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Summary for 4501 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 338990-0005 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Washington Mutual Savings Bank Common Name: Chase Bank
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1951

This building, constructed in 1951, is associated with post-World War II-era development of the West Seattle Junction business district. It was built in 1951 for a local savings bank, Washington Mutual, and was completely remodeled in 1967; further alterations have been made more recently including installation of an ATM on the main façade.  The company was founded in 1889 to provide loans after fire destroyed much of downtown Seattle in that year. It grew steadily until the 1990s, when it began a series of major acquisitions that made it one of the largest mortgage lenders in the county. By 2007 its profits were declining as the country entered into a mortgage crisis. In 2008 the savings bank was placed in receivership and was subsequently purchased by JPMorgan Chase, a New York-based bank that continued to operate most of the branches.

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 plus basement building, on a prominent corner lot, has an irregular plan and is of masonry construction with stucco cladding. The recessed entry is near the center of the main (east) façade with a large bank of modern metal sash windows and the ATM to the south. The northern part of the façade has no windows. The north façade, on SW Oregon Street, has several newer windows and a large historical mural. On the rear is an entry pavilion and a covered walkway from the parking lot.

Detail for 4501 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 338990-0005 / Inv # 0

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Financial Institution Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Commerce
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Storefront: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
West Seattle Herald. West Side Story, 1987.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.

Photo collection for 4501 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 338990-0005 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Mar 31, 2015
App v2.0.1.0