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Summary for 4548 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 0952006365 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Bartell Drugs Common Name: Washington Management Co.
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1929

This former Bartell Drugs store is an excellent example of the relatively ornate neighborhood commercial buildings constructed in the 1920s. It was built in 1929, during a period of strong commercial growth in West Seattle, a time that gave this community some of the most ornate stores of any local business district in the city.  This store remained Bartell Drugs until the 1980s when the chain opened a larger store at nearby Jefferson Square.  Since that time it has housed several retail stores, a martial arts school and currently, a real estate management firm. The building was designed in 1929 by V. W. Voorhees, who also designed the nearby J. C. Penney department store. His client for this building was W. T. Campbell, who also built the adjacent Campbell building. Victor W. Voorhees is credited with more than 100 building projects between 1904 and 1929, ranging from cottages and large residences to apartment blocks, auto dealerships, industrial buildings, fraternal halls, office buildings and hotels. He was also known for publishing a popular books of house and bungalow plans in 1907.

The Junction, West Seattle's primary commercial district, acquired its name in 1907 when a new street car line on California Avenue SW was extended south to Fauntleroy Park, crossing the Admiral streetcar line at SW Alaska Street. West Seattle, incorporated as a city in 1902, had built the Admiral line--the nation’s first municipally-owned streetcar line. At first, the Junction was just a swamp with a few real estate offices, but in 1907 West Seattle voted to be annexed to Seattle. Enhanced transportation and new amenities, accompanied by heavy promotion, encouraged a real estate boom, with new residents rapidly buying lots and building homes. Jefferson School opened in 1912, and had to be expanded in 1917. The 1920s brought significant growth, with major stores such as Ernst Hardware, Bartell Drugs, a J. C. Penney department store and two "five and dimes"--Woolworth's and Kress. Although development slowed during the Depression, the proximity of defense industries brought many new residents during World War II.  The Junction thrived into the 1950s with several modern retail buildings and larger stores. By the 1980s, however, competition from shopping malls made the Junction's stores less competitive. J.C. Penney left in 1987 and many other retailers selling common items such as clothing closed, generally replaced by restaurants, bars and service businesses. In 1985, a large retail/office/residential project was built on the former site of Jefferson Elementary School. In the early 1990s, the City of Seattle adopted a comprehensive plan that focused growth in "urban villages," including the Junction. By 2010, numerous single-story buildings were being replaced by six-story mixed-use structures with underground parking, significantly changing the district’s character.


This two-story building is clad in buff brick with a stepped parapet capped with terra cotta coping. Four striking terra cotta finials top the center of the building; the two outer ones are similar to a lighthouse in appearance and the center ones are spirals. The terra cotta extends down to a terra cotta string course several feet below the cornice. A second course runs just above the transoms. A large center medallion and two smaller ones below the cornice complete the ornamentation. The building retains its original ornamentation, but some updates have been made. The second-floor double-hung windows have been replaced with newer metal sash in a dark color. The first floor windows and doors have also been replaced with more modern metal features. The original Art Moderne metal canopy had been replaced by a fabric canopy.

Detail for 4548 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 0952006365 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Specialty store Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
West Seattle Herald. West Side Story, 1987.
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.

Photo collection for 4548 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 0952006365 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jan 10, 2016
App v2.0.1.0