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Summary for 903 Union ST / Parcel ID 197820-0225 / Inv #

Historic Name: Cambridge Apartments Common Name: Cambridge Apartments
Style: Beaux Arts - Neoclassical Neighborhood: First Hill
Built By: Year Built: 1923
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.
When the Cambridge Apartments was completed in 1923, it was heralded as the largest apartment building in Seattle at the time. The developer and original owner was the Real Estate Improvement Company, headed by George R. Hannum, a retired lumberman. The Cambridge was the first of the high-rise buildings that later became important features of First Hill. It underwent a $960,000 renovation by the Seattle Housing Authority in 1993 and now has 153 studio units of affordable housing and is managed by Housing Resources Group. The Cambridge is nestled into an extremely steep hillside site at the southeast corner of 9th Avenue and Union Street, which minimizes its considerable mass. It now sits in the shadow of I-5, Freeway Park and of Horizon House. Its exterior appearance is substantially original, except that the windows have been replaced with dark aluminum sash. The architect, Sherwood D. Ford (1872-1948), was a well-known designer of apartments and hotels. Ford, born in England, came to Seattle in 1907 after working as an architect in Montreal and Boston. He worked with fellow Englishman, John Graham, Sr., from 1907-1914. From 1914 to 1916 he took over Graham’s projects while Graham was working in Detroit. Ford practiced independently after 1917, designing the Washington Athletic Club (1930) and the Marcus Whitman Hotel in Wall Walla (1927).
The Cambridge Apartments is a ten-story reinforced concrete building, clad in red brick, stucco,and terra cotta. The structure is L-shaped in plan, with the shorter side oriented along 9th Avenue. The longer wing, which faces north, is set into the hillside and parallels Union Street, which is, at this point, a long flight of steps up to Terry Avenue. The main entrance is located at the corner of the north-facing wing, at the bottom of the hill. To the rear is a terraced garden for the residents and a parking lot. Both the 9th Avenue and the Union Street elevations are broken by three horizontal divisions made of taupe-colored terra cotta: a string course above the second story; a string course with dentils between the third and fourth stories; and a concave course above the ninth story. The windows pierce the courses, breaking the horizontal lines. The terra cotta window sills match the string courses. The flat roof is finished with a prominent metal cornice supported by bold ornamented scroll consoles. The front entrance and first floor windows are ornamented in terra cotta in the same mottled taupe color. The door surround is Classical, with edging in egg-and-dart and rope patterns. Molding at the top of the doorway gives the appearance of pilasters flanking the doorway. The words "The Cambridge" are incised into the frieze and flanked by prominent rosettes. The frieze is topped by a dentilled cornice. The entire doorway is topped with a false balcony of ornate wrought iron, providing a contrast to the Classical simplicity of the entranceway. Two small windows, each having terra cotta sills, casings and lintels, flank the entryway. The fenestration consists primarily of pairs of large tripartite windows alternating with pairs of smaller one-over-one windows, all with newer, but compatible, metal sash.

Detail for 903 Union ST / Parcel ID 197820-0225 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: ten
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
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 903 Union ST / Parcel ID 197820-0225 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 08, 2006
App v2.0.1.0