses such as the Western Poster Company and the National Theater Company. In keeping with its neighbors, it was originally a relatively ornate buidling, with a tile-trimmed roof,ornamental trim and large divided-light transoms. The roof tile and building ornamentation have have been removed and the storefronts and entries have been altered. From the 1920s until the 1960s, Belltown was the center of the film industry in the Pacific Northwest. Seattle was a major film center, more than fifty theaters in the 1920-40s, and more than 400 in the state. All the major studios and many smaller ones had distribution centers, called film exchanges, in Belltown. Films were shipped by rail from Los Angeles, and were shipped from here to local theaters in Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana by truck, ship, rail or auto. Each distributor had salesmen who would preview the films and go on the road to describe the new releases to theater owners. Many theater owners came here themselves to view the films and select the ones they wanted to feature. “Film Row” originated at 3rd and Lenora, but moved to the 2nd and Battery vicinity in the mid-1920s. The major film exchange buildings, built in 1928, were across from this site at 1st and Battery, now the location of Belltown Court condominium. These buildings housed Columbia, Warner's, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and many others. Others built their own film exchanges, such as the MGM/Loew’s building at Second and Battery. They included special vaults to store the highly flammable nitrate film, and often had small theaters to screen the films. Surrounding buildings included theater furnishing suppliers, poster companies and other supporting businesses. Nearby was the Lorraine Hotel (now the William Tell), where many in the film industry stayed on their business trips. In 1952 the payroll on Film Row alone was estimated at more than $1,000,000, not including profits from theaters, equipment or advertising.
The northern storefront is largely intact, with a wooden door and leaded glass transom window. The middle storefront has newer aluminum window sash but retains the transom. The southern storefront is completely modernized and the transom is covered.

Detail for 2321 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0655000055 / Inv #

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Entertainment/Recreation
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
Sheridan, Mimi, “Historic Context Statement, Belltown," 2007.

Photo collection for 2321 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 0655000055 / Inv #

Photo taken

Photo taken Jul 04, 2006

Photo taken Mar 18, 2007
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