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Summary for 4850 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1702901040 / Inv #

Historic Name: Toby Building Common Name:
Style: Commercial, Vernacular Neighborhood: Columbia City
Built By: Year Built: 1903
The Toby building was constructed in 1903 by Simeon T. Toby (1857-1926), a Seattle businessman. Originally a two story brick building, it was raised to three stories and a basement was excavated in 1914. Toby opened his bank in 1910. Because he didn’t have the capital needed to obtain a state charter, he opened a private bank called the S. T. Toby Bank. The following year it became the Rainier Valley State Bank. In 1923, under the leadership of Toby and his son, Thomas S. Toby, the bank moved across the street to a newly constructed building at 4824 Rainier Avenue S. Over the years, the Toby building was occupied by many community businesses including a succession of drugstores in the main first floor space, the printing office of the Rainier Valley Citizen, Grayson Brothers Hardware and Furniture, the Columbia Station Post Office (1905-1911), Verhagens transfer and storage company (which became Rainier Furniture Co. at 5000 Rainier Ave. S.), and a pool hall in the basement. The upper floors were residential. The building underwent a complete restoration in 1992, with the approval of the Columbia City Review Committee and Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. The Toby building is one of three, three-story brick buildings the historic district and prominently anchors the corner that it stands on, visible as you enter the district. It served a significant function throughout the history of Columbia City, not only as a prominent institution, but as the location of many smaller businesses. Its builder, Simeon T. Toby was an active community member as was his son. Toby is credited with securing the construction of a road over Beacon Hill from Columbia City, called Columbian Way. A plaque on the side of the building commemorates that event. His son carried on the family banking business after Toby’s death in 1926. The bank merged with the First National Corporation and became known as the First Rainier Valley Bank in 1928.
This three story commercial vernacular building is located on a corner lot. The building is of frame construction and is supported by a concrete foundation. The building has a rectangular plan and a flat roof with decorative cornice. A two-story polygonal projecting bay is located on the northwest corner of the front elevation. Below the projecting bay, which is supported by a column, the corner of the building is truncated to accommodate an angled corner entry. The majority of the building is clad in brick; the projecting bay is clad in terra cotta. The fenestration consists of evenly spaced modern one-over-one single hung windows. The original window openings are intact and are topped with terra cotta segmental relieving arches with brick sills below. The building has two storefront bays on the front elevation, the main entrance is located on the corner and a smaller storefront entrance is located on the opposite end of the elevation. A single storefront and an entrance to the upper floors are located on the north side elevation. The storefronts consist of expansive glass windows with wood surrounds and transom windows above. Decorative glazed tile are located below the storefront windows. The building remains largely intact despite minimal alterations to the storefronts and the projecting polygonal bay.

Detail for 4850 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1702901040 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Ceramic tile, Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Bagley, Clarence B. History of Seattle. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1916.
Centennial History, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, 1853-1991, Pioneers of Columbia City. Seattle, Washington, 1992.
Anderson, Buzz. “S.T. Toby Built a Bank in Valley,” South District Journal, 1/19/2000.
Sellers, Thomas E. “Fidelity’s Toby, Memories in The Bank at Age 86,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, page A 11, 9/18/1978.
Seattle Times, “Simeon Toby, Rainier Valley Banker, Dead,” 1/8/1926.

Photo collection for 4850 Rainier AVE / Parcel ID 1702901040 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 22, 2004
App v2.0.1.0