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Summary for 4500 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 995200-6260 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: A.A. Mullally Building Common Name: Senior Center of West Seattle
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1955

The two-story structure was designed in 1955 as an office and retail building owned by A. A. Mullally. The primary occupant, on the second floor, is the Senior Center of West Seattle. The first floor has housed a wide variety of small businesses over the years. The architects were the firm of Bittman and Sanders. Herbert Jay Bittman, the son of prominent architect Henry Bittman, received his B. Arch. from the University of Washington in 1949. He entered into a partnership with Dean Sanders, who had been working a designer with his father's firm. 

The Junction, West Seattle's primary commercial district, acquired its name in 1907 when a new street car line on California Avenue SW was extended south to Fauntleroy Park, crossing the Admiral streetcar line at SW Alaska Street. West Seattle, incorporated as a city in 1902, had built the Admiral line--the nation’s first municipally-owned streetcar line. At first, the Junction was just a swamp with a few real estate offices, but in 1907 West Seattle voted to be annexed to Seattle. Enhanced transportation and new amenities, accompanied by heavy promotion, encouraged a real estate boom, with new residents rapidly buying lots and building homes. Jefferson School opened in 1912, and had to be expanded in 1917. The 1920s brought significant growth, with major stores such as Ernst Hardware, Bartell Drugs, a J. C. Penney department store and two "five and dimes"--Woolworth's and Kress. Although development slowed during the Depression, the proximity of defense industries brought many new residents during World War II.  The Junction thrived into the 1950s with several modern retail buildings and larger stores. By the 1980s, however, competition from shopping malls made the Junction's stores less competitive. J.C. Penney left in 1987 and many other retailers selling common items such as clothing closed, generally replaced by restaurants, bars and service businesses. In 1985, a large retail/office/residential project was built on the former site of Jefferson Elementary School. In the early 1990s, the City of Seattle adopted a comprehensive plan that focused growth in "urban villages," including the Junction. By 2010, numerous single-story buildings were being replaced by six-story mixed-use structures with underground parking, significantly changing the district’s character.





This two-story building is of wood frame construction with a flat roof and a wide cornice with metal coping.  It has an L-shaped plan with a one-story CMU section at the northeast corner, set within the two wings of the ell. The west façade on California Avenue SW has three modern storefronts with newer glass-and-metal doors and large display windows with newer aluminum frames. The upper story has a curtain wall with a grid of expanses of glass with aluminum mullions.  The north elevation, facing SW Oregon Street, has brick cladding and the main entry bay with tall windows and a tall stucco-clad tower extending above the second story. A row of horizontal windows is placed high on the wall. The rear (east) side of the building has an open garage beneath the east wing (probably an addition) clad with EIFS and with large, newer windows.

Detail for 4500 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 995200-6260 / Inv # 0

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Concrete - Block, Glass Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Social Movements & Organizations
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
Storefront: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
West Seattle Herald. West Side Story, 1987.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.

Photo collection for 4500 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 995200-6260 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Mar 31, 2015

Photo taken Mar 31, 2015
App v2.0.1.0