Reportedly constructed in 1900, this altered brick masonry building was remodeled in 1946; however, it is typical of late-nineteenth construction and is among the oldest historic buildings within the Ballard Avenue Landmark District. The Ballard Avenue Landmark District encompasses a particularly well preserved section of one of several successful small towns that flourished around the perimeter of Seattle in the late nineteenth century and would be subsequently incorporated into the metropolis. Ballard Avenue is lined with an intact collection of modest scale commercial buildings that reflect the development of the community’s main commercial street between 1890 and 1930. The character of this distinctive historic streetscape was primarily preserved because it was by-passed by Post-War era development that instead occurred along modern arterials - Market Street and 15th Avenue, to the north and east. In 1976, the Ballard Avenue Landmark District was formally designated a local historic district by the City of Seattle and was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places (Ballard Avenue Historic District).
This historic property is directly associated with a crucial era in the commercial and industrial development of Ballard (1900-1907) when the commercial district along Ballard Avenue was fully established and a significant number of permanent buildings were constructed. [It is also associated with the era of Post WWII changes that occurred along Ballard Avenue due to the impacts of the economic depression and the shift of commercial activity to Market Street. During this era the status of Ballard Avenue as the community’s principal business street was eclipsed and the lower or southernmost end of the street became increasingly more industrial in character.] By the early 1900s Ballard became known as the “Shingle Capital of the World” with approximately twenty lumber and shingle mills in full operation. In addition to the mill operations the industrialized shoreline included iron foundries, machine shops, paint manufactures, shipyards, pipe making plants and boiler works. Substantial commercial buildings were constructed along Ballard Avenue as the local population grew to over 10,000 residents (including 3,400+ school age children) by 1904. During this era Ballard Avenue functioned as a full service commercial street populated by numerous boarding houses, hotels and lodging houses, clothing merchants, banks, hardware dealers, druggists, dry good stores, laundry businesses, meat markets, restaurants, theaters and saloons. Gradually, the earliest wood-frame structures were replaced by more permanent – often architect designed – commercial buildings. Among the distinctive masonry and stone buildings that date from this era and most of which continue to characterize the streetscape are the G.B. Sanborn Block (1901, Portland Building (1901), Felt Block/Jones Building (1901, demolished), St. Charles Hotel (1902), Deep Sea Fisherman’s Building (1902), Scandinavian American Bank (1902), Matthes Block (1903), Kelsey Block (1903), Junction/Lombardini Block (1904), Kutzner Block (1904), Barthelemy Bros. Hardware Building (c.1904), Ernst Brothers Hardware Building (1904, demolished), A.L. Palmer Building (1905), Theisen Block (1905), Ballard Hardware Supply (1905), Peterson Hardware Co. (c.1905), Markussen Building (1905), and the Enquist Block (1906). In late 1906 Ballard residents approved annexation and the town became part of the City of Seattle on January 1, 1907. The boom era of major commercial construction began to lessen after the annexation.
[aka 5105-5107 Ballard Avenue NW] Efforts to identify the original owner, builder or tenants of this historic property have been unsuccessful. According to historic 1905 insurance maps its original address was 169 Ballard Avenue. City directories from 1907 indicate that the Chas. W. Cook Restaurant was located at 169 Ballard Avenue.
Tax records indicate that the building owner of record as of 2-4-1921 was Chas. J. Petersen. Tax records indicated that as of 11/19/1937 the building was used for garage purposes - Oscar’s Auto Repair operated by Oscar Rosenau. The tax record photograph shows the storefront had a set of central auto service doors that were flanked by 3/2 windows with low beaded board bulkheads. The façade was common brick and included a simple denticulated cornice cap. The building underwent a 1946 remodeling project for Mr. Rosenau (according to Permit 373425) that was designed by Seattle architect Jesse M. Warren. Jesse Warren (1888-1953) was born San Francisco, gained his initial architectural training/experience there and arrived Seattle in 1909. He was employed by the Beezer Bros. and Thompson & Thompson, both established Seattle firms. Warren then practiced in in Victoria B.C .1911-1916 after which he returned to Seattle where he entered into practiced real estate sales and was subsequently employed by Gardener Gwinn, a prolific builder and real estate developer. Warren operated his own private architectural practice 1928-1952.
Tax record photograph date 4-17-1947 recorded the modernized façade of Oscar’s Auto Repair with smooth concrete stucco cladding and CMU walls at the SE elevation, a service door that had been widened to one side and flanked by new 6/6 and 4/4/ windows and a large new neon blade sign. The building was again remodeled/expanded in 1972 and underwent a 2007 renovation project.
Property Record Cards (1937-1972). Washington State Regional Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch, Bellevue, WA.
“Ballard Avenue Historic District” National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form (Prepared by Elisabeth Walton Potter, OAHP, April 1976.)
Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Seattle, Wash. Philadelphia: W.G. Baist, 1905, 1912.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1884-1951. Digital versions available via Seattle Public Library - www.spl.org.