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Summary for 312 1st AVE / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR018

Historic Name: Century 21 Headquarters/State of Washington Commerce Building Common Name: West Court Building/Sonics Team Shop
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Built By: Year Built: 1953
The Western Pacific Insurance Company constructed this building in 1953 as an office building for their business. At the time, the primarily residential neighborhood of handsome but decaying older residences and apartments was undergoing a transition to a more commercial character. Lying at the perimeter of downtown expansion, the nearby area also included the Roman Catholic Sacred Heart Church and School, and the Warren Avenue School, a public elementary school. Many houses had been converted to commercial uses such as groceries, upholstery shops, and beauty parlors. Founded in May 1951, the Western Pacific Insurance Company, a property insurer, operated as an agency company, with all polices issued through licensed insurance agents in the Pacific Northwest. Initially located in downtown Seattle offices, the company moved to this building after its completion in 1953. However, the company remained in this location for no more than six years due to its inclusion in the site selected for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition. This existing building was on the southwest periphery of the 74-acre site developed for the fair grounds. Unlike most other buildings on the site, this building was retained and housed the headquarters for Century 21 Exposition, Inc. This non-profit corporation was created in October 1957 to serve as the agent for the Washington State World’s Fair Commission. Previously, the Century 21 Exposition offices had been located in a converted cloakroom in the recesses of the nearby Civic Auditorium. By 1959, Western Pacific Insurance Company had moved to a new location in the Green Lake neighborhood on Woodlawn Avenue North, and the Century 21 Exposition Headquarters occupied the building. Upon the conclusion of the fair in October 1962, the building reverted to the State of Washington and initially housed the Research Division of the Department of Commerce and Economic Development and the State Military Specifications Library. Over the next twenty-five years, various state agencies were housed in the facility before the City acquired it. Now known as the West Court Building, it currently houses the offices of the Seattle Arts Commission and the Seattle Super Sonics’ retail store. Designed by the firm of Alfors V. Peterson and John W. Adams, this modest building is significant for its associations with the transition of an older residential neighborhood and with the Seattle World’s Fair Century 21 Exposition.
Completed in 1953, this two-story reinforced concrete building occupies a site near the southwest corner of Seattle Center. Originally, this former office building would have been located near the southeast corner of the intersection of 1st Avenue North and Harrison Street. The flat roof structure has a square plan, which measures approximately 72 feet per side. Full height raised concrete surrounds divide each elevation into four recessed bays with a wide concrete spandrel separating the openings at each story. On the principal west elevation, the upper floor retains the original window openings on the upper floor except for the southern bay, which has been filled. Each opening contains a pair of windows separated by a wide mullion with a single large upper sash above two narrow sliders. The ground floor of the west elevation has been substantially altered however, the southern bay retains the original recessed entrance with a pair of double glass entrance doors. Originally, a wide marquee covered this entrance. The center bays on the west elevation contain large plate glass windows above narrow concrete bulkheads. At the northwest corner of the building, the end bays on the west and north elevations have been recessed to create an entrance into the retail space, which occupies this portion of the building. An enlarged pillar supports this corner below a curved modern marquee with an oversized Seattle SuperSonics basketball sign, advertising the retail store selling the team’s licensed apparel. The storefront within the adjacent bay on the north elevation also contains large plate glass windows. The eastern two bays feature a row of ticket office windows under an overhanging shed roof marquee. The upper floors on the south and east elevations retain the original windows. However, the window openings on the ground floor have been filled with concrete with the exception of the western bay on the south elevation. This bay always presented a blank wall at the ground floor level. The eastern bay of the south elevation contains an entrance door, which opens onto a small parking lot. On the rear east elevation, the northern bay also contains an entrance door while the adjacent bay to the south contains a long narrow window. Although well maintained, this building presents poor physical integrity.

Detail for 312 1st AVE / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR018

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat, Shed Roof Material(s): Metal, Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Square
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Morgan, Murray. Century 21, The Story of the Seattle World's Fair, 1962. Seattle, WA: Acme Press, distributed by University of Washington Press, 1963.
"Seattle To Be Home of New Insurance Co.," Seattle Times, Thursday, May 24, 1951, p. 28.

Photo collection for 312 1st AVE / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR018

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000
App v2.0.1.0