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Summary for 911 WESTERN AVE / Parcel ID 7666202525 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Maritime Building/ Pacific Warehouse Building Common Name: Maritime Building
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1910
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
***At the August 5, 2009 meeting of the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board, the Board voted to deny the designation of the Maritime Building, 911 Western Avenue in Seattle.  The majority opinion to deny the designation was based on the finding that this property does not meet any of the designation standards of SMC 25.12.350.

Termination of Proceedings
SMC 2.12.850A states:
“In any case where a site, improvement or object is nominated for designation as a landmark site or landmark and thereafter the Board fails to approve such nominate or to adopt a report approving designation of such site, improvement or object, such proceeding shall terminate and no new proceeding under this ordinance may be commenced with respect to such site, improvement or object within five (5) years from the date of such termination without the written agreement of the owner.”

This provision is applicable to these designation proceedings.***

Now commonly known as the Maritime Building, this building was designed by architect E. W. Houghton and completed in 1910. On original working drawings and other documents, it was originally known as the Pacific Warehouse Building, but a 1912 Baist Map calls it the Maritime Building. Stone and Webster, a nationally known utilities and engineering firm, was responsible for the structural drawings, which include somewhat detailed information on the design of the original fir piles below the building. Stone and Webster also played a very important role in utilities in King County, beginning in the late 1890s. The original drawings from 1909, as well as a 1911 photograph show that the building has changed very little, although at that time, the building did feature many signs, somewhat haphazardly attached to its spandrels. The signs advertised various businesses housed in the building, including the McKenzie-Hunt Paper Company, Kinnear Radiators, Mensing-Muchmore and Emme, as well as the Kennedy Company. Over the years, the building has housed many other businesses, which have made design changes, most often to the interior of the building. For instance, during the mid-1940s, the interior of the fourth floor was modified for the “Ed. F. Cavanaugh Corporation.” Although the building was technically sold to the "Maritime Corporation" in 1942, based on drawings from 1945, the Pacific Warehouse Company continued to have offices in the building, and further alterations were made to a portion of the fourth floor for this company in 1955. In 1952, a “corn syrup storage installation system,” was added for the Corn Products Sales Company. Despite the size of the building and the number of tenants, the number of recorded tenant improvements seems fairly low. From the time of its construction to at least the 1950s, the building has housed a variety of industrial businesses, including radiator repair companies, paper companies, printing companies, businesses producing cartons and labels (Pacific Carton and Label Company) and the like. Since at least the mid-1970s, the uses have tended to be replaced by professional offices, such as graphics, engineering, and architectural offices. This building is significant as a well designed warehouse building. It is also associated with a Seattle architect of note and a nationally known engineering firm and utility company, whose work had a far reaching effect in the Pacific Northwest. The size of the Pacific Warehouse Company/ Maritime Building and its industrial nature probably warranted the expertise and help of Stone and Webster. In addition, the location of so many buildings in the vicinity, which, by 1911, were associated with Stone and Webster and Puget Sound Traction, Light and Power Company, may have influenced the owners to hire Stone and Webster. Whether there are more concrete reasons for Stone and Webster’s involvement is unclear. Following is additional information concerning the architect E. W. Houghton and the utilities/ engineering firm, Stone and Webster. Edwin Walker Houghton’s known career in Seattle began in late 1889, when he formed an architectural partnership, Saunders and Houghton with Charles Saunders. Houghton may have met Saunders in California, where both men had previously worked, before starting careers in Seattle in 1889, not long after the Great Fire. Edwin Houghton was born in Hampshire, England in 1856 and came from a family of quantity surveyors and architects. In England, he was apprenticed in the London architectural office of Thomas Houghton, his brother. Before arriving in Seattle in September 1889, he first worked as a farmer outside of El Paso, Texas. He then had opened an independent architectural practice in Pasadena, California. He moved with his family to Port Townsend, Washington, in early 1889. The Saunders and Houghton partnership produced many Seattle gems, including the Bailey Building (now Broderick Building) and the Terry-Denny Building (Pioneer Square Historic District). The Saunders Houghton dissolved in 1891 and Houghton established an independent practice. Not surprisingly, business was slow at first, given the downturn in the economy beginning in the early 1890s and the national Panic of 1893. By the time of the Klondike gold rush (beginning in 1897), however, Houghton’s independent practice began to thrive. The early years produced such buildings as the Lippy Building (1902), the former Cascade Laundry (later known as the Cannery Building, 1900) and the Arcade Building (1901-03, demolished). The much larger Pacific Warehouse Building/ Maritime Building dates from a few years after. Houghton also became known as a designer of theaters and worked for Seattle theater impresario John Cort. Houghton, in fact, was the architect of theaters all over Washington State. He also designed the Heilig Theater (1910) in Portland, Oregon, (which now contains the Arlene Schnitzer Playhouse), the Cort Theater in Chicago (destroyed) and the Pinney Theater Block in Boise, Idaho (destroyed). Houghton, who formed a partnership with his son in 1913, known as E. W. Houghton & Son, continued to practice architecture in Seattle until his death in 1927. Stone & Webster was originally a Boston based utilities company. Founded in 1889 by Charles A. Stone and Edwin Webster, both graduates of MIT in electrical engineering, the company was originally called the Massachusetts Electrical Engineering Company. The firm began by managing utility plants in 1895. By 1902, it had begun financing the plants through an in-house securities department and was also responsible for their construction. Stone and Webster became a significant presence in King County around 1898, when it acquired the region’s first hydroelectric plant at Snoqualmie Falls. Around the same time, its subsidiary, the Seattle Electric Company, took control of Seattle area utilities and local street car lines. By 1911, the subsidiary now reorganized as the Puget Sound Traction, Light and Power Company and run by Jacob Furth, had acquired five Seattle utility companies, which included the steam plant at Western Avenue and University Street. Located not far from the Maritime Building, the plant at that time was of one building which dated from 1895, to which an addition, designed by Stone and Webster, was added in 1918. The Puget Sound Traction, Light and Power Company also operated the steam plant off of Post Alley, now in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. The Post Alley steam plant consisted of several buildings, including the Old Post Station at 619 Post Avenue, to which Stone and Webster made changes in 1903, 1910 and 1913 and the more imposing New Post Station, designed by Stone and Webster between 1900 and 1902. These buildings are some of the last working remnants of the original industrial fabric of the Pioneer Square-Skid Road National Historic.The combined Pioneer Square and Western Avenue plants continue to provide steam heat. Their steam lines now provide power, not just to the present Central Business District, but extend under I-5 to First Hill, up to Harvard Avenue. Privately run, the Seattle Steam Company, as it now known, renewed its franchise with the City of Seattle in 2004 for fifty years.
This five story building, which also has a basement level, is sited between Western Avenue and Alaskan Way and between Madison and Marion Streets. The building footprint is 134’ by 239-8” feet, with the longer dimension parallel to Western Avenue and to Alaskan Way. Exterior walls are of concrete, while the original interior structure is of heavy timber post and beam construction. The building has a flat roof, which includes skylights, as well as a parapet. There is a main east façade along Western Avenue, and a slightly more utilitarian elevation, but with similar elements, facing Alaskan Way. The shorter north and south elevations, set along Marion and Madison Streets, have similar designs and repeat standard elements seen in the longer elevations. The five story Western Avenue façade is vertically organized into three sections. It has a relatively high ground floor, topped by a projecting cornice in concrete. This is surmounted by a middle section consisting of three floors, also topped by a similar cornice. In turn, this is surmounted by the top fifth floor, capped by a more imposing cornice. Each cornice consists of a deep filet, with below that, a small ogee molding shape. In the horizontal direction, the façade, which consists of fifteen bays, is divided into three interwoven sections, organized around three entrances bays. At the ground level, for instance, each entrance is flanked by three storefronts, with the central entrance sharing three storefronts with each of the other entrances. The entrance bays are narrower than each of the storefront bays and appear to be even taller and narrower, because of the ceramic and tile mosaic surrounds. At the upper levels, within each of the window openings, there are multi-pane windows with transoms, set in groups of three or four, depending on the bay. Flanking each single window, corresponding to an entrance below, there is a horizontal row of three windows, followed by a row of four windows and then a row of three windows (Because the sections are interwoven, the rhythm of the openings and fenestration, for one full row is: 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3, 1, 3, 4, 3 - where 1 represents a single window above one of the entrances). In general, the standard fenestration is a three over three window, which pivots out from the top and the corresponding transom is a horizontal row of three panes. The windows over the entrances on Western Avenue are two over two windows, with a corresponding transom, which has a horizontal row of two panes. The ceramic and tile mosaic surrounds at the three entrances are now distinctive elements of the Western Avenue façade, although much of it appears to have been added as late as 1970. A typical entrance surround includes square brown ceramic tile work used as a background for grey square tiles, as well as buff and dark blue mosaic tile, all set in repeated geometric patterns. Grey ceramic tile L-shapes, consisting of two rows of square tiles, are set to each side of a projecting and elongated keystone motif, set over the doorway. Long, ornamental white tile pieces and small, square dark blue tiles are used to create a continuous border between the grey tile work and the outer, brown tiles, which are arranged in one vertical row to each side of the vertical arm of each of the L-shapes. The design also includes, to each side of each entrance, a rectangle created in small dark blue tile, with diagonals also in dark blue tile. To each side of the entrance, as part of the surround, two smaller geometrical shapes are set just in line with and below the lower horizontal “line” created by white and blue tiles. These small shapes consist of a rectangle created in small dark blue tile, with diagonals also in dark blue tile. The rest of the tile work within the small rectangle consists of buff-colored tiles, in slightly different shades. A similar design consisting of squares in dark blue tile, is set below a projecting horizontal layer of brown tiles, which occurs roughly at the midpoint (or above the midpoint) of the keystone height. The horizontal layer of brown tiles is two feet deep in the vertical direction and is surmounted by a thin, horizontal layer of brown tiles. The north and south elevations are divided into seven bays. The end bays feature horizontal rows of only two windows, while the five inner bays have a tripartite division. The design and detailing is otherwise the same as on the Western Avenue façade, although there are no signature entrances, such as those seen on Western Avenue. Ground level bays consist of storefronts. The Alaskan Way elevation is somewhat less regular in its design and is not simply a mirror of the Western Avenue façade. Above the ground level, the elevation consists of twelve bays, rather than fifteen. The number of windows per bay is based on the following pattern: 3, 2, 4, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2, 3. While the upper floors mostly have retained their original design and fabric, the ground level is a utilitarian mix of original wood doors, transoms and vents, with more up to date storefronts, transoms, vents and garage doors. Overall, however, based on a photo from the mid-1930s, aside from minor changes to the ground level, even this elevation has not changed much in appearance. In general, outside of the Alaskan Way elevation, whose ground level retains some original elements (although not all), the storefronts on the main façade on Western Avenue and on the north and south elevations have all been modernized, but in a consistent and basically non-intrusive fashion. The doors and hardware at the entrances have also been modernized. Aside from this, the building exterior is surprisingly intact, particularly given the amazing size of this building.

Detail for 911 WESTERN AVE / Parcel ID 7666202525 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Ceramic tile, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Mixed No. of Stories: five
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry, Science & Engineering, Transportation
Changes to Windows: Intact
Other: Moderate
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Ochsner, Jeffrey and Dennis Andersen. Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and The Legacy of H. H. Richardson. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004.
“Seattle Steam Company’s Walking Tour 2006.” Seattle: Seattle Steam Company, 2006.
“Pioneer Square National Register Historic District, Seattle, Washington - Nomination Update,” 2005.
Roberston, Amanda. “An Investigation of Post Avenue Steam Plants.” Report for URBDP 586. University of Washington, 2003. City of Seattle, Department of Neighborhoods, Historic Preservation Program Files.
Baist, William. Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Seattle, Wash. Philadelphia: W. G. Baist, 1912.

Photo collection for 911 WESTERN AVE / Parcel ID 7666202525 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Feb 09, 2006

Photo taken Feb 09, 2006

Photo taken Feb 09, 2006
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