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Summary for 925 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 7666202500 / Inv # SFD002

Historic Name: Fire Station No. 5 Common Name:
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1963
 
Significance
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
Completed in 1963, this modern fire station is the third building on the site and the fourth to serve the Central Waterfront. Until the 1930s, much of the development along Seattle’s Central Waterfront was built on wooden piers and trestles over the water, including the wharves and the railroad tracks. The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 proved the necessity of a professional fire department as well as the necessity of a waterfront fire station equipped with a fireboat. In addition to destroying much of the city’s commercial district, the fire consumed all of the wooden piers, railroad trestles, and wharves along the waterfront as far north as Union Street. A bucket brigade finally stopped the flames’ advance, sparing a few northern piers. The railroad trestles were quickly rebuilt, and the gaps between the two railroad trestles were planked in to create "Railroad Avenue." It was not until 1934 that local officials used Depression-era federal funds to build a seawall to contain the fill that would ultimately support a new Alaskan Way. The first waterfront fire station went into service on January 3, 1891 in a small one-story wood frame building at the foot of Madison Street. With a crew of nine, the company consisted of the new fireboat "Snoqualmie" and a small hose wagon. In 1902, a permanent replacement, a larger two-story wood frame building, was constructed on an adjacent lot at 925 Railroad Avenue, now known as Alaskan Way. In 1910, the new fireboat "Duwamish" replaced the "Snoqualmie," which became a second fireboat company. In 1916, the wood frame building was demolished and a new two-story brick fire station was completed the following year in 1917. This handsome building with Craftsman and Tudor stylistic details remained in service until 1961. During that time, the new fireboat "Alki" was put into service in 1928. By the early 1960s, it was apparent that the 1917 fire station would have to be replaced, as the supporting pier timbers were becoming unsafe. The old building was demolished in early 1961 however the new building was not opened until December of 1963 due to the structural work required to support the new building. The architecture firm of Durham, Anderson & Freed designed this fire station at the beginning of their second decade in practice together. After a ten-year partnership with noted Seattle architect Bertram Dudley Stuart from 1941 to 1951, Robert Durham had practiced on his own for a brief period before joining with David R. Anderson and Aaron Freed to form their firm. Best known for the design of churches, for which they received considerable local and national attention, the partnership’s projects also included schools, banks, residences, and master plans. They also designed public buildings, such as the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library in 1961 and Fire Station No. 5 in 1963. The Modern design for this building is typical of their work, especially in the integration of the building’s form and structure and in the clear legibility between exterior forms and finishes and interior functions. This building is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Seattle Fire Department and the Central Waterfront.
 
Appearance
Completed in 1963, this one and two-story building is situated on the waterfront side of Alaskan Way at the base of Madison Street and extends over the water on pilings. Fireboats are moored from floating docks at the rear. This Modern building’s prominent features include an exposed concrete frame, a four-story hose tower, and an overhanging flat roof, which rests on tapered concrete trusses. Exterior finishes include concrete, stucco and exposed aggregate. A one-story engine bay at the southeast corner adjoins a larger two-story block at the rear, creating a structure with an L-plan. The freestanding hose tower is situated near the inner juncture of these two sections. On the principal east elevation of the engine bay, a large offset opening contains two overhead entrance doors separated by a center column. Originally, this opening contained a single large overhead door. Concrete roof trusses overhang the north and south walls of the engine bay. The concrete frame divides the south elevation into six bays, all of which contain a blank panel covered with exposed aggregate. A glass wall with an entrance door covers the north elevation of the engine bay. Concrete roof trusses overhang the east and west walls of the rear two-story portion at both the first and second story levels. The exposed concrete frame divides the longer east and west elevations into twelve bays and the shorter north and south elevations into six bays. Along the upper floor of the principal east elevation, pairs of narrow windows are set below the roofline in nine of the twelve bays. Stuccoed panels fill the remaining three bays. The building’s main entrance is tucked behind the hose tower at the ground floor level. The two bays at the northern end of the east elevation contain a driveway to the rear of the site covered by the overhanging second story. An additional entrance is located off the driveway along the north elevation. With the exception of the driveway, the north and south elevations present blank walls covered by exposed aggregate panels under the overhanging eaves. Along the upper floor of the rear west elevation, nine of the twelve bays have large windows set between stuccoed panels above and below. On the ground floor level, a recessed bay near the center and a bay at the southern end have double entrance doors. Three additional bays have windows similar to those found on the second story. The bay adjacent to the driveway at the northern end contains a recessed storage area. Stuccoed panels fill the remaining four bays. Capped by a flared flat roof with a small peak, the hose tower has an exposed concrete frame with window-lined corners at the third and fourth stories. The original corner openings at the first and second story levels have been filled with concrete. The tall narrow panels at the center of each elevation are covered with exposed aggregate. This architecturally distinctive building displays excellent physical integrity.

Detail for 925 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 7666202500 / Inv # SFD002

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Other, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Other
Building Type: Government - Fire Station Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Politics/Government/Law
Integrity
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Fire Department, Centennial Commemorative, 1889-1989. Portland, OR: Taylor Pub. Co., c1989.

Photo collection for 925 Alaskan WAY / Parcel ID 7666202500 / Inv # SFD002


Photo taken Oct 30, 2000
App v2.0.1.0