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Summary for 4520 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 0952000010 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: J. C. Penney/Russell Building Common Name: Lyons Antiques/Windermere
Style: Commercial Neighborhood: West Seattle Junction
Built By: Year Built: 1926
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.

Despite alterations to the storefronts, this building remains a significant part of the West Seattle Junction business district. The 1927 opening of the J.C. Penney department store symbolized the growth and importance of West Seattle. The store first shared the building, known as the Russell Building, with Ernst Hardware. In 1958, Ernst moved and J.C. Penney's expanded, remodeling the building. The store anchored the neighborhood's commercial activity until it left in 1987. The building was then divided into several separate storefronts. The building was designed in 1926 for L. B. Russell by Victor W. Voorhees, who 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.  

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 masonry building extends 125 feet along California Avenue. It is clad with brown brick with terra cotta ornamentation including a cornice with acanthus leaf and egg-and-dart motifs. Terra cotta-capped brick pilasters pierce the cornice. Each pilaster has a shield with a decorative "R" for the building's developer, L.B. Russell. The five businesses have distinctive storefronts with aluminum doors and display windows. The antique store at 4516 California has a deeply recessed entry with double doors that may be original to the department store. The original transom windows have been filled with stucco and fabric canopies shelter the windows.



Detail for 4520 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 0952000010 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Specialty store Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
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 4520 CALIFORNIA AVE / Parcel ID 0952000010 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jan 10, 2016
App v2.0.1.0