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Summary for 1120 John ST / Parcel ID 1986200525 / Inv #

Historic Name: Seattle Times Building Common Name: Seattle Times Building
Style: Art Deco, Beaux Arts - Neoclassical Neighborhood: South Lake Union
Built By: Year Built: 1931
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
This significant building ensemble was designed for the Seattle Times by Seattle architect R. C. Reamer and constructed by the contractors Teufel and Carlson. Its construction was begun in 1930 and completed in 1931. The building is a City of Seattle landmark and was nominated in 1978, based on both its architectural design and its association with a famous local architect, R. C. Reamer. The building was commissioned by Colonel Clarence B. Blethen, the Seattle Times’ publisher and editor and the son of the newspaper’s original founder. The Seattle Times itself was founded by Colonel Alden Blethen in 1896 and really began to thrive, as did many early Seattle enterprises, as a result of the Klondike gold rush, a year later. The newspaper’s previous headquarters tended to be located on sites in downtown Seattle proper, including: the old Boston Block at Second Avenue and Columbia St; Second Avenue and Union St; and the Times Square Building between Fourth and Fifth Avenues, between Olive and Stewart streets. The present site was chosen because it was close to the business district and yet sufficiently remote, that further expansion of the newspaper’s headquarters would not be difficult. The office wing was clearly meant to be slightly more ornate, while the “plant or mechanical” wing, situated along Fairview Avenue, was supposed to appear more utilitarian. The office wing is virtually intact, while the more utilitarian wing has had few obvious changes to plan or cladding, but has replacement window sash. The architect of the Seattle Times Building, Robert Chambers Reamer, was born in Oberlin, Ohio in 1872. Not surprisingly, he began his architectural career in the midwest of the United States and worked in both Detroit and Chicago until 1896. He moved west to San Diego, California, and in 1897, formed a partnership with architect Samuel Zimmer. He became more well-known in the early 1900s as the designer of the Old Faithful Inn and of similar prototype rustic lodges in Yellowstone Park. He later designed the Lake Quinault Lodge in Quinault, Washington, completed in 1926. While he became a master at designing rustic lodges, a few years after his arrival in Seattle in 1916, he turned his hand to both urban buildings and theaters, particularly within Seattle’s budding Metropolitan Tract. Among these buildings were the Skinner Building (1925-26), the Fifth Avenue Theater of 1925-1926, 1411 Fourth Avenue and the Great Northern Building, both of 1928-29. This last building, in particular, shows the same simplicity, but reliance on Art Deco motifs, exhibited in the Seattle Times Building. Outside of Seattle, Reamer is also known for the Fox Theater in Spokane (1931), the Bellingham Hotel (1930) and the Lewis and Clark Hotel in Centralia (1926). One of the most interesting projects was the Weyerhaueser Experimental House of 1935, which was built to demonstrate the use of a wide variety of wood products. One of Reamer’s last major and notable works was the Edmond Meany Hotel in the University District, also designed in the Art Deco style and completed in 1932. That building was also chosen to be included in the American Institute of Architects’ traveling exhibition of one hundred distinguished buildings in the United States, which toured the U.S. and Great Britain in 1938. Reamer also died in that year. For further information, please see the City of Seattle nomination and Kate Krafft et al., Addendum to the Seattle Commons Final Environmental Impact Statement Dated May 11, 1995 (Focused on Aesthetic, Historic and Cultural Impacts of the Demolition of Potential Landmark Buildings).
The original office wing of the Seattle Times Building, which dates from 1931, is located at the northwest corner of Fairview Avenue North and John Street. Two stories tall, it has a footprint of 135 feet by 68 feet. Its design is distinguished by the repetition of distinctive architectural elements and subtle Art Deco ornamentation. Exterior concrete walls have a veneer of cream colored Indiana limestone above a granite base. Typical bays consist of two floors of windows with transoms, set in groups of four along the south elevation and in groups of five along the east elevation. The windows are separated from each other by mullions in turned wood. The groups of windows at each level are separated by spandrels, faced with decorative panels in cast aluminum. Separating the bays, are piers, clad in Indiana limestone, with shallow and wide fluting. The recessed main entrance, situated along John Street, includes an aluminum grill, decorated with octagons and spirals, in addition to floral and wave motifs. Floral patterns are also carved in the limestone bas-reliefs to each side of the entrance. Another distinguishing feature is the Art Deco pendant light fixture, set just outside the recessed entry area. Across the south and east elevations, above the fluted piers, there is a continuous, horizontal band of stone. Above the main south facing entrance, this band is incised with large letters, which spell out “SEATTLE TIMES.” Above the band, a simple cresting with repeated anthemion motifs distinguishes the parapet level. Along Fairview Avenue, to the east of the more ornate office wing of building, is a three story exposed concrete and glass wing, built to house the printing plant and garage. It was described, when it was first built, as the “plant or mechanical wing.” Its simpler façade is distinguished by repeated, recessed bays, set between piers. Because of the downward slope of the grade along Fairview, the top of the parapet of the three story wing lines up with that of the main building. The office wing and its south elevation were extended to the west by a 1947 addition, which added two more bays. In 1967, there was another major addition to the office building, which itself was modernized in 1979. Subsequent additions to the complex have not detracted from the basic architectural integrity of the original office and “plant or mechanical” wings of the original building.

Detail for 1120 John ST / Parcel ID 1986200525 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: LR, INV
Cladding(s): Concrete, Metal, Stone Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: Various
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Communications, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
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.
City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, Microfilm Records.
Krafft, Katheryn H., et al., Addendum to Seattle Commons/South Lake Union Plan final environmental impact statement date May 11, 1995. Seattle : City of Seattle, Department of Construction and Land Use, 1995
Kreisman, Lawrence, Office of Urban Conservation. “Landmark Nomination Form - Seattle Times Building.” 14 July 1978

Photo collection for 1120 John ST / Parcel ID 1986200525 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 14, 2005

Photo taken

Photo taken Aug 22, 2005

Photo taken Aug 22, 2005

Photo taken Aug 22, 2005
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