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Summary for 1613 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 1977200015 / Inv #

Historic Name: Ames Building Common Name: MJA Building
Style: Beaux Arts - Neoclassical Neighborhood: Commercial Core
Built By: Year Built: 1914
 
Significance
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This property is directly associated with the initial period (1902-1920) of downtown commercial expansion that occurred due to local economic prosperity after the Klondike Gold Rush and in tandem with explosive population growth and suburban residential development. During this era, modern urban architectural scale began with the construction of the earliest steel-frame highrise buildings and the establishment of a concentration of banking enterprises and department stores along Second Avenue from Cherry Street to Pike Street. The initial regrading of Denny Hill and the commercial redevelopment of the former University Grounds (University/Metropolitan Tract) were major factors that facilitated northward and eastward commercial expansion. In 1914, the owners of the Frederick and Nelson Department Store purchased property with the intention of building a large, five-story store at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, thus solidifying the location of the future downtown retail core. A significant number of extant commercial properties dating from this era remain within the downtown commercial core, including: numerous hotels, two-story business blocks and banks, and early highrise commercial buildings, as well as specialty and department stores, clubhouses, apartment houses and theater buildings. This building is one of a collection of extant two-story commercial block buildings (mostly dating from the 1920s) that share similar building form, scale, exterior cladding and ornate architectural treatment. Like commercial highrise construction of this era, they are typically located at a prominent corner of a downtown block with matching facades at each elevation; however, mid-block locations with a single façade were also commonly constructed. Their most distinctive features are glazed terra cotta cladding and/or other terra cotta components that both reveal the underlying structural system and allowed architects to utilize a wide range of eclectic architecture styles that were particularly popular during this era. In this case the details are drawn from the Classical design mode, which was heavily used in terra cotta design during the 1910s; whereas, in the 1920s a wider range of popular revival styles were designed and constructed. During this era, neighborhood commercial districts also flourished with similar building types. Other extant terra cotta clad two-story, commercial block buildings that are located downtown and fit within this category include: the Old National Bank (Henry James, 1922), Broderick Building (John Graham, Sr., 1922), Liberty Building (Nevins and Horrocks, 1924), Centennial Building (Henry Bittman, 1925), Mann Building/Embassy Theater (Henry Bittman, 1926) and the much altered/partly demolished Pande Cameron Building (Henry Bittman, 1928). Similar extant two-story, commercial block buildings that are partially clad or decorated with terra cotta ornament include: the S.J. Holmes Building (J. Lister Holmes, 1924); Jordan Building (Lawton & Moldenhour, 1920) and Colony Club ((John Creutzer, 1928). This is the earliest extant downtown example of this building type. It was designed by a highly regarded Seattle architect, Charles Bebb and constructed in 1914 at a turning point in the northward expansion of the commercial and retail core. That year the owners of the Frederick and Nelson Department Store purchased property with the intention of building a large, five-story store at Fifth Avenue and Pine Street, thus signaling the future location of the downtown retail core. Edgar Ames, Esq. is the name of the owner listed on the original architectural drawings. Ames (1868-1944) was a prominent Seattle businessman who migrated to Seattle from Chicago in 1895. He was the owner of a construction firm, Seattle general Contract Company that later became known as the Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging Company, responsible for several major local and regional construction projects. The construction of the Ames Building appears to have been done for personal real estate investment purposes. Charles Bebb (1856-1942) was educated in London and at a preparatory school in Switzerland before attending the University of Lausanne. He also studied engineering at the School of Mines in London and worked as a railroad engineer in South Africa before moving to the United States. By 1888, he had been hired by Adler and Sullivan in Chicago as the chief superintendent architect on the building of the Auditorium Building. In 1890, he was sent by Adler and Sullivan to superintend the building of the Seattle Opera House. The project was never built and late in 1890, Bebb, still in the employ of Adler and Sullivan, returned to Chicago. However, he returned to Seattle in September 1893 and became a designer for the local Denny Clay Company. His work there is credited with making the Denny Clay Company a leading producer of architectural terra cotta on the West Coast. By 1898, he had an independent architectural practice and by 1901, a partnership with Louis Leonard Mendel, who had also previously worked for Adler and Sullivan. The firm of Bebb and Mendel are particularly well known for the design of the Corona Building (1903) and the Hoge Building (1911). The firm was also responsible for the design of the Washington State Pavilion (destroyed) at the Seattle Alaska Yukon Exposition in 1909. After the Bebb and Mendel Partnership dissolved in 1914, Bebb formed a successful partnership with Carl F. Gould. Both partners appear to have completed prior projects, under their own names, during the initial period of the partnership, which appears to be the case with this building. This is a highly intact and well- preserved early example of a distinct downtown property type, a two-story, terra cotta clad commercial block. It is a noteworthy early example of commercial block design executed in the Classical mode utilizing glazed terra cotta cladding and other terra cotta components and was designed by a highly regarded Seattle architect, Charles Bebb. [However, it was previously nominated as a City Landmark and denied designation in April 2004.]
 
Appearance
Located at the SW corner of Second Avenue and Stewart Street, this two-story commercial block was designed and constructed to house retail and commercial tenants and a small business college. It continues to be used for retail and commercial office purposes. The building is a trapezoidal shape due to its adjacency to Stewart Street, which runs at an angle to the principal layout and street grid pattern of the commercial core to the south. It measures 95’ at Second Avenue, 113’ at Stewart Street, 62’ at the alley side and 108’ at the adjacent building/southern property line. It exhibits a two-part commercial block façade composition and is distinguished by exterior design elements in the Classical design mode. The masonry and concrete structure includes a foundation and basement and is entirely clad with cream-color terra cotta at the two primary facades and common brick at the alley elevation. The facades are divided into six bays at Stewart Street and five bays at Second Avenue and a prominent rounded entry bay is oriented toward the street intersection. A narrow secondary entry bay is located at the south end of the Second Avenue elevation. The primary facades are distinguished by terra cotta cladding at the storefront level piers, decorated terra cotta pilasters between the upper floor level window openings, and a continuous projecting terra cotta cornice with denticulated trim and articulated parapet wall. Along the 2nd floor line are a series of small decorative terra cotta panels that correspond with the pilasters above. This decorative band is surmounted by a narrow intermediate cornice. This element in conjunction with the curved cornice further accentuates the trapezoidal building form and the prominence of the building entry element. Large rectangular storefront bays remain entirely intact and include tripartite and multi-pane window transoms that are the same or very similar in design/character to those recorded in 1937. The display windows and bulkheads may be more modern replacements but are in character with the historic design. The second floor level windows are large framed Chicago type windows with operable side panels and include distinctive curved and glazed members at the rounded corner above the recessed entry vestibule. All of these windows appear to be original or consistent with the original design. The alley elevation windows are double-hung type with divided 2/2 and 3/3 lights individually set within the plain masonry wall. There have been very few alterations made to the exterior of the building, which remains in good condition. The secondary entry appears to have been remodeled and modernized with some terra cotta ornament removed. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1613 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 1977200015 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Other
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Integrity
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Interior: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Boyle, Susan. "121 Stewart Street Building" - Landmark Nomination, submitted January 2004.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.
Seattle Monorail Greenline EIS - Historic Resource Form prepared by ENTRIX (2003).

Photo collection for 1613 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 1977200015 / Inv #


Photo taken May 23, 2006
App v2.0.1.0