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Summary for 4505 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 338990-0015 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Radio Shack Common Name: Radio Shack
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1969

This building, constructed in 1969, is associated with the later development of the West Seattle Junction business district. It is one of the few in the Junction that remain essentially the same business as when it was built. It was designed for Radio Shack by M. J. Gleboff; no information on the architect has been found. Radio Shack was founded in 1921 to serve the budding amateur radio market. It eventually opened thousands of stores throughout the world, but struggled to keep up with the rapidly changing fields of computers and consumer electronics. The company went through several organizational and ownership changes before declaring bankruptcy in 2015 but 1714 stores were purchased and in partnership with Sprint to increase telecommunications presence.

The Junction, West Seattle's primary commercial district, acquired its name in 1907 when a new street car line on California Avenue SW was extended south to Fauntleroy Park, crossing the Admiral streetcar line at SW Alaska Street. West Seattle, incorporated as a city in 1902, had built the Admiral line--the nation’s first municipally-owned streetcar line. At first, the Junction was just a swamp with a few real estate offices, but in 1907 West Seattle voted to be annexed to Seattle. Enhanced transportation and new amenities, accompanied by heavy promotion, encouraged a real estate boom, with new residents rapidly buying lots and building homes. Jefferson School opened in 1912, and had to be expanded in 1917. The 1920s brought significant growth, with major stores such as Ernst Hardware, Bartell Drugs, a J. C. Penney department store and two "five and dimes"--Woolworth's and Kress. Although development slowed during the Depression, the proximity of defense industries brought many new residents during World War II.  The Junction thrived into the 1950s with several modern retail buildings and larger stores. By the 1980s, however, competition from shopping malls made the Junction's stores less competitive. J.C. Penney left in 1987 and many other retailers selling common items such as clothing closed, generally replaced by restaurants, bars and service businesses. In 1985, a large retail/office/residential project was built on the former site of Jefferson Elementary School. In the early 1990s, the City of Seattle adopted a comprehensive plan that focused growth in "urban villages," including the Junction. By 2010, numerous single-story buildings were being replaced by six-story mixed-use structures with underground parking, significantly changing the district’s character.



The one-story building is rectangular in plan and of concrete block construction. The metal-sash display windows extend to the ground and cover the entire façade, with a recessed entry. Cladding around the windows is stucco. Above is a large metal sign with the words "Radio Shack." In the rear is a shed-roofed semi-enclosed area for refuse containers.

Detail for 4505 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 338990-0015 / Inv # 0

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete - Block, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Specialty store Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Block No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
West Seattle Herald. West Side Story, 1987.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.

Photo collection for 4505 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 338990-0015 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Mar 31, 2015
App v2.0.1.0