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Summary for 8th AVE / Parcel ID 7972603535 / Inv # SPU030

Historic Name: West Seattle Reservoir Gate House Common Name:
Style: Beaux Arts - Neoclassical, Modern Neighborhood: Westwood/Highland Park
Built By: Year Built: 1932
The Seattle Water Department completed the original reinforced concrete gate house at the southwest corner of the 68,000,000-gallon West Seattle Reservoir in 1932, and subsequently constructed a large addition on the north elevation. This intermediate service reservoir was the first to be constructed in West Seattle and is the largest in the entire system. As early as 1916, the Water Department had recognized the need for two reservoirs in West Seattle and had acquired a large tract of land in the vicinity of SW Cloverdale Street and 8th Avenue SW for the purpose of constructing one of them. At the time, six wooden tanks at 40th Avenue SW and SW Charleston Street served the entire West Seattle area with a combined capacity of 300,000 gallons. Within a few years, the construction of three more wooden tanks at SW Charleston Street and a new steel tank at 36th Avenue SW and SW Myrtle Street increased West Seattle’s capacity to almost a 1,000,000 gallons. By the early 1920s, it was apparent that West Seattle had the poorest and most unreliable water supply of any portion of the city more than ten years after its 1907 annexation. The Water Department began a program of improvement in order to give West Seattle an adequate and reliable supply of Cedar River water. This included a tunnel under the West Waterway near Michigan Street, new steel water mains, two new standpipes for low and intermediate service, and a new pump station at 6th Avenue SW and SW Kenyon Street. After the completion of the above improvements, the Water Department decided to proceed with the construction of its long-planned West Seattle reservoir. In 1929, plans were prepared for an 80,000,000-gallon reservoir at 8th Avenue SW and SW Trenton Street and a large pipeline to connect it to the city’s main supply pipelines in the vicinity of 51st Avenue South and South Leo Street. With the new reservoir, most of West Seattle would be supplied by gravity service as opposed to the previous system, which relied on the pumping of water to the few tanks and standpipes scattered through the large area. By the time of construction, the Water Department had decided to reduce the size of the planned reservoir and construct two standpipes on an adjoining parcel down the hill to the east, each with more than a million gallons of capacity. The reservoir was largely completed by 1931 and put into service the following year. Water from the reservoir also powers the hydraulic pumps of the 1934 SW Trenton Street Pump Station, which pump water to the SW Myrtle Street tanks and the SW Charleston Street Standpipe. In the mid-1950s, an unused parcel at the southwest corner became the site of the Seattle Engineering Department’s West Seattle Shops. The Water Department retained ownership of the remaining undeveloped land on the site consisting primarily of woods until 1972 when it became Westcrest Park. Unlike the earlier reservoir gate houses constructed by the Water Department, the original portion of this reinforced concrete structure has little exterior ornamentation or embellishment. However, it exhibits some Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features and maintains the composition and massing of Beaux Arts-inspired buildings. The original gate house is similar in design and materials to the 1934 SW Trenton Street Pump Station located down the hillside to the east. The West Seattle Reservoir Gate House is significant for its design and for its association with the growth and development of the Seattle water system.
Completed in 1932, this one-story reinforced concrete building is located near the southwest corner of the 68,000,000-gallon West Seattle Reservoir. This large reservoir occupies a grassy fenced site roughly bounded by 5th and 8th Avenues SW and by SW Cloverdale and SW Henderson Streets. Westcrest Park borders the southern and eastern sides of the reservoir site and occupies land originally owned by the Seattle Water Department. The site lies at the edge of a ridge, which slopes steeply to the east, affording fabulous views of the Cascade Mountains. A large Modern addition was constructed along the north elevation of the original rectangular plan structure, creating the building’s current L-plan footprint. Although modestly embellished, the original building exhibits some Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features and maintains the composition and massing of Beaux Arts-inspired buildings. These include a symmetrical façade arrangement on the principal west elevation, a simple banded concrete cornice encircling the building’s flat roof, and a concrete plinth around the base. Originally, the wide center entrance opening of the west elevation featured a simple door surround and pairs of windows with concrete sills on either side. Subsequent alterations include the addition of a semi-circular flat roof set on beveled pilasters over the doors at the center, which are modern replacements. Three of the four window openings have been filled with concrete although their outlines remain, as do their sills. Immediately south of the center entrance, the fourth window opening has been enlarged to accommodate a single entrance door. The three evenly spaced window openings on the east elevation have also been filled with concrete as have the two similar openings and the one smaller opening on the south elevation. The smooth concrete panels of the Modern addition contrast with the stuccoed finish of the original portion. The north and west elevations of the addition originally featured tall narrow windows at the center set between projecting piers. These openings have also been filled with concrete. The east elevation of the addition contains double metal entrance doors. Although altered, this building is well maintained.

Detail for 8th AVE / Parcel ID 7972603535 / Inv # SPU030

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Waterworks Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Science & Engineering
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Other: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
McWilliams, Mary. Seattle Water Department History, 1854-1954: Operational Data and Memoranda. Seattle, WA: Water Department, City of Seattle, c1955.
Seattle Water Department. Annual report / City of Seattle, Water Department. Seattle, WA: 1908-1965.

Photo collection for 8th AVE / Parcel ID 7972603535 / Inv # SPU030

Photo taken Nov 13, 2000
App v2.0.1.0