Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

This application will be offline for Maintenance Saturday Feb 4th from 6am to noon

New Search

Summary for 899 W Olympic PL W / Parcel ID 3879901870 / Inv # DPR041

Historic Name: Kinnear Park Comfort Station/Viewing Platform Common Name:
Style: Art Deco Neighborhood: Ballard Interbay Manufacturing Industrial Center
Built By: Year Built: 1929
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 1929 to serve as a combination comfort station and viewing platform. It replaced a rustic and picturesque pavilion constructed in 1894 further down the slope. The earlier building also served as a viewing platform and provided space for a root cellar, a tool and work room, and storage on its lower level. In 1889, real estate developer George Kinnear had donated fourteen acres of the wooded slope below West Olympic Way at the urging of local residents, who felt the land should be made into a park. At the time, the waters of Puget Sound reached the beach at the foot of the steep slope. The railroad tracks were built on a trestle situated in approximately its present location, and Elliott Avenue may have existed but only as a planked roadway also on a trestle. In 1890, the Parks Department cleared the land of underbrush, built winding paths down to the beach, and prepared flowerbeds. Within a few years, additional improvements had been made. Lawns were seeded on the plateaus, paths were graveled, and benches and sheltered seats were constructed along with a cottage for ladies. In 1894, the rustic pavilion was constructed to take advantage of the fine views of Puget Sound. In addition to making park improvements, the Parks Department worked constantly to repair and maintain the steep hillside, which tended to cave into the bay along the lower portion of the park. In 1903, the city hired the Olmsted Brothers to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This was supplemented by an additional report in 1908 to include the large areas annexed by the city the previous year. In their 1903 report, the Olmsted Brothers praised the view from Kinnear Park as a good sample of the miles of similar bluff parks, which they hoped the city would possess some day. The report approved of the park’s development but recommended that it be given more individuality in its design. However, over the next ten years, only a children’s play area was added. The park was very popular with picnickers and was the site of band concerts and community meetings. Serious problems with the landslides continued until about 1920 when the filling of the shoreline from Smith Cove to the northern end of downtown Seattle was completed. By 1929, it was necessary to replace the old wood frame pavilion with a new comfort station. The design of the comfort station built into the hillside along the northern side of the park took advantage of the fine view. Its upper level offered a resting place and an observatory, while the lower level contained public restroom facilities for men and women. Designed in the Art Deco style, this comfort station was one of a series of new comfort stations constructed in Seattle parks in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Located in prominent parks in fashionable residential neighborhoods, these comfort stations were notable for their attractive designs in various period revival as well as modern styles. Construction of these comfort stations at Leschi, Kinnear, Mount Baker, Magnolia, Woodland and Ravenna Parks followed a policy to build only structures that would be pleasing in design and permanent in nature. With its distinctive Art Deco stylistic features, this unique building is significant for its design and for its association with the development of the Queen Anne Hill neighborhood and Kinnear Park.
Completed in 1929, this brick comfort station and viewing platform occupies a midpoint site along the northern margin of Kinnear Park. Set into a hillside, the Art Deco building has a rooftop viewing platform accessed from the upper level on the north and restrooms accessed from the lower level on the south. This lower level opens onto a small concrete patio enclosed with a decorative wrought iron railing. The one-story structure has a higher main block flanked by lower restroom wings on the east and west elevations, creating an irregular but roughly T-shaped footprint. The main block has a flat roof and a mostly rectangular plan with canted southeast and southwest corners. Aligned along the north elevation, the wings also have flat roofs but rectangular plans. The women’s restroom is located in the eastern wing, while the men’s restroom is located in the western wing. The exterior walls of hard-fired variegated red brick rest on a high concrete foundation. The viewing platform is reached by a wide set of concrete stairs at the center of the main block’s north elevation. Decorative wrought iron railings line the stairs and terminate at the brick columns, which frame the entrance to the platform covered with a ceramic tile decking. Another similar wrought iron railing encircles the platform on a one-foot parapet wall with a cast stone coping. On all elevations of the main block, the upper walls below the cast stone coping are trimmed with a cast stone band ornamented with an Art Deco-inspired stylized leaf and floral design. The corbelled recessed opening at the center of the south elevation has a cast stone lintel embellished with a similar design. This opening contains a multi-paned transom covered by a metal grate above a wood door, which provides access to a maintenance and storage room at the center of the building. Tall narrow multi-paned metal sash windows flank the center entrance. The canted corners of the south elevation each have a similar window at the center. The restroom entrances are located on the east and west side elevations of the main block. The original case stone signs incised with "MEN" and "WOMEN" remain extant above the entrances. However, modern metal gates have replaced the original doors. The south elevations of the restroom wings each have two small horizontal openings set high on the wall, which contain multi-paned metal sash pivot windows. The east and west end walls of the wings each have a single window of this type. The north elevations of the wings are covered by the hillside. This architecturally distinctive building retains excellent physical integrity despite some signs of deterioration and some graffiti.

Detail for 899 W Olympic PL W / Parcel ID 3879901870 / Inv # DPR041

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Other, Ceramic- Tile
Building Type: Other Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
Seattle Department of Parks. Annual report/Department of Parks. Seattle, WA: 1909-1955.

Photo collection for 899 W Olympic PL W / Parcel ID 3879901870 / Inv # DPR041

Photo taken Nov 12, 2000

Photo taken Nov 12, 2000
App v2.0.1.0