Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 800 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 7132300275 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Signal Gas Station & Auto Shop Common Name: Budd & Company Auto
Style: Gothic - Late Gothic revival, Vernacular Neighborhood:
Built By: Year Built: 1925

This building was designed by architect J.L. McCauley and constructed in 1925 for use as an auto service station and garage. It is a relatively intact example of one of the many auto-related businesses that developed along Rainier Avenue from the 1920s through the 1950s, due to its significance as a transportation corridor. As early as 1891, an electric railway connected downtown Seattle with the Rainier Valley, via Washington and Jackson Streets, to Columbia City. The line was extended to Renton by 1896. Between 1895 and 1910, several earth-moving projects were undertaken that reshaped the south downtown and tideflats areas, the Duwamish delta and the foot of Beacon Hill. The Rainier Valley became more accessible through the Jackson Street Regrade and the Dearborn Cut (1907-1909).The Jackson Street Regrade was designed to improve connections from the waterfront to the Rainier Valley. This facilitated the transportation of people and goods to and from downtown and the valley. Eventually the streetcars were replaced by autos, buses and trucks and Rainier Avenue has continued as a significant transportation corridor. 

As commercial development in the Rainier Valley expanded, especially in the 1920s, many auto-related businesses developed along Rainier Avenue. The original owner of this automotive garage was Cosimo DeSelice, an Italian man whose occupation in 1925 was “molder.” DeSelice most likely worked for the Renton Clay Co., where many Italian artisans were employed in the craft of terra-cotta production and which was conveniently located at the south end of the Rainier Avenue corridor.

Architect and engineer John L. McCauley was a resident of the Rainier Valley. He lived in Columbia City and is noted for designing nine buildings in the Columbia City business district, including the Columbia Theater (1920). McCauley was a City Inspector and Engineer in 1908 and later became a practicing architect. During the teens and 1920s he designed many commercial buildings, including stores, factories and hotels. Examples include the Bush Hotel and the Rainier Heat & Power Co. in the International District. He also designed the additions and renovations to the King County Courthouse (1929-1931) in association with Henry Bittman.


This one-story masonry garage building with a stucco exterior appears much as it did in the late 1950s. It is characterized by its corner siting and 5 prominent garage bays which wrap around the façade along the west side and the northwest corner of the building and by the Gothic-inspired false gables at the parapet. The bays where originally recessed, but the garage doors where installed in 1958 to upgrade the building’s use from a service station/garage to a full automotive transmission repair shop. The garage doors are multilight overhead rollup doors, with the exception of the corner bay door, which is a newer metal door with a single row of lights. The small addition in the rear of the building dates to 1964.

Additional Sources:

for buildings associated with J.L. McCauley:
DON Historical Sites database

Kriesman, Lawrence. “Seattle Chinatown Historic District,” National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. 1986.

Detail for 800 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 7132300275 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Transportation - Road- Related Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Timber Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Commerce, Transportation
Changes to Plan: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Tobin, Caroline. (2004) "North Rainier Valley Historic Context Statement."
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
City of Seattle DPD Microfilm Records.

Photo collection for 800 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 7132300275 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Mar 15, 2007

Photo taken Mar 15, 2007
App v2.0.1.0