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Summary for 814 NE 75th ST NE / Parcel ID 0525049003 / Inv # SCL012

Historic Name: North Distribution Substation/North Substation Machine Shop Common Name: North Substation Building B
Style: Art Deco, Art Deco - PWA Moderne, Other - Industrial Neighborhood: Roosevelt
Built By: Year Built: 1930
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.
According to building permit records, City Light constructed this 4,400 volt substation in 1930 on the southeast corner of the site and to the east of the original 1923-24 receiving substation. It appears that it was built as a distribution substation, however King County assessor records identify it as a machine shop in the later 1930s. Six years earlier, the first substation had been built on the site in anticipation of receiving power from the new Gorge Plant on the Skagit River under construction since 1919. It was the second major receiving substation built in Seattle by City Light and the first substation connected with the Skagit River Project, which eventually saw the construction of three major dams. In March 1902, Seattle voters had approved the establishment of a municipally owned lighting plant in order to ensure good street lighting service at reasonable rates. Over the next twenty years, City Light constructed the Cedar Falls Plant, the first municipally-owned hydroelectric plant in the United States, the Lake Union Hydroelectric Plant, and the Lake Union Steam Plant before turning to its largest endeavor, the Gorge Plant on the Skagit River. The expansion of power plants, transmission lines and distribution facilities was necessary to keep ahead of the almost insatiable demand for more electricity by ever-increasing numbers of residential, commercial and industrial customers. Built in 1904-05 at Seventh Avenue and Yesler Way, the Yesler Substation first received power from the two 1,200-kilowatt generators at the recently constructed Cedar Falls Plant in 1905. Nearly two decades later, the North Substation began receiving power generated by the two 30,000-kilowatt generators of the Gorge Plant on September 27, 1924. Five years later, an additional 33,000-kilowatt generator was installed at the Gorge Plant, which may have necessitated the construction of this facility the following year. Unlike the larger receiving substation, this reinforced concrete structure has little exterior ornamentation or embellishment, however it is a good example of an Industrial Vernacular version of what has been identified as the Classical or PWA Moderne style. Stripped of its classical ornament, the design still maintains the composition and massing of Beaux Arts-inspired buildings. This style was the hallmark of the Public Works Administration, one of the important 1930s Depression-era relief agencies, which funded large and small construction projects around the country. The PWA-funded 1937 South Receiving Substation is a more fully realized example of this style. With its distinctive stylistic features, this structure is significant for its design and for its association with the growth and development of City Light.
Completed in 1930, this one-story distribution substation is situated at the southeastern corner of a site roughly bounded by NE 75th and 77th Streets and by 8th and 9th Avenues NE. The site contains two additional buildings, a 1923-24 receiving substation located along NE 75th Street and a 1953-54 rectifier substation located along 9th Avenue NE. Electrical equipment fills the majority of the fenced site, which covers more than two city blocks. Set on high base, this reinforced concrete building has a rectangular plan, which measures approximately 79 feet by 46 feet, and a flat roof with a clerestory monitor. The Industrial Vernacular structure exhibits Classical or PWA Moderne stylistic features, including the use of narrow and wide piers to separate the fenestration in vertical, recessed panels, a smooth stucco surface, and low-relief cast stone door surrounds for the entrances at either end of the principal east elevation. The southern entrance has steps leading up to modern double doors, while the northern entrance has a low ramp, which now terminates at a single door set in concrete within the original double door opening. The four window openings between these entrances rest on a cast stone decorative band, which lines the upper margin of the concrete base above a deep reveal, circling the building. These openings have been covered with plywood panels. The five openings on the south elevation retain the original multi-paned industrial steel sash windows below a parapet, which steps up over the center three windows. Below these windows, a driveway leads down to covered double doors at the basement level. The stepped walls on either side of the driveway have copings of cast stone. The west elevation has four similar windows across the center between a single entrance door at the northern end and a large overhead metal door set high in the wall at the southern end. The north elevation has five windows, with two larger openings alternating between three smaller. The building’s clerestory monitor has four openings set with multi-paned steel sash windows on the east and west elevations and two on north and south with a louvered opening at the center. Despite some stucco deterioration, this distinctive building retains excellent physical integrity.

Detail for 814 NE 75th ST NE / Parcel ID 0525049003 / Inv # SCL012

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat, Monitor Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Government - Public Works Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Science & Engineering, Transportation
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Department of Lighting. Annual report / City of Seattle, Department of Lighting. Seattle, WA: 1910-1974.

Photo collection for 814 NE 75th ST NE / Parcel ID 0525049003 / Inv # SCL012

Photo taken Jul 25, 2000
App v2.0.1.0