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Summary for 117 Yale AVE / Parcel ID 6849700075 / Inv #

Historic Name: Rodgers Tile Company (117-121 Yale Ave. N) Common Name: 911 Contemporary Arts Center
Style: Spanish - Eclectic Neighborhood: Cascade
Built By: Year Built: 1927
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.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The building was constructed in 1927 for the Rodgers Tile Company. Historical photographs show a painted advertisement on the South elevation of the building with the words: “Rodgers Tile Company, Terrazzo . Tile. Marble.” While the building appears to have had more tile decoration on the two story section of the building than currently, a surprising amount of tile is still on the building. Overall, despite some loss of ornamental tile, the building looks surprisingly unchanged since 1927. It is one of the rare examples of a Spanish eclectic warehouse/storefront building in Seattle. It also reflects once again that the Cascade area supported a large number of businesses involved in manufacturing and the trades. In this case the “trade” is directly reflected in the original design and ornamentation of the building. This building is also significant, because of its ties with the Russian community, which once had a very strong presence in Cascade. It is also associated with an interesting chapter in the history of art. It was the home and studio of two artists, Nicolai Kuvshinoff and his wife Bertha Horne Kuvshinoff. Nicolai Kuvshinoff’s life in Cascade goes back to 1915, when he and his family came to Seattle and to Cascade. Nicolai Kuvshinoff grew up in Cascade. His family had recently left Russia, at a time of turmoil. He was the son of the Reverend Vasily Kuvshinoff, who officiated at St. Spiridon Orthodox Cathedral. The elder Kuvshinoff is also said to have brought with him icons and relics given to him by the Romanovs, which he bequeathed to St. Spiridon. Nicolai Kuvshinoff himself appears to have painted religious murals in the Cathedral. As an artist, Nicolai Kuvshinoff had some international renown. In Paris, where he and Bertha lived from 1955 to 1960, he was described as an “old style Cubist,” but was apparently well regarded. Bertha Kuvshinoff’s work was once described as having a somewhat ghostly style, which she herself dubbed “phantasism.” The Kuvshinoffs owned and lived in the building before they apparently sold it, to finance the stint in Europe and a trip to India, sometime between 1955 and 1960. When they returned to Seattle in 1961, they took up residence in the building as renters, where they resided at least until Nicolai’s death. Nicolai Kuvshinoff died in 1997 and Bertha Kuvshinoff in 1999. Some of their work is in the permanent collection of the Seattle Art Museum. Nicolai Kuvshinoff’s work can be researched locally in “Artists in Washington,” and “Artists of the Northwest.” Aside from the Kuvshinoffs, the building housed not only Rodgers’ Tile Company from 1927 to about 1940, but a variety of other tenants including: Kelly Floor Coverings from 1948 to 1963, the Hall Scott Motor Car Company (listed in the 1943-44 Polk’s), and in more recent times the Matt Talbot Center and the New Hope Center ( beginning in 1988 and well into the 1990s).
This building is rectangular in plan. Its exterior walls are made of brick and covered in stucco. Its main elevation faces Yale Avenue. One part of this elevation (and of the building) is one story and the other part two stories. Various Spanish Eclectic motifs are part of the building’s exterior, particularly on the Yale façade. For instance, both parts of the building appear to have flat roofs with parapets, but in an effort to reinforce the Spanish motif, a short angled roof has been appended to the Yale façade at the lower part of the building. A raking roof joins up with the regular parapet on the two-story section. Currently only the lower false roof is covered with “Spanish” terra cotta tile, but early photos indicate that the upper one also had similar roof tile. The upper raking roof section now seems to be covered in some sort of tar/built up material. The elevations are essentially two different designs, tied together by bands of striking ornamental tile. The lower one story elevation consists of four storefront windows separated by wall expanses that from a distance, seem like engaged pilasters. Below the storefront windows is a continuous band of ornamental tile. This same tile appears on the top part of the wall between the storefront windows. Tying together the four storefront windows is a deep band of colorful ornamental tile defining a repeated pattern containing circles and interlocking rectangles. The ground level band of tile continues into the two story section of the elevation. The two story elevation is defined by its large arched storefront window on the ground floor flanked by two rectangular openings of different sizes. At the second level are three square windows placed symmetrically above the large arched storefront window and two smaller windows placed more or less symmetrically at the edge of the second floor elevation. The left hand window is longer than the right hand window. The North facing elevation, probably not originally meant to be seen from the street, has three unequally spaced segmental arched window openings at the second level, with two doorways, topped by segmental arches at the ground level.

Detail for 117 Yale AVE / Parcel ID 6849700075 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Ceramic tile, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Eaves, Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Clay Tile, Other
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Arts, Ethnic Heritage, Manufacturing/Industry, Religion
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Keene, Linda, “Artists’ life together is a masterpiece of love,” Seattle Times, March 7, 1997, Website:
Fryer, Alex, “Artists’ treasures overlooked at estate sale,” Seattle Times, February 14, 2000, Website:
Keene, Linda, “Nicolai Kuvshinoff, ‘artist from the day he was born’ dies at 89,” Seattle Times, March 19, 1997, Website:
Lea, Christine to Karin Link, “E-mail with information provided by Duane Benoit, I.S.A, Fifth Avenue Antiques, Edmonds, WA on November 13, 2003,” December 12, 2003.

Photo collection for 117 Yale AVE / Parcel ID 6849700075 / Inv #

Photo taken Oct 25, 2003
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