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Summary for 110 S Prefontaine PL S / Parcel ID 5247801045 / Inv #

Historic Name: Prefontaine Building Common Name: Prefontaine Building
Style: Commercial, Beaux Arts - American Renaissance Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1909
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The Prefontaine Building was completed in 1909. The contractor was Hans Pederson, who name is inscribed in the concrete sidewalk along Prefontaine Way South. The building appears to be virtually intact, except for the arcuated addition at the entry (which is reversible) and changes to the windows at the second level of the Prefontaine Place elevation. The building, like Prefontaine Place and Prefontaine Square, was named for Father Francis Xavier Prefontaine, who established Seattle’s first Catholic Church, Our Lady of Good Hope. This church was demolished in 1905 to accommodate Prefontaine Place South. Msgr. Prefontaine died in 1909, leaving $ 5000 “ for a fountain in a public square,” which was built on Prefontaine Place, but only completed in 1926. The Prefontaine Building was built at a time of economic and physical growth for Seattle in general and especially for Seattle’s original heart and commercial district, which expanded in all directions. Like many of the buildings of this period , it uses repeated recessed bays, with simple trabeated openings to create a well-balanced design, but is also striking because of its siting and shape. The northeastern area where the Prefontaine Building is sited is also known for several notable buildings and public squares of the same period including: 400 Yesler Way, the King County Courthouse (the first six floors), City Hall Park and the Frye Apartments. In general, the area began to be associated around 1909 with city government. In 1913, a feasibility study to buy the Prefontaine Building and turn it into the City Hall was done. R.H. Ober, the City’s Superintendent of Buildings, concluded that the Prefontaine Building was not large enough to accommodate all the city departments and the idea was shelved. The northeastern location of the Prefontaine Building and government related buildings was also a harbinger of the later move of the City’s downtown to the north in the 1920s.
The Prefontaine Building is a six story freestanding structure, built in reinforced concrete, with red pressed brick facing and terra cotta trim. It has an irregular polygonal plan and, as a result, a striking overall shape. While the northern Yesler Way and eastern Fourth Avenue facades are perpendicular to each other, there is one short twenty five foot west elevation, perpendicular to the Yesler Way façade and another twenty five foot elevation perpendicular to Fourth Avenue. Tying the two short elevations together is the longer and the most notable façade, made up of three gently angled sections, which follow the contour of Prefrontaine Place South. The frontage along Yesler Way is 119 feet, along Fourth Avenue 145 feet, while the Prefontaine Place façade roughly totals 160 feet. The building facades feature two lower floors, clad in concrete with terra cotta trim, particularly on the rusticated shorter elevations, and upper floors faced in red pressed brick. Presently the two lower floors have been painted over (in a gray blue color), which makes it difficult to tell clearly what is concrete and what is terra cotta at these levels. Storefronts as well as window openings are trabeated. Above the second level, the facades consist generally of recessed bays between piers, surmounted by a corbel table at the parapet level. On the longer facades, a typical upper bay has one large rectangular window opening with a trio of double-hung windows. The Prefontaine Place South façade has a single central entry bay, flanked by three bays (to the northwest of it) and five bays (to the southeast). The arch set on columns at the entry within the standard trabeated opening is a later Post-Modern addition.

Detail for 110 S Prefontaine PL S / Parcel ID 5247801045 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Terra cotta Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Professional Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Politics/Government/Law
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. “Prefontaine Place.” Sherwood History Files, Seattle Parks and Recreation . Database on-line. Available from
Potter, Elizabeth Walton. “Pioneer Square Historic District Expansion Amendment.” December 1976.
“The County-City Building, Seattle Municipal Archives, City Hall Exhibit.” n.d. Database on-line. Available from

Photo collection for 110 S Prefontaine PL S / Parcel ID 5247801045 / Inv #

Photo taken Aug 09, 2004

Photo taken Aug 09, 2004
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