Located in Eden Add #2. The earliest commercial use of the shoreline along the end of Lake Union involved farmsteads and early industries dependent on water-borne transportation. During the mid to late 19th C. the geographic area became a natural path for commerce and industry, primarily the movement of coal and logs, and the processing of lumber and wood or construction-related products. From the mid-1880s to the post-fire era, several industrial operations were established in the vicinity of the south end of Lake Union, including: numerous lumber milling operations; door, sash and shutter fabricators; furniture, mattress and paper box manufacturing companies; a carpet weaving plant and two breweries. Extensive areas of land to south of the mill complex were set aside for lumber storage purposes. During this era a large commercial laundry was also established near the west side of the sprawling Western Mill complex and small cabinet shops, wood working shops, and feed and grain operations were scattered throughout the district. After the turn-of-the-century the construction of modern industrial and warehousing facilities was spurred by improved and expanded rail and roadway transportation routes and the district became defined by these activities well into the 20th C. with a significant amount of industrial and commercial development occurring after the completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and end of WW I. Despite major late 20th C. land use and zoning changes that have spurred a significant amount of demolition and new high-rise commercial and residential construction, numerous extant historic buildings that are directly associated with industrial activities, and were designed/built for manufacturing and warehousing purposes, remain in place.
This well-preserved factory/warehouse building was constructed in 1919 for Frederick Boyd Co. Inc. per Seattle building permit #183512. According to extant construction drawings this distinctive building was designed by “H. Bittman", (Henry Bittman, Engineer) to function as a loft building, a flexible design that could be used for factory. It appears to have been specifically designed to be constructed by Hurley Mason Co., which had offices in Portland and Spokane. Permit records indicate the construct was $25,000. Hurley Mason Co. may have had an ownership interest in the development.
Frederick Boyd Co. (a.k.a. Boyd’s) began to actively advertise its “portable garage” products in 1915. [See Seattle Times 10-26-15]. These pre-cut and assembled garage buildings were stained, delivered and erected on site for the purchaser starting at a cost of $20. The company showrooms were originally located at Westlake Avenue and Lenora Street. The firm also sold other building products including sash, doors, hardware, paints and glass. By 1917, Boyd’s was heavily advertising its garage products, which were being manufacturing in a wider range of sizes and prices. By July 1919 they advertised the sale of portable houses costing $100 and up and specialized in the fabrication of custom kitchen cabinets and buffets built to order. The firm also fabricated and supplied a wide range of other wooden materials and products including sash and doors, door frames, window and doors screens, cupboard doors, drawers, flour bins, medicine cabinets, mouldings, veneer panels and fine finish lumber. They also sold mirrors, leaded glass, window glass, and plate glass as well as hardware, brushes, roofing nails, building paper, paints, varnishes, shingle stain and wall board.
By 9-28-1919 the firm had relocated to this distinctive new factory building and advertised “everything in the building material line at (the) new location.” By 1923, the product line had expanded to include other specialized millwork including breakfast nooks and stairway elements. The firm does not appear to have weathered the depression era; by 1932 the building was owned by Northern Life Insurance Co. and the 1937 assessors record & photograph note its use as a warehouse (for Van Doren Company). Boyd’s may have maintained a small operation as a February 1942 advertisement stated “all stock for sale cheap.” By 1950, it appears to have been in use as a wholesale warehouse for the Transfer Company, possibly handling paint products. By that time, in the immediate vicinity of the building there were two lumber shed, a lumber yard, a sash and door manufacturing plant, a sheet metal workshop, neon sign fabricator and several paint shops. The building now functions as retail and wholesale appliance warehouse.
Henry W. Bittman (1882-1953) is know to have designed over 250 new and/or remodeled building projects in Seattle, Washington State and Alaska. Bittman studied engineering at Cooper Union and then worked briefly in Chicago as a bridge engineer. He came to Seattle In 1906 and practiced briefly with architect William Kingsley. By 1908 he had established an independent structural engineering practice where he specializing in the design of structural steel skeletons constructed in Seattle. He is known to have served from 1914 until 1919 as representative of Puget Sound and Alaska Powder Company, an explosives supplier. The subject building appears to be among his earliest and still extant local projects undertaken during his early career. In 1923, Henry Bittman became a licensed architect in WashingtonState went on to become a successful and highly respected commercial architect.