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Summary for 2700 California AVE / Parcel ID 1124039001 / Inv # DPR035

Historic Name: Hiawatha Playfield Field House Common Name: Hiawatha Community Center
Style: Art Deco - Streamline Moderne Neighborhood: Admiral
Built By: Year Built: 1911
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.
Completed in 1911, this field house was the first public recreation building in Seattle. In 1949, the original wood frame structure was substantially altered and enlarged, including the addition of a brick veneer and a large gym. West Seattle first gained fame as the landing point of the Denny Party in 1851, however residential and commercial development was slow to come to the area due to its topography and geographic isolation. This problem was partially solved with the establishment of ferry service from Seattle to the east shore of Duwamish Head in 1888. The ferry connected with a cable car line, which served the residential development of the West Seattle Land and Improvement Company, the future Admiral District of West Seattle. A trolley car line built on trestles replaced the ferry in 1902. With improved access, West Seattle developed rapidly and was eventually annexed in 1907. As part of its annexation, West Seattle was promised increased municipal services, including additional parks and recreational facilities. The 1908 Olmsted Supplemental Plan gave top priority for playground siting to West Seattle and Ballard. In 1903, the city had hired the Olmsted Brothers to prepare plans for a comprehensive park and boulevard system, including suggestions for improvements to existing parks. This was supplemented by an additional report in 1908 to include the large areas annexed by the city the previous year. In their recommendations, the Olmsted Brothers advocated for the creation of playgrounds located near schools so teachers could direct the children’s activities. The idea of public recreation facilities in parks had only become popular late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries, and the Olmsted Brothers were at the forefront of the movement. In 1910, the Parks Department acquired a large parcel of land located across the street diagonally from the 1893 West Seattle School, later renamed the Lafayette School in 1913. Hiawatha Playfield, then the largest public playfield in Seattle, was one of 37 individual parks and playgrounds for which the Olmsted Brother prepared detailed landscape plans between 1904 and 1930. These plans included the first field house to be built in the city as well as the Northwest. Within the next several years, similar wood frame field houses were constructed at Ballard, Collins, and South Park Playfields. In the later 1920s, larger masonry field houses were constructed at Green Lake Park and Rainier Playfield. Completed in 1911, the original field house included clubrooms and a large social room, used by both the community and the students of the elementary school. The field house became even busier in 1917 after West Seattle High School was completed on a large parcel south of the playfield. The students at the new high school used the social room as a gymnasium during school hours. By the late 1920s, it was evident that a new full size gymnasium was needed at the field house. However, until the later 1940s, the combination of financial difficulties due to the economic depression of the 1930s and shortages of labor and materials brought on by the Second World War had halted construction of any new park buildings except for those built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 1948, architect Theo Damm prepared plans for the additions and alterations, which featured a restrained Streamline Moderne design. The following year, the recreation center was rededicated. Although substantially altered, the Hiawatha Playfield Field House is the only one of the four original field houses to remain extant. This building is significant for its design and for its associations with the improvement of the park under the direction of the Olmsted Brothers firm and with the overall development of Hiawatha Playfield.
Originally completed in 1911, this two-story field house occupies a site near the center of Hiawatha Playfield immediately east of the ballfields and south of the children’s play area. In 1949, substantial alterations, including the installation of a brick veneer, and the addition of a large gymnasium radically transformed the Craftsman influenced appearance of the original wood frame building. This two-story building featured a gable on hip roof and a shingled exterior with rows of multi-paned casement windows lining the first and second story levels of each elevation. On the principal west elevation, most of the original window openings were retained but filled with modern casement windows. Some openings were enlarged and others were added. A portion of the original roof form remains over the western half of the present building, which features a restrained Streamline Moderne design. The remainder of the rectangular plan building has a hip roof around the outer edges, which terminates in a flat roof across the top. The brick veneer has a mixture of buff, brown, and red wire cut bricks. Currently, the projecting entrance bay at the center of the west elevation has four brick piers below two circular medallions. At the second story level, three concrete bands connect the piers and screen the three pairs of casement windows between them. A wider band covers the tops of the windows and the piers. A shallow flat roof also extends across the piers over the recessed openings at the ground floor level. Each opening once contained double glass doors within a glass surround however all have since been removed. Only the northern opening still retains a pair of modern entrance doors accessed by low stairs and a wheelchair accessible ramp. The other openings have bands of windows above wood panels. The entrance bay is centered between six pairs of casement windows at the upper and ground floor levels. Four courses of projecting bricks create three recessed bands between the windows. The western half of the north elevation has identical patterned brickwork between the three window openings within both the first and the second story levels. These openings contain pairs of multi-paned casement windows. Wide stairs and a wheelchair accessible ramp lead to an entrance to the women’s restroom at the first story. On the western half of the south elevation, the entrance to the men’s restroom is set within the west wall of a flat roof entrance bay. This elevation has a similar configuration of multi-paned casement windows with the same patterned brickwork as the north elevation. On the gymnasium addition, the north and south elevations each have two projecting brick piers, which divide the elevation into three bays. A cast stone decorative panel adorns each pier under the cast stone decorative cap. Between the piers, the upper wall of each bay contains a single large opening with four multi-paned steel sash windows. The south elevation also has the main entrance to the gymnasium within a projecting flat roof wing at the western end. Brick side walls frame the recessed opening on the wing’s south elevation, which contains three sets of double doors. The rear east elevation has four piers dividing the elevation five bays, each with the same configuration of windows as the side elevations. The piers also display the same decorative treatments. The bay north of center contains double entrance doors accessed by a small concrete staircase. Despite the historic alterations and additions and the extensive window and door modifications, this building retains good physical integrity.

Detail for 2700 California AVE / Parcel ID 1124039001 / Inv # DPR035

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat, Hip Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Recreation and Culture - Sports Facility Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
Seattle Department of Parks. Annual report/Department of Parks. Seattle, WA: 1909-1955.
Erigero, Patricia. Seattle Public Schools Historic Building Survey Summary Report. Seattle, WA: Historic Seattle PDA, 1990.

Photo collection for 2700 California AVE / Parcel ID 1124039001 / Inv # DPR035

Photo taken Nov 04, 2000

Photo taken Nov 04, 2000
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