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Summary for 5619 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 3330501080 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Keefe Building Common Name:
Style: Commercial, Unknown Neighborhood: Columbia City
Built By: Year Built: 1900

This commercial property is significant due to its association with the Jewish community in South Seattle.

This multi-use retail and residential property is located just south of Columbia City, on Rainier Avenue. While its date of construction is unknown, the Polk Directories show that, from 1927 through 1955, the building operated as a meat market: first as Schumann & Schumann; and, later, as Schumann’s Market. Charles and Irma Schumann were of Jewish descent and were owners of Schumann’s Market. They lived nearby in Mount Baker. After Schumann’s closed, the property was vacant for many years, through 1969. Today, it operates as a mixed-use apartment building.

Substantial residential and commercial development in South Seattle and the Rainier Valley occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue during the late nineteenth century. Development in the valley was facilitated by logging during the 1880s, the operation of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway in the 1890s, and the Jackson and Dearborn Street re-grades in the 1900s. Milling was the primary commercial industry during the last part of the nineteenth century although some agricultural activity existed. As residential development increased, Rainier Avenue gradually became the principal commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods of South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts. World War II brought additional building growth related to the wartime industry, as well as the influx of defense workers to nearby Boeing and the Duwamish shipyards. 

During the 1850s, German Jewish immigrants moved into the Central District in Seattle. Yiddish-speaking Jews from Russia and Poland also settled in the Central District and Pioneer Square. Around the turn of the nineteenth century, Sephardic Jews from the Isle of Rhodes and Turkey immigrated to the area. Those from Turkey formed the Sephardic Bikur Holim congregation, and those from the Isle of Rhodes formed Ezra Bessarott Turkish congregation. During the early 1950s, as many African American families moved into the Central District of Seattle and as Jewish families increased in prosperity, many Jewish families began moving out of the Central District to South Seattle, the Eastside, and North Seattle. While a few Jewish families lived in South Seattle during the first few decades of the twentieth century, movement southward began on a larger scale in the 1950s with move of a number of Orthodox families. During the late 1950s and 1960s, several congregations also relocated, including the Ezra Bessaroth congregation, Sephardic Bikur Holim, and Bikur Cholim.

This commercial property represents the early presence of Jews in South Seattle. The owner’s personal residence in Mount Baker, an exclusive and upper-income residential neighborhood in South Seattle, also reflects the increasing prosperity of Jews throughout the twentieth century.

The trapezoidal lot for this multi-use residential and retail commercial property was platted for Hillman City Division No.1. It is located in a commercial area in the northwest quadrant of the Rainier Avenue and Orcas Street intersection. While the exact construction date for this commercial-style building is unknown, it was built during the early 1900s. This two-story building has an irregular floor plan and a distinctive corner entry that is oriented towards the street intersection. A semicircular bay at the second story overhangs the entryway and is supported by a pair of columns. The building’s flat roof has a moderate eaves overhang. The brick cladding has a brick belt-course along the east and south facades. One-over-one hung-sash windows are located along the second story of the building while large fixed display windows punctuate the first floor of the east elevation, closest to Rainier Avenue. The first floor of the south elevation has significantly smaller casement windows, indicating this was likely a service area for the retail space. The apartment entryway is located at the north end of the east elevation and faces onto Rainier Avenue. It has a wood-framed door with an adjacent display casement window. In general, wood casings and door surrounds are intact, although most display windows on the east elevation have been replaced. An exterior staircase is located on the west, rear elevation. While some elements of the building have been altered, in general it retains many of its historical features, including the floor plan, scale, massing, circular entryway, windows, and brick detailing. Not only does it contribute to the architectural character of this retail strip, but it also continues to be a significant architectural feature in Columbia City.

Detail for 5619 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 3330501080 / Inv # 0

Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Unknown
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Unknown Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Interior: Unknown
Major Bibliographic References
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Dorpat, Paul, “101 The Railroad Avenue Elevated,” Seattle, Now and Then, Seattle: Tartu Publications, 1984.
Bagley, Clarence B. History of Seattle, Washington. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1916.
Berner, Richard. Seattle 1921-1940: From Boom to Bust. Seattle: Charles Press, 1992.

Photo collection for 5619 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 3330501080 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jan 07, 2010

Photo taken Jan 07, 2010

Photo taken Jan 07, 2010

Photo taken Jan 07, 2010
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