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Summary for 158 Thomas ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR002

Historic Name: Blue Spruce Apartments/Administration Building Common Name: Blue Spruce Building
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Queen Anne
Built By: Year Built: 1956
Architect George Bolotin designed this former apartment building in 1956 for the owner, Blue Spruce Inc. 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. Brick apartment buildings from the 1910s and 1920s were also scattered throughout the neighborhood. As in other neighborhoods, the transition also included the replacement of older wood frame structures with modern multi-family housing. The Blue Spruce Apartments offered five one-room and 21 two-room apartments for a total of 26 dwelling units. Within a few years, the neighborhood would undergo an even more dramatic transformation when it was selected in 1956 as the site of 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 converted to administrative offices for Century 21 Exposition, Inc. This non-profit corporation was created in October 1957 to serve as the agent for the State of Washington’s World’s Fair Commission. The individual apartment units housed the offices for Site Development, Purchasing, Personnel, Concession Division, Operations and Service, Advance Ticket Sales, and Lodging. After the conclusion of the fair in October 1962, the building remained the office for Century 21 Center Inc., which leased City property and structures on the former fairgrounds for temporary use and development consistent with the City’s plans for the further utilization of the site. This arrangement was terminated within a few years. By 1964, it became the offices for Greater Seattle, Inc., the sponsors of the Seattle Seafair celebrations. Within a year, a number of other organizations leased office space in the building, a use, which continues today. The Blue Spruce 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 1956, this Modern three-story reinforced concrete building occupies a site near the southwestern corner of Seattle Center. Originally, this former apartment building would have been located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Thomas Street and Warren Avenue North. The flat roof structure has a U-plan, which measures approximately 99 feet by 48 feet, and a banded cornice, wrapping the building. On the principal south elevation, the zigzag patterned concrete end walls frame a recessed courtyard at the center with open walkways lining each elevation. The individual units open onto these walkways with a single door adjacent to a large window opening set with metal sash. The recessed panels at the outer margins of the end walls contain windows, which light the interior stairwells. Several of the original openings have been covered. At each level of the west elevation, a long narrow window opening located south of center contains a wide window at the center flanked by narrow sash on either end. The identical east elevation also has a door opening at the southern end of the ground floor level. A modern metal gate covers this opening. Decorative concrete panels at the second and third story levels connect this building with the adjacent structure to the east. The rear north elevation has the same window openings as the side elevations but with seven per floor. Well maintained, this modest building retains excellent physical integrity in spite of its conversion to an office building.

Detail for 158 Thomas ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR002

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan: U-Shape
Structural System: Concrete - Block No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Community Planning/Development, Entertainment/Recreation
Changes to Windows: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
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.

Photo collection for 158 Thomas ST / Parcel ID 1985200003 / Inv # CTR002

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000

Photo taken Nov 14, 2000
App v2.0.1.0