In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the registration requirements established in the National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Listing, Seattle Apartment Buildings, 1900–1957, for a low-rise apartment block.
This Tudor Revival style multi-family building is in the Uptown neighborhood and known historically as the Maxine Apartments and currently as the Mercer Apartments.
The building permit (288095) was issued in 1929 for construction. Architect W. H. Whiteley designed the apartment building for W. A. Gratias, the same developer as the Gordon Apartments at 527 First Avenue N; the drawings were dated for August 1929. Polk directories listed the building as the Maxine Apartments from 1930 through 1951. From 1953 through 1975, the building was listed as the Mercer Apartments. An April 13, 1930 advertisement in the Seattle Sunday Times cited the success of the Gordon Apartments as reason to rent at the new Maxine Apartments: “Proof of the pudding in presenting the new Maxine Apartments, 105 Mercer Street, three blocks west of the civic auditorium. We respectfully direct your attention to the fact that our Gordon Apartments, across the street, have been filled to capacity ever since they opened. This indicates the demand for our properties.” The advertisement went on to extol the virtues of the Maxine’s large kitchens, dinettes, and living rooms, along with oak floors, Frigidaire, electric fans, and Westinghouse ranges. Walkability was also a consideration as they advertised that “The Maxine…is just a block from three car lines and within a block of Queen Anne Avenue shops and stores.”
Originally from Newfoundland, Canada William H. (W.H.) Whiteley (1892–1974) designed many apartment buildings in Uptown over his career; he occasionally collaborated with architect Ronald Campbell. Whiteley and his wife Mildred had two children: Virginia and William Jr.
Whiteley was active within Seattle ca. 1925 through the 1960s. His work included a range of single family residences, small markets, in addition to apartment buildings. In 1932 he served on the architects committee representing both the Washington chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Washington State Society of Architects, along with James Taylor, George Wellington Stoddard, and J. Lister Holmes.
Project announcements that appeared in the Seattle Daily Times from 1925 through 1961 illustrate a range of projects designed by Whiteley. In 1930, Whiteley designed at least five wood frame, brick veneer apartment buildings. These included work for developers Frank and W. A. Gratias, Herman Johnson, F. N. McHolland, Victor Sandberg, and Frank B. Taylor. Most were three-story buildings and included: 617 Third Avenue W (1930), 19 Ward Street; 427 Bellevue Avenue; 201 Roy Street; 2328 Yale Avenue N; 1127 Olympic Way; and 517 Ninth Avenue. Whiteley also designed multiple single-family houses, including a large home for B. H. Whiting of Cincinnati, Ohio in Des Moines (Washington) in 1931, a 1939 home for Thomas Gillespieto at 5150 Latimer Place; a house in 1954 at 3615 81st Avenue SE, as well as a few ranch-style homes.
Iowa-born Walter Gratias (born ca. 1882) was married to Mina Gratias; they had a daughter, Maxine, and son, Gordon, according to the 1930 census. Walter listed his occupation there as a contractor in the building industry and his residence was listed as 8257 15th Avenue NE in Seattle. He was the developer/builder for multiple apartment buildings in Uptown that W. H. Whiteley designed, including 527 First Avenue North, 617 Third Avenue W, and 205 Mercer Street.
This building retains a moderate level of integrity and is a good example of a Tudor Revival style apartment building in the neighborhood at a prominent location.
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed., Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Guide to the Architects (Seattle, University of Washington Press: 2014), 2nd edition.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938–1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890–1996.