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Summary for 200 8 AVE / Parcel ID 1991201375 / Inv #

Historic Name: Seattle Unity Church of Truth Common Name: Unity Church of Truth
Style: Modern Neighborhood: South Lake Union
Built By: Year Built: 1960
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The Seattle Unity Church of Truth is a somewhat audacious example of very early 1960s Modernism, applied to church architecture. It was designed by the architecture firm of Young Richardson & Carleton in 1960. Young Richardson & Carleton, which later became TRA Architects, was one of Seattle’s most successful architecture firms, from its founding in 1920 to the 1990s, although it had a succession of partners and names. As Young and Richardson, the firm also designed the controversial (at the time), but award-winning Modernist Seattle Parks Department Headquarters of 1948, located on the west side of Denny Park. The Seattle Unity Church of Truth building is significant as a 1960s Modernist building by one of Seattle’s pre-eminent architecture firms. The architecture firm of Young Richardson and Carleton began as the partnership of Schack, Young and Myers in 1920. During the 1920s, Schack Young and Myers were especially well-known for their work on the planning and design of numerous buildings for the city of Longview, Washington and specifically for the Hotel Monticello. James Schack, during the 1900s, working with Daniel Huntington, had also headed the partnership of Schack and Huntington, which designed the First Methodist Episcopal Church and the Morrison Hotel (the original Arctic Club). After David J. Myers’ departure from Schack Young and Myers in 1929, Arrigo M. Young and James H. Schack continued the practice until Schack’s death in 1933. Originally educated as a structural engineer at the University of Michigan, Arrigo Young also became an architect. He established an independent practice in architecture and engineering, before forming a partnership in 1941 with Stephen H. Richardson, an MIT graduate in architecture. At least into the 1930s, the firm worked in a variety of historical styles. By the late 1940s, the firm had clearly transitioned to Modernism, as exemplified in the Seattle Parks Department Headquarters in Denny Park (See 130). By the time of Young’s death in 1954 to 1956, the firm was known as Young, Richardson, Carleton and Detlie, but John Stuart Detlie soon left the firm. From 1956 to 1967, the firm was known as Young Richardson and Carleton. William Hodder Carleton attended Stanford University and obtained a M. Arch. Graduate from the University of Washington. In addition to the Seattle Unity Church of Truth, Young Richardson and Carleton designed the Bloedel Hall addition to St. Mark’s Cathedral between 1957 and 1959, the Group Health Cooperative Hospital Building of 1958-1960 and concourses at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. In 1967, the firm became The Richardson Associates, and then, simply TRA, at a time when architecture firms preferred to be have short names, consisting of three to four letters. It remained one of the largest and pre-eminent Seattle firms, responsible for major public buildings and airports not only in Seattle, but throughout the United States and abroad, until its demise in the 1990s.
This 1960s Modernist building includes what is essentially a one-story church structure, in addition to a larger two-story wing with a large rectangular footprint. It is sited on the northeast corner of 8th Avenue North and John Street, with façades along Denny Park, as well as 8th Avenue North. The exterior structure is built in concrete and concrete block, with buff brick veneer to highlight the exterior of the church. On the interior, it also includes steel columns and beams, open web steel joists and non-structural interior frame walls. The irregularly shaped plan consists of the large rectangle, corresponding to the two-story wing, with the longer dimension facing 8th Avenue North. Attached to the rectangle is a stubby L-shape (placed as though turned counterclockwise and ninety degrees to John Street), whose 8th Avenue façade is set back from the façade of the higher wing. Protruding from the south side of this shorter recessed portion of the 8th Avenue elevation is a modified ellipse, an egg-shape, corresponding to the chapel. In three-dimensions, the chapel appears on the corner of 8th Avenue and John Street as a concrete rounded structure, mainly clad on the exterior in buff brick, with a conical roof set inside its concrete capped parapet. An important element in both the facades, the chapel wing along John Street is adjoined to the east by a lower rectilinear elevation, also clad in buff brick veneer, with ribbon windows at the top and a large overhanging roof, with copper fascia. Close to this lower rectilinear portion of the building, are steps and a landing shielded by a concrete railing. The railing is pierced by vertical openings, which run the length of the John Street elevation, and wraps into the south portion of the 8th Avenue North façade in front of the curved chapel structure. Along 8th Avenue North, there is a main entry to both wings, set in the recessed courtyard between the curved chapel wing to the south and the larger two story structure to the north. The entry, which consists of three sets of wooden double doors, is also recessed and highlighted by an overhang, which has the signature copper fascia. This overhanging metal element is also continued at the same level along the short south façade of the larger wing. On 8th Avenue North (facing west), the main building presents a flat façade, clad at the lower level in buff brick and above in concrete. Ribbons of rectangular glazing run the length of the six bays at both the first and second levels.

Detail for 200 8 AVE / Parcel ID 1991201375 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Metal, Other Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Varied roof lines Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition, Metal
Building Type: Religion - Religious facility Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: Various
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Religion
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Drawings, Microfiche Files, Department of Planning and Development.

Photo collection for 200 8 AVE / Parcel ID 1991201375 / Inv #

Photo taken Feb 17, 2005
App v2.0.1.0