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Summary for 1105 6th AVE / Parcel ID 0942000255 / Inv #

Historic Name: Women's University Club Common Name:
Style: Colonial - Georgian Revival Neighborhood: Commercial Core
Built By: Year Built: 1922,1962
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
This property is directly associated with the early twentieth century era (1920-1930) when the modern downtown commercial district was fully established as additional commercial buildings were built. The economic prosperity of the 1920s stimulated the development of numerous major highrise commercial buildings, as well as smaller-scale bank and specialty retail stores, major hotels including apartment hotels, club buildings and entertainment facilities designed by leading local architects. During this era, the original residential district was entirely absorbed by commercial and other real estate development. By 1930, virtually all of the old residential properties - as well as many of the immediate post-fire era commercial buildings outside of Pioneer Square - had been demolished or removed. While the original residential district was almost entirely composed of single-family homes, it did grow to include several meeting and fraternal halls and numerous churches. This pattern continued despite ever-increasing commercial real estate development throughout the early decades of the twentieth century Several major new churches, fraternal halls and club buildings - typically designed by leading architects – were constructed in the commercial district during this era, The Women’s University Club was established by Edith Boetzkes Backus and thirteen other prominent Seattle women in 1914. The articles of incorporation for the club were signed in January 1914 and by May of that year the organization had 276 members. The club was originally housed in a small, one-story brick building (also designed by A.H. Albertson) built by the Metropolitan Building Company at 1205 Fifth Avenue. It adjoined the men’s College Club, which was then located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Seneca Street on University Tract land that is now occupied by the Olympic Hotel. From the beginning, the club served as an educational organization and a social gathering place and was open to any women with a university or college degrees. An early member noted that “In those early years there were few attractive places in downtown Seattle for women to lunch and dine” since friends now lived in distant neighborhoods and they needed an appropriate place to meet downtown. Thus, a specific purpose of the organization was “to acquire a clubhouse and such other real property as may be desirable…” The early organization operated a club tearoom and held musical evenings and dinner events with guest speakers or honored guests. The clubhouse was intended to be a literary and artistic center where college women could maintain their interests in liberal arts and the sciences, encouraging cultural and social activities, and understanding world affairs. Early on a drama group was also established. During WWI the focus of the Club changed as the Club adopted a ward at Camp Lewis (Fort Lewis) and members carried on a Red Cross program meeting twice weekly to prepare bandages and garments for wounded soldiers. This tradition continued during WWII when the club raised the funds for five Red Cross clubmobiles. In 1920, the Women’s University Club (WUC) and the College Club learned that their clubhouses would be razed so that University Properties could build a “huge’ hotel, the Olympic Hotel, on the site. WUC members promptly made the decision to have their own new clubhouse constructed. They determined it should be located “south of Pine Street” and began to raise funds and sell bonds in order to finance the construction. They purchased a nearby lot at the NW corner of Sixth Avenue and Seneca for $30,000 and selected the partnership of Albertson and Champney to serve as their architects. Ultimately they sold $90,000 in bonds during somewhat unsettled post-war business conditions and raised cash for new clubhouse furniture and furnishings. By this time the club had nearly 600 members. The new facility was intended to be a multi-purpose building with a ballroom-auditorium at the basement level that had easy access from Seneca Street so that it could be available for rental by various groups. The main floor was designed to include a drawing room, kitchen and ding room, library and meeting rooms; the second and third floors were devoted to guestrooms intended to accommodate young college-educated women seeking lodgings and the companionship with their peers. Over the years the WUC continued its cooperative relationship with the men’s College Club – located on the opposite east side of Sixth Avenue - sharing personnel, some use privileges and meeting/banquet spaces. In 1953, the College Club learned that their property would be condemned for proposed freeway construction. The WUC clubhouse was spared due to the presence of the U.S Federal Courthouse on the SW corner of the intersection and around which the route was designed to avoid. By the early 1950s, the membership lid had been raised to 1,000, the club had purchased an adjacent lot to the north for parking purposes, and several of the guestrooms were being converted for classroom or other purposes. Increasingly the clubhouse was being used for education, entertainment, and luncheon and dinner programs. In the late 1950s, consideration was given to relocating to a suburban location; however, the overwhelming sentiment of the membership was to retain the clubhouse and remodel /expand it to meet their current needs. Thus, in 1961 an addition – designed by Durham, Anderson and Freed - was built on the parking lot site to include a covered parking area, a new dining room and a modern kitchen facility. The former dining room was remodeled for use as a multi-purpose room. Gradually the guest rooms were phased out – many had been used by long-time, semi-permanent residents and by 1974 the club was no longer classified as a “women’s residential club.” The original clubhouse building was designed during the brief partnership of A.H. Albertson and Edouard Frere Champney. Champney, who also designed the downtown YWCA (1914) often served as an associate architect on large or pretentious project with other firms or architects. The original 1922 rendering that Champney produced for this project shows a much more ornate and elaborate design that that which was constructed; thus, his design role is somewhat uncertain. A. H. Albertson (1872-1964) was one of the city’s most prominent architects. He received his architectural training at Columbia University and came to Seattle in 1907 as the representative of Howells & Stokes, a New York firm preparing a development plan for the Metropolitan Tract in downtown Seattle. The firm of Howells and Albertson completed designs for several downtown buildings. He later worked with Joseph W. Wilson and Paul D. Richardson, a partnership that continued until 1939. Among Albertson’s best known works are the Northern Life (now Seattle) Tower (1927-29), the downtown YMCA (1929-31) and, on Capitol Hill, St. Joseph’s Church and Cornish School (1920-21) as well as, on Queen Anne, the Mrs. Grant Smith residence at 619 W. Comstock Street (a designated Seattle landmark); St. Anne’s Convent (1930), and an addition to the former Children’s Orthopedic Hospital (now Queen Anne Manor). In 1939 Albertson joined the state office of the Federal Housing Administration, retiring as its chief architect in 1949. He died in 1964. Edouard Frere Champney (1874-1929) was one of the few Pacific Northwest architects to possess formal Ecole des Beaux-Arts academic architectural training. His skills and knowledge enabled him to participate in the design of Beaux Arts eclectic style buildings at several turn-of-the-century expositions, including: the U.S. Government Pavilion at the Lewis and Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon (1903-04); buildings and grounds at the Pan-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco (1912-14); and serve as chief designer on the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle (1909). Champney formed a partnership in 1909 with August Warren Gould that produced several notable Seattle and Vancouver B.C. commissions until it was dissolved in 1912. After 1926, he resided in Berkley, California. The architecture firm of Durham, Anderson & Freed designed the 1961 addition to the WUC after nearly a decade in practice together. After a ten-year partnership with noted Seattle architect Bertram Dudley Stuart from 1941 to 1951, Robert Durham had practiced on his own for a brief period before joining with David R. Anderson and Aaron Freed to form their firm. Best known for the design of churches, for which they received considerable local and national attention, the partnership’s projects also included schools, banks, residences, and master plans. They also designed public buildings, such as the Southwest Branch of the Seattle Public Library in 1961 and Fire Station No. 5 in 1963. This is a fairly well-preserved, however modest, example of Georgian Revival design and is a highly unique clubhouse building located within the commercial core. It is significant due its architectural character, for its association with important local architects and as a unique club building designed and used for the specific purposes of a women’s organization.
Located on a sloping grade at NE corner of Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, this three-story building was designed and constructed to serve as private women’s club, purposes for which it continues to be used. The original 1922 building measures 60’x 116’ and is functionally interconnected to a two-story (1962) addition of roughly equal measurement. The original building exhibits a distinctive two-part façade composition and Georgian Revival style architectural details. The lower 1962 addition is located to the north, setback from the original façade and designed in a modern minimalist design mode with complementary materials and architectural details. The reinforced concrete structure includes a concrete foundation and full basement (and mezzanine) level below the first floor level. The exterior is clad with wire-cut red brick accentuated by cream-color terra cotta trim and ornament. The Sixth Avenue façade is distinguished by a wide raised first floor base composed of a terra cotta watertable and stringcourse that extends the width of the façade and wraps the Spring Street and alley elevations forming an intermediate cornice. The symmetrically composed façade is dominated by a Georgian-inspired central entry vestibule. The terra cotta clad and arched opening is surmounted by an ornate broken-scroll pediment and flanked by classically composed terra cotta pilasters. Original double-hung wooden windows (multi-pane 12/12 with narrow mullions) remain in place and are individually set with varied surrounds/detail at each floor level. At the first floor level the windows have terra cotta surrounds and are recessed within brick arched openings accentuated by terra cotta corner blocks and keystones. At the second floor level the central window includes a terra cotta surround with keystone that corresponds with the elaborate entry vestibule below and is flanked by windows with brick voussoirs and terra cotta sills and keystones. The third floor level is distinguished by a terra cotta sill course below windows with plain brick voussoirs. The building cap is accentuated by a prominent denticulated metal cornice on a plain brick parapet that is terminated by a narrow metal coping. The entry way retains original wrought iron side handrails at a flared entry stairway. A modern canvas canopy has been installed; it covers historic building fabric (including an original fan light above the entry door) and alters the architectural character of the arched central entry vestibule. The Spring Street elevation exhibits the same fenestration arrangement and terra cotta and cornice details as the façade with some minor exceptions. The elevation is articulated to include a slightly recessed central bay and the symmetrical end bays include a small narrow window at the guest room floor levels. At this sloped grade the terra cotta intermediate cornice accentuates the first floor, mezzanine and basement levels. At the west end of this elevation and interconnected to the cornice is another Georgian-inspired ornate terra cotta clad entryway leading to the basement level. The interior reportedly includes several original main floor spaces that are reportedly decorated with Georgian Revival style plaster and wood details including the original lobby, library and reception and meeting rooms. The mezzanine level includes an entry lobby off of Spring Street and access to the basement level auditorium and stage. The upper floor levels include private offices, guest and lounge rooms. There may be intact and architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces at the main floor level and additional field investigation is warranted. The 1962 wing includes a large modern kitchen facility and formal dining room with a terrace at the main floor level and private metal grill enclosed parking level below. The exterior is non-obtrusive and does not detract from the historic or architectural character of the original building. The addition does not appear to include any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1105 6th AVE / Parcel ID 0942000255 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick - Common Bond Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Social - Clubhouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Social Movements & Organizations
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Interior: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
"W.U.C. History Told" Seattle P.I., November 7, 1948.
The Women's University Club of Seattle - Historic Highlights 1914-1980" written by WUC History & Traditions Committee, 1980.
'Women's U Club Dedicates $300,000 Addition" Seattle times, July 19, 1962.

Photo collection for 1105 6th AVE / Parcel ID 0942000255 / Inv #

Photo taken May 18, 2006

Photo taken Sep 04, 2006
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