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Summary for 1923 5th AVE / Parcel ID 0659000435 / Inv #

Historic Name: Colony Club Common Name:
Style: Commercial, Italian - Italianate Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1928
 
Significance
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 developmental era (1920-1930) when a significant number of commercial buildings were constructed and the modern downtown commercial district was fully established. In 1923, Seattle adopted its first ordinance that regulated specific geographic areas for specified uses; it allowed the most densely concentrated commercial development to occur in the downtown core. The economic prosperity of the 1920s stimulated the development of numerous major highrise commercial buildings, as well as smaller-scale bank and commercial buildings, major hotels and apartment hotels, club buildings and entertainment facilities, which were all typically designed by leading Seattle 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. This building is one of a collection of extant two-story commercial block buildings (mostly dating from the 1920s) that share similar building form, scale, exterior cladding and ornate architectural treatment. Like commercial highrise construction of this era, they are typically located at a prominent corner of a downtown block with matching facades at each elevation; however, mid-block locations with a single façade were also commonly constructed. Their most distinctive features are glazed terra cotta cladding and/or other terra cotta components that both reveal the underlying structural system and allowed architects to utilize a wide range of eclectic architecture styles that were particularly popular during this era. In this case the details are drawn from the Classical design mode, which was heavily used in terra cotta design during the 1910s; whereas, in the 1920s a wider range of popular revival styles were designed and constructed. During this era, neighborhood commercial districts also flourished with similar building types. Other extant terra cotta clad two-story, commercial block buildings that are located downtown and fit within this category include: the Ames Building (Charles Bebb, 1914), Broderick Building (John Graham, Sr., 1922), Liberty Building (Nevins and Horrocks, 1924), Centennial Building (Henry Bittman, 1925), Mann Building/Embassy Theater (Henry Bittman, 1926) and the much altered/partly demolished Pande Cameron Building (Henry Bittman, 1928). Similar extant two-story, commercial block buildings that are partially clad or decorated with terra cotta ornament include: the S.J. Holmes Building (J. Lister Holmes, 1924); Jordan Building (Lawton & Moldenhour, 1920) and the Colony Club ((John Creutzer, 1928). This building was constructed in 1928 for the 5th Avenue Holding Company, believed to be a commercial real estate development firm, at a cost of $40,000. It was designed by noted architect John A. Creutzer and intended for retail commercial and loft or office uses. The original tenant or tenants are not known. By 1937, two storefronts were in use by the national Cash Register Company and a third storefront housed a coffee shop. The upper floor level served as the Colony Club between 1934 and 1936 and later as the Musician’s Club of Seattle. By 1938, the owner of record was Pacific Mutual Life of California. In c.1949, the International Business Machine Company (IBM) expanded its adjacent operations (in the building to the north) and took over this building, and undertook major interior alterations to create additional IBM offices. John A. Creutzer was born in Sweden and immigrated to the United States as a child. He first lived in Minnesota, then Spokane, Washington and then moved to Seattle. He was well established as an architect in Seattle from 1909 to 1929, according to a notice published in the Pacific Builder & Engineer, dated from September 7, 1929, which announced his death. Extant illustrations of his work in the Manuscripts and Special Collections at the University of Washington show examples of distinctive buildings designed in the Gothic Revival, Colonial Revival and Beaux Arts styles. His most well-known extant buildings include: the Carolina Court and the Vista Apartments, the Swedish Tabernacle Church (First Covenant), and the Medical- Dental Building, which he designed with A. H. Albertson. This building is a well-preserved and distinctive example of a distinct downtown property type, a two-story, terra cotta decorated commercial block. It is a notable example of commercial block design executed in the Italianate design mode utilizing polychromatic glazed terra cotta cladding and other terra cotta components, which remain visible and in generally sound condition. Furthermore, it is associated with the career of an important local architect, John A. Creutzer.
 
Appearance
Located mid-block on the west side of Fifth Avenue between Stewart and Virginia Streets, this two-story commercial block was designed and constructed to provide three storefront retail shops with loft space above. Portions of the building appear to continue to be used for commercial purposes. It measures 60’ x 108’ and exhibits a distinctive and mostly intact two-part commercial block façade composition with modest Italinate and classical decorative terra cotta ornament. The ordinary masonry structure has a concrete foundation and basement level and is clad at the distinct base with polished green-black marble and at the second floor level with cream-color and polychromatic terra cotta ornament. The façade is divided into three distinct structural bays. The large rectangular storefront openings are enframed by the green-black marble and include two very intact original retail storefronts. The storefronts have square recessed entry vestibules paved with marble panels and exhibit intact fully glazed plate glass display and transom windows set in copper sash, original glazed entry door and sidelights panels with low rails, elaborate carved (acanthus decorated heads/fluted columns Corinthian caps) wooden window and door trim, and intact three-part mezzanine windows above. The northernmost bay that originally included a retail storefront and an open stairway to the second floor/loft level has been partially enclosed but appears to retain some historic building fabric. The terra cotta clad 2nd story has three corresponding window bays with tripartite Chicago type windows with transoms. The window openings are trimmed with distinctive twisted cable surrounds and the structural columns and sill band are clad with acanthus-decorated panels. The outer edges of the façade include a colonette that corresponds with the cornice/parapet level ornamentation. The face of the parapet is raised and clad with polychromatic (blue and salmon) terra cotta ornament including diamond-pattern panels with floral and shield motifs, and floral panels and colonettes that correspond with the fenestration and piers below. A blue color foliated terra cotta frieze distinguished the parapet edge. Originally it included small finial ornaments at the outer edges at each of the vertical divisions of the panels and frieze. The façade is remarkably well preserved, but is somewhat difficult to view due to the close proximity of the Monorail tracts and pylons running along Fifth Avenue. There do not appear to be any intact or architecturally significant interior building features, finishes or public spaces.

Detail for 1923 5th AVE / Parcel ID 0659000435 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stone - Ashlar/cut, Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Integrity
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
City of Seattle DPD Microfilm Records.
Aldredge, Lydia. Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Allied Arts of Seattle, 1986.
Seattle Monorail Greenline EIS - Historic Resource Form prepared by ENTRIX (2003).

Photo collection for 1923 5th AVE / Parcel ID 0659000435 / Inv #


Photo taken May 25, 2006

Photo taken Sep 04, 2006
App v2.0.1.0