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Summary for 7312 W Green Lake DR W / Parcel ID / Inv # DPR005

Historic Name: Green Lake Park Bathhouse Common Name: Bathhouse Theater
Style: Other Neighborhood: Green Lake
Built By: Year Built: 1928
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.
This architecturally distinctive brick building was constructed in two phases between 1927 and 1928 to serve swimmers at the West Green Lake Beach. Within thirty years of the first settlement at Green Lake in 1869, the area had been transformed from dense forests to an attractive residential neighborhood served by a streetcar line, which connected it with downtown Seattle. In the late 1880s, entrepreneur William D. Wood acquired more than 600 acres of real estate around Green Lake and then platted and promoted his holdings. In order to stimulate development, Wood convinced Dr. Edward C. Kilbourne, one of the founders of Fremont, to extend his streetcar line from Fremont to Green Lake in 1891. Together, they organized the Green Lake Electric Railway, which Wood managed, and developed a ten-acre amusement park at its terminus on the northwestern corner of Green Lake. The same year, the City of Seattle annexed the Green Lake area along with other northern suburbs. In 1903, the city hired the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This move was largely brought on by the public interest generated for the planned Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and through the purchase of Woodland Park and the acquisition of Washington Park, two large tracts of mostly undeveloped land. The Olmsted Brothers recommended the acquisition of Green Lake and the creation of a park and boulevard surrounding the lake. Unfortunately, settlement had reached to the shoreline by this time, providing little opportunity to create the park economically. As a solution, the Olmsted Brothers recommended lowering the level of the lake and filling in the wetlands to create more usable parkland. In 1905, the State of Washington deeded ownership of the lake bottom to the city, which proceeded to acquire the remainder of the shoreline through purchase and condemnation, including the former amusement park site. Beginning in 1911, the level of the lake was lowered seven feet, which added 100 acres of dry land once it had been graded and filled. This process was completed by the early 1930s with the filling of the southern end of the lake using material excavated from Woodland Park during the construction of Aurora Avenue in 1932. By 1909, the amusement park at the northwest corner of the lake had long ceased to operate and had become known as the "Old Picnic Grounds." In 1914, the Parks Department constructed the first frame bathing station at the southwest corner of the lake where Guy Phinney had developed his Woodland Park. Within a year, it was necessary to enlarge the structure due to its popularity. However, its location proved to be problematic due to frequent water stagnation, which tended to attract waterfowl. As a temporary solution, the Parks Department moved the structure to the northern end of the lake in 1922. Five years later, the first phase of a new brick bathhouse was completed at the site of the "Old Picnic Grounds." Initially, only the north and sound ends containing the dressing room and restroom facilities for men and women were constructed. The following year, the central portion was completed, which contained a public lobby and locker room. At the same time, the Parks Department constructed identical bathhouses at Madrona and Seward Parks. However, the central portion of the Seward Park Bathhouse was not completed until 1940. These buildings feature Classical Revival stylistic details. This building was one of the first permanent improvements at Green Lake Park. Shortly after this building was completed in 1928, the Parks Department began construction of the Green Lake Field House on the eastern side of the lake, which opened the following year. Among its many functions, this building offered similar facilities for the swimmers at the East Green Lake Beach. Over the years, the popularity of the West Green Lake Beach remained constant, however demand for the bathhouse facilities decreased dramatically, as it no longer was considered indecent to remove street clothes in public. The situation was the same at the Seward and Madrona Park bathhouses. At the same time, the Parks Department was expanding its cultural arts programs and needed larger and better-equipped facilities. As a result, the underused bathhouses were rehabilitated to provide space for the Arts (Seward Park), Drama (Green Lake Park) and Dance (Madrona Park) programs of the Parks Department. In 1970, the bathhouse at Green Lake Park was remodeled into full facilities for a 130-seat theater suitable for a year-round production schedule. For the first ten years, the city operated the theater before leasing it to a private company. For 18 years, Arne Zaslove directed the company at the Bathhouse Theatre before declaring bankruptcy in early 1999. After sitting vacant for more than a year, the city selected the Seattle Public Theater to operate the stage. This distinctive building is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Green Lake neighborhood and Green Lake Park.
Completed in 1928, this one-story buff brick bathhouse occupies a site along the northwest shoreline of Green Lake. Constructed in two phases, the flat roof structure features a higher center block flanked by lower end blocks on the north and south elevations. During the first phase of construction in 1927, the flat roof end blocks were completed. These rectangular plan structures featured small projecting bays off the inner ends of the west elevations. These bays contained entrances to the dressing room and restroom facilities housed within the end blocks. The women’s facilities occupied the northern block, while the men’s facilities occupied the southern block. The following year, the building was finished with the construction of the rectangular plan center portion. The flat roof center block projected several feet beyond the end blocks on the eastern side facing the lake and more than ten feet on the western side facing the wide path circling the lake. This later portion exhibited the same Classical Revival stylistic details as the earlier end blocks and contained a public lobby and locker room. Overall, the completed building displayed a cross plan. Few alterations were made until 1971 when the interior was reconfigured in its conversion to a theater. The installation of rooftop heating and ventilation ductwork and mechanical equipment was the primary alteration to the appearance of the exterior. On all four elevations of the higher center block, cast stone diamond tiles set within brick soldiers embellish the low parapet walls along the roofline. Covered by a cast stone coping, this parapet steps up over the center entrances on the east and west elevations. The low parapet walls on the east and west elevations of the end blocks have the same diamond tile embellishments. On these elevations, the cast stone coping covering the parapet and the cast stone rope molding outlining the base of the wall continue onto the center block and function as intermediate cornices. The north and south elevations of the building have no decorative parapets. Nonetheless, these trim details give visual unity to the building’s various components. On the east elevation facing the lake, wide projecting brick piers frame the arched opening centered under the stepped parapet. Outlined by cast stone voussoirs, this opening contains a fanlight filled with decorative brickwork above an entrance door into the lifeguard office. At the center of each pier, a contrasting red brick trims a narrow vertical opening filled with patterned buff brick. The same red brick lines the base of the building’s brick walls above the high concrete foundation. The window openings on either side of the projecting entrance pavilion retain the original multi-paned casement windows. The original entrance openings on the side elevations of the projecting center block have been filled. The southern end block has a single entrance door into the men’s restroom adjacent to a larger opening with double metal doors. Both door openings are later alterations. The northern end block has double entrance doors at the southern end as well as a single door entrances at the center and another set of double doors at the northern end. The single door and the northern double doors are also later alterations. On the west elevation, the entrance bays of the original end blocks flank the later center block. The original entrance openings within the bays remain extant below the decorative cast stone sign panels above the doors. Each panel has a border of egg and dart molding around a shell at the center with "WOMEN" or "MEN" in raised letters and fanciful sea creatures along the bottom. The center block on the south elevation also has wide projecting brick piers framing the arched opening under the stepped parapet. This opening contains an elaborate multi-paned fanlight over the modern double entrance doors, which replaced the originals. A cast stone plaque with a shell and sea creature motif adorns the center of the fanlight. A sheet metal marquee installed on the façade above the arched opening partially covers the fanlight. At the center of each pier, a contrasting red brick trims a narrow vertical window opening now filled with an interior sign. The similar openings on either side of the projecting entrance pavilion have been filled with brick. The side elevations of the projecting center block contain entrance openings, which may be later alterations. The northern and southern end blocks present blank brick walls on the west elevation. The north and south elevations have blank walls of painted hollow tile. Despite the alterations noted above, this building retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 7312 W Green Lake DR W / Parcel ID / Inv # DPR005

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Other Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Recreation and Culture - Sports Facility Plan: Cross/Cruciform
Structural System: Brick No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
Seattle Department of Parks. Annual report/Department of Parks. Seattle, WA: 1909-1955.
Fiset, Louis. "Green Lake -- Thumbnail History," The Green Lake News, July-August 2000, p. 4-5.

Photo collection for 7312 W Green Lake DR W / Parcel ID / Inv # DPR005

Photo taken Jul 17, 2000

Photo taken Jul 17, 2000
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