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Summary for 800 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 4114600995 / Inv # DPR056

Historic Name: Madrona Park Bathhouse Common Name: Spectrum Dance Theater
Style: Other Neighborhood: Madrona
Built By: Year Built: 1928
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
This architecturally distinctive brick building was constructed in two phases between 1927 and 1928 to serve swimmers at Madrona Park. The city had originally acquired the privately developed Madrona Park in 1908. In 1890, a real estate company headed by J.D. Lowman established an electric trolley line, first called the Union Trunk Line, and developed Madrona Park along the shores of Lake Washington at its terminus. At that time, streetcar lines often terminated at a popular attraction so as to encourage real estate development along the length of the line and to increase ridership outside of regular commuting hours, especially on weekends. On its way down to the lake, the streetcar ran through a deep and picturesque ravine, making it one of the most scenic trolley rides in the city. Lowman’s real estate company initially developed the park with a boat dock, wooden bench swings, rustic benches, and paths along the lake and up the hillside with rustic shelters along the way. By 1892, the company had added a boathouse, hotel, and refreshment stand as new amenities for the park’s narrow beach area. To make the streetcar line more profitable during weekdays and the winter, a wharf and warehouse with service tracks for freight cars were built adjacent to the north side of the park. This allowed for cross-lake transportation of goods and passengers in an era when travel by boat predominated. Although Madrona Park was quite successful, the owners sold it to the city in 1908 once they had sold off most of their real estate holdings, and it was no longer necessary to maintain the attraction. Shortly after acquiring the park, the Parks Department extended the boulevard along Lake Washington through this area but had to build the road on a pile trestle to avoid the hotel and refreshment stand at the base of the hillside. This extension followed the recommendations of the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm. In 1903, the city had hired the Olmsted Brothers to develop a comprehensive plan for parks, boulevards and playgrounds in Seattle. This move was largely brought on by the public interest generated for the planned Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition and through the purchase of Woodland Park and the acquisition of Washington Park, two large tracts of mostly undeveloped land. In 1908, the plan was supplemented by an additional report, which included the extensive areas of the city annexed the previous year. Initially, the Parks Department took over management of the hotel, boathouse and dock, which were enjoyed by many visitors to the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in 1909. However, the Parks Department demolished the hotel the following year, and began filling in the shoreline to provide a wider roadbed for the boulevard. Over the next ten years, a number of improvements were made, including construction a comfort station, two tennis courts, a bathhouse, and a privately operated concession stand. These wood frame structures were constructed as temporary amenities until more permanent improvements could be built. In 1925, the Seattle Engineering Department initiated substantial improvements to the boulevard in the vicinity of Madrona Park, which improved access to the park but also increased its popularity. By 1927, it was necessary to replace the wood frame bathhouse with a permanent brick building. Initially, only the north and sound ends containing the dressing room and restroom facilities for men and women were constructed. The following year, the central portion was completed, which contained a public lobby and locker room. At the same time, the Parks Department constructed identical bathhouses at Green Lake and Seward Parks. However, the central portion of the Seward Park Bathhouse was not completed until 1940. These buildings feature Classical Revival stylistic details. This building was one of the first permanent improvement at Madrona Park. Over the years, the popularity of the beach at Madrona Park remained constant, however demand for the bathhouse facilities decreased dramatically, as it no longer was considered indecent to remove street clothes in public. The situation was the same at the Green Lake and Seward Park bathhouses. At the same time, the Parks Department was expanding its cultural arts programs and needed larger and better-equipped facilities. As a result, the underused bathhouses were rehabilitated to provide space for the Arts (Seward Park), Drama (Green Lake Park) and Dance (Madrona Park) programs of the Parks Department. In 1971, a large second-story addition was made to the bathhouse at Madrona Park, creating a Dance Studio for children and adults. The newly renovated building housed two large studios as well as a dance library. Currently, the bathhouse serves as the home for Spectrum Dance Theater, Seattle’s premier jazz dance company presenting the work of contemporary American choreographers. Since 1985, Spectrum has successfully run the dance education program at Madrona Dance Studio in cooperation with the Parks Department through a long-term lease. However, Spectrum receives no on-going financial support from the City for its programs, maintenance of the building or capital improvements. Despite its alterations, this building is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of Madrona Park.
Completed in 1928, this one-story buff brick bathhouse occupies a site along the Lake Washington shoreline on the eastern side of Madrona Park. Constructed in two phases, the original flat roof structure featured a higher center block flanked by lower end blocks on the north and south elevations. During the first phase of construction in 1927, the end blocks housing the dressing room and restroom facilities were completed with rectangular plans measuring 47 feet by 38 feet. The following year, the building was finished with the construction of the rectangular plan center portion, which measured 54 feet by 56 feet. The center block projected 5 feet beyond the end blocks on the eastern side facing the lake and 13 feet on the western side facing the boulevard. This later portion exhibited the same Classical Revival stylistic details as the earlier end blocks and contained a public lobby and locker room. Overall, the completed building measured approximately 148 feet by 38 feet and displayed a cross plan. Few alterations were made until 1971 when a large second-story addition replaced the flat roof over the center portion and the interior was reconfigured in its conversion to a dance studio. Wood shingles cover the sides of the addition’s flat roof penthouse and truncated hip roof. On all four elevations of the higher center block, cast stone diamond tiles set within brick soldiers embellish the low parapet walls along the roofline. Covered by a cast stone coping, this parapet steps up over the center entrances on the east and west elevations. The low parapet walls on the east and west elevations of the end blocks have the same diamond tile embellishments. On these elevations, the cast stone coping covering the parapet and the cast stone rope molding outlining the base of the wall continue onto the center block and function as intermediate cornices. The north and south elevations of the building have no decorative parapets. Nonetheless, these trim details give visual unity to the building’s various components. On the east elevation facing the lake, wide projecting brick piers frame the arched opening centered under the stepped parapet. Outlined by cast stone voussoirs, this opening contains an entrance door with covered sidelights below a fanlight filled with decorative brickwork. A short flight of concrete stairs provides access to this entrance. At the center of each pier, a contrasting red brick trims a narrow vertical opening filled with patterned buff brick. The same red brick lines the base of the building’s brick walls above the high concrete foundation. The window opening south of the projecting entrance pavilion retains the original multi-paned casement windows, however the opening to the north has been covered with plywood panels. The original entrance openings on the side elevations of the projecting center block remain extant but with replacement doors. The southern end block has an entrance door accessed by an elaborate modern brick stairwell. This door opening may be a later addition or alteration. The northern end block has double entrance doors at the southern end as well as two single door entrances north of center. The single entrances also appear to be later alterations. On the west elevation, the center block also has wide projecting brick piers framing the arched opening under the stepped parapet. This opening contains an elaborate multi-paned fanlight over the multi-paned double entrance doors with intact multi-paned sidelights. A cast stone plaque with a shell and sea creature motif adorns the center of the fanlight. At the center of each pier, a contrasting red brick trims a narrow vertical window opening now filled with a wood panel. The similar openings on either side of the projecting entrance pavilion do not have the contrasting brick trim but have been covered with wood panels as well. The northern and southern end blocks present blank brick walls on the west elevation. The north elevation has a blank wall with a concrete or stucco exterior finish, while the south elevation has a blank wall of hollow tile with brick buttresses. Despite the alterations noted above, this building retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 800 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 4114600995 / Inv # DPR056

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat, Other Roof Material(s): Unknown, Wood - Shingle
Building Type: Other Plan: Cross/Cruciform
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Other: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.

Photo collection for 800 Lake Washington BLVD / Parcel ID 4114600995 / Inv # DPR056

Photo taken Nov 06, 2000

Photo taken Nov 06, 2000
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