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Summary for 4415 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 790470-0100 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: PT&T Telephone Exchange Common Name: Centurylink
Style: Beaux Arts - Neoclassical Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1920

This building, constructed in 1920, is associated with early development of the West Seattle Junction.  The original building, a simple brick-clad structure, is largely intact, but there is a large addition on the north end. The building is still in use by Centurylink as a telephone equipment building.

This is a typical example of the telephone switching centers constructed in Seattle neighborhoods in the 1920s; similar buildings are located in Queen Anne, Wallingford and the Rainier Valley. It was built in 1920 by the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company (PT&T) and initially housed both telephone switching equipment and operators to put calls through. However, in 1923, the dial system came into use in West Seattle, eliminating the need for operators for local calls. Based on information on similar facilities, this building was probably built to a standard design by the Office of the Chief Engineer in PT&T’s San Francisco office.

PT&T was the predecessor to the Pacific Northwest Bell Company, a subsidiary of American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), which evolved to become Pacific Telesis and US West, now Qwest. Pacific Telephone Company was an early California-based telephone and telegraph communication company that gradually acquired numerous smaller telephone companies along the Pacific Coast, such as the local Sunset Telephone Company, which they acquired in 1917.  AT&T had been formed to provide long distance service, but in 1899 it became the parent company of the Bell System, which included Western Electric (manufacturing), Bell Laboratories (research and development), AT&T Long Lines and the regional Bell operating companies.  In 1984 the system broke up into eight companies by agreement between AT&T and the U.S. Department of Justice. The regional company, Pacific Northwest Bell, became Centurylink, which bought Qwest in 2011. (                                                                                (PT&T Garfield Exchange Seattle Landmark Nomination BOLA Architecture and Planning, 2016)




This one-story reinforced concrete building is set back from the sidewalk with shrubs and two large fir trees in front. It has a U-shaped plan with a narrow center courtyard. The asymmetrical façade has two bays north of the entry and one bay to the south.  The front and sides are clad with tapestry brick in shades of red, orange and buff. The recessed entry is approached by several stairs and has a Neoclassical terra cotta surround with a prominent cornice, dentils and corbels. Windows have divided-light wood sash in a three-over-three configuration with transoms; those on the first floor are covered with metal security grills.  The rear façade is concrete with similar windows and a rear entry at the southwest corner. At the north end of the main building is a flat-roofed one-story addition of concrete with brick cladding on the front and side elevations. The entry bay at the center has a recessed entry, stucco cladding and a flat canopy. The few windows are placed high on the wall with metal security grills.

Detail for 4415 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 790470-0100 / Inv # 0

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Communications Plan: U-Shape
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Communications
Changes to Plan: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
West Seattle Herald. West Side Story, 1987.
King County Assessor Property Characteristics Report, database at --parcel locator

Photo collection for 4415 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 790470-0100 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Aug 17, 2015

Photo taken Aug 17, 2015
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