Constructed c.1905, the Petersen Hardware Co. Building 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. 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), Markusen 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.
The King County Assessor dates this building to 1900, but no construction permit has been located. 1905 Baist’s real estate maps of show a brick building on the site at that time. The subject building is very similar in design/construction details to the Kelsey Block constructed in 1903 and the Markusen Block (1905); thus, it appears to date from this period. Its original address was 243-245 appears to have housed the State bank of Ballard as an early tenant (1906). An early identified tenant was the Peterson Hardware and Plumbing Company, established by Oscar Peterson, a local plumber, in 1916. The business remained in this location from 1916 until approximately 1945. By the 1930s the company had expanded, with an additional store nearby at 2217 NW Market Street. In 1935 Peterson and his partner Albert A. Schram opened a related company, Washington Plumbing Supply Company, Inc., also nearby at 5248 Shilshole Avenue NW. A 1937 photo shows that, at that time, both this building and the adjacent building to the south (5305 Ballard Avenue NW) were occupied by the Peterson company. The signage indicates that this building was a retail hardware store, with the wholesale department located next door. The building had one storefront with one recessed center entry and display windows with large transoms and a wood panel bulkhead. In approximately 1945, when Peterson Wholesale Plumbing moved, Mr. Peterson and his wife Freda opened another store here, named Ballard Hardware, with a hired manager. This store appears to have closed in the late 1940s or early 1950s.Following the closure of the hardware store, the building was used for approximately twenty years as a warehouse for Olsen’s Furniture, a large store located in several nearby buildings. It may have been during this period that the transoms and the bulkhead were altered and clad with stucco. In 1966 an overhead garage door was installed in the south bay. In 1972 unspecified alterations were made for furniture manufacturing and finishing for the Hein Restaurant Furniture Company. This use continued for many years, with various manufacturers as tenants. From approximately 1975 to 1985 Candy’s Custom Cabinets occupied the space, succeeded by Seattle Custom Cabinets in the late 1980s. [Additional Source: Report prepared by Mimi Sheridan]
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.