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Summary for 1519 12TH AVE / Parcel ID 6003500315 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Overland Pacific Building Common Name: Police Department East Precinct
Style: Commercial, Vernacular Neighborhood: Pike/Pine
Built By: Year Built: 1917
Designed by prominent Seattle architect Victor W. Voorhees, this large brick building was constructed in 1917 for use as a showroom and garage by the Wyllis-Overland Company. Known as the Overland Pacific Building, the building housed a factory branch of Wyllys-Overland Inc., where Overland and Willys-Knight cars were assembled. The local distributor, Willys-Overland Pacific Co., also operated out of this location. In 1900, the first automobile, a Wood’s Electric, had arrived in Seattle. It belonged to Ralph Hopkins, former president of the Treen Shoe Co., who drove it cross-country from Chicago to Seattle. In the next decade, the increasing popularity of the automobile resulted in the creation of the city’s first "Auto Row," centered in the area around Pike and Pine Streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue in a previously residential neighborhood of single-family dwellings. The area’s proximity to the wealthy residents of Capitol Hill made this the center for automobile sales, accessories, repairs, used autos and wholesale automotive equipment until the 1930s. Many new buildings were constructed for the manufacturing, distribution and repair of automobiles. By the time of Henry Ford’s 1909 visit during his trip to Seattle for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, the concentration of auto-related businesses in this vicinity had earned it the nickname of "Auto Row." Today, some of these uses continue, but the majority of showrooms, garages and stores contain other commercial and retail businesses, including cafes, antique stores and clothing stores. Claude E Cox designed and built the first Overland car, which went for its first test-drive on February 12, 1903. Initially, Cox was financed by the Standard Wheel Company, and operated from their premises in Terre Haute, Indiana. Several years later, Cox purchased the fledgling automobile company with financial backing from another investor and incorporated it as the Overland Automobile Company on March 31, 1906. After the 1907 economic depression, financial difficulties forced Cox to sell the company in 1908 to John North Willys, who had begun his career as a bicycle manufacturer but had switched to automobiles. By 1909, Wyllis had renamed the company the Willys-Overland Company and had moved the manufacturing operations to Toledo, Ohio. Cox left the business in 1909 to follow a career in photography. Initially, the company manufactured Overland cars and the more expensive Wyllis cars, both with poppet valve engines. After meeting automobile engine manufacture Charles Y. Knight in 1913, Willys began producing cars with the Knight Sleeve Valve engine, eventually manufacturing almost a half a million of the Wyllis-Knight vehicles during the 1914-1933 period. Until 1918, the company was second only to Ford in the number of cars produced. The company manufactured automobiles and trucks until forced into bankruptcy by the economic depression of the 1930s. After a 1936 reorganization, the company remained in business until 1942. Victor W. Voorhees is well known as a residential and commercial architect who practiced in Seattle in the early part of the 20th century, designing such noted buildings as the Vance Hotel and the Lloyd Building in downtown Seattle. Individually credited with over 110 projects from 1904 to 1929, Voorhees worked on a wide variety of building types, including cottages, residences, apartment buildings, commercial laundries and garages, industrial buildings and factories, fraternal halls, retail stores, banks, and hotels. In addition to his commissioned design work, he produced plan books for use by developers, builders, and individual homeowners. Over the years, the building has housed a number of auto-related businesses. In the 1970s, there was even a taxidermy business located there. The City of Seattle acquired the property in the mid-1980s for use as the East Precinct Police Station. Over the next several years, the city made substantial alterations to the building to convert it to its present use. The building is significant for its design by a prominent Seattle architect and for its association with the early automobile industry in Seattle.
Completed in 1917, this two-story brick and concrete building occupies a prominent corner lot at the intersection of 12th Avenue and East Pine Street. The flat roof structure has a rectangular footprint, which measures 180 feet by 114 feet. A brick parapet wall above a sheet metal cornice encircles the roof, which has eight long and narrow skylights in an east-west orientation. An intermediate cornice separates the building’s first and second stories. This building was substantially altered in its conversion to a police station, which included painting the brick walls on the north and east elevations. All of the original multi-paned and plate glass windows were removed from the nine bays on the east elevation and the six bays on the north elevation. All of the door openings were also reconfigured. Only the rhythm of the openings between the brick piers remains intact. On the upper floor level, corbelled brick embellishes the lintels of the openings on the east and north elevations. Originally, each opening contained four multi-paned windows below four transoms, all separated by wide mullions. Currently, the openings have a wide window at the center flanked by narrower windows with transoms above, all of which are single pane modern sash separated by narrow mullions. On the ground floor level, the northeast corner of the building has a recessed entry area within the last bay at the northern end of the east elevation and the four bays at the eastern end of the north elevation. The curved window wall within the recessed area has a double door entrance on the north elevation. The remaining two bays on the north elevation have vehicular ramps to the first floor and basement levels. The two bays at the southern end of the east elevation have a similar configuration of ramps. The seven remaining bays along the east elevation have modern windows similar to those on the upper story. The rear west elevation has seven of the same modern windows at the top story level. The original window openings at the first floor level have been partially filled to accommodate smaller bands of windows or completely filled altogether. The large window openings at the basement level have been filled with concrete blocks. Due to the substantial alterations, this building has poor physical integrity but is well maintained.

Detail for 1519 12TH AVE / Parcel ID 6003500315 / Inv # 0

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Politics/Government/Law, Transportation
Changes to Original Cladding: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Moderate
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.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Willys Overland Knight Registry (

Photo collection for 1519 12TH AVE / Parcel ID 6003500315 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jun 24, 2011
App v2.0.1.0