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Summary for 5021 COLORADO AVE / Parcel ID 3573200920 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Liquid Carbonic Co./ Liquid Carbonic Pacific Co. Common Name: Old Liquid Carbonic Company
Style: Beaux Arts - Neoclassical, Other - Industrial Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1930
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.

Plat: Industrial Add, Block: 21, Lots: 4-7

The Austin Company designed the building for the Liquid Carbonic Company in 1930. Although the building was clearly designed for utilitarian purposes, the  Colorado Avenue South façade, in particular, is architecturally significant. It is reminiscent of some of John Graham Senior’s work, including the former Ford Motor Plant in Seattle. Original drawings suggest that although the other elevations differ, they all have common characteristics, including common brick cladding, cast stone trim and multi-pane steel sash.

Although the title block of the original drawings describes the building as having been designed for the Liquid Carbonic Company, other information describes the building as being a Factory and Office Building for General Dynamics Corporation. In fact, the first company became a division of the second.  By 1940, the building was again definitely associated with the Liquid Carbonic Corporation, by 1965 with the Liquid Carbonic Division of the General Dynamics Corporation and, by 1992, with the Carbon Dioxide Corporation. The Liquid Carbonic Company was known for its manufacture of soda fountains, described by one author as “superior to all others.” The company was apparently founded in 1888 by Jacob Baur, a second generation pharmacist from Indiana. Although the original use and associations are of some interest, the association with the Austin Company, a firm that designed several other industrial buildings nearby, is also of note.

Samuel Austin and his son, Wilbert, an engineering graduate from Case Western Reserve, founded the Austin Company in 1916. Samuel Austin was originally from the United Kingdom. In 1872, he had immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, where, at first, he had worked as a carpenter. The Austin Company was a successor to the father and son’s previous operation, Samuel Austin and Son, incorporated in 1904.  Soon after its incorporation in 1916, the Austin Company developed branch offices all over the United States. It was Wilbert Austin, who had initially devised the idea of a full service firm. The “Austin method,” first pioneered at Samuel Austin and Son, provided an integrated approach to the engineering design and construction of buildings, all within one company. The Austin Company became known for the design of factories and other industrial buildings throughout the United States. By 1927, the Austin Company had designed and built the world’s largest building, a factory for the Oakland Motor Company in Pontiac, Michigan. The Building for the Liquid Carbonic Company dates from a few years later.

The firm subsequently became even more well-known and spread further. By the mid-1940s, there were over thirty offices throughout the United States. The Austin Company was responsible for a number of Boeing complexes, including the Boeing Assembly Plant of 1936-38 in Renton and the Boeing Plant No. 2 and Headquarters of 1940.

Additional Sources

Drugstore Museum, Soderlund Village Drug, 2004

<>, accessed May 2, 2010.


“2003 4TH AVE / Parcel ID 1977201245, Huston Swanstrom Building/Marshall Building,” Historical Sites, Historic Resource Survey, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle, available through portal:

 <>, accessed April 23, 2010.

Grief, Martin. The New Industrial Landscape: The Story of The Austin Company. Clinton, N.J.: The Main Street Press, 1979.


Rectangular in plan, the building is mostly not accessible or entirely visible to the public. It has a notable main east elevation along Colorado Avenue South, which has retained most original features. The east façade, which is clad in brick with cast stone trim, includes a portal accessed by a series of concrete steps. The entry is framed by a series of brick reveals and a shallow brick surround, which steps in over the main entry and is topped by soldier course of brick, surmounted by cast stone coping. To each side of the entry, there is a series of large window bays, each filled with two large steel sash windows and framed by brick clad pilasters, topped by Doric cast stone capitals. The windows are also set above a cast stone sill, which, in turns, surmounts brick cladding. There are three such openings to each side of the entrance. Completing the façade, to the south of three southern glazed bays, there is a loading dock. Based on original drawings, most the elements described are original.

There is also a raised concrete platform, a later addition, under the three southern bays. A canopy has also been added over the south bays. The canopy also appears to be a later addition. The first level of the façade ends with a parapet, topped by a cast stone cap. Above this, set back slightly from the first level parapet, there is a low structure, placed roughly above the southern arcade. This second level includes what appears to be a flat roofed area with a parapet and to the south, a gabled structure, described on original drawings as having once been covered with “asbestos shingles.” The gable end is still covered with some sort of weathered shingle.

The west elevation, visible from East Marginal Way South,  is characterized by a taller wing, marked by four long bays of  multi-pane industrial sash, as well as a lower wing to the south, which also includes large openings, also filled with industrial sash, set to each side of a service door.

Detail for 5021 COLORADO AVE / Parcel ID 3573200920 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: LR, INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Manufacturing Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Brick No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Drawings, Microfiche Files, Department of Planning and Development.
King County Assessor Property Characteristics Report, database at --parcel locator
Polk’s Seattle Directories 1920-1926

Photo collection for 5021 COLORADO AVE / Parcel ID 3573200920 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Mar 07, 2010

Photo taken Mar 07, 2010

Photo taken Mar 07, 2010
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