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Summary for 401 1st AVE / Parcel ID 5479600000 / Inv #

Historic Name: Schwabacher Hardware Company Building/ Pacific Marine Schwabacher Building Common Name: Merrill Place Building Condominium
Style: Commercial - Sullivaneque Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1905
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The Schwabacher Hardware Company Building, also formerly known as Pacific Marine Schwabacher Building, was designed as a warehouse building by Bebb and Mendel from 1903 to 1905. Like most of the buildings in Pioneer Square, its exterior walls are of brick, while the interior framing consists of wood columns and beams. The simple recessed rectangular bays set over of the finely detailed base of the building and the Sullivanesque ornament over the main entry, give this building both strength and elegance. It is an example of a new architectural sophistication, brought to the design of buildings in Seattle in the early 1900s, thanks to architects, who were educated and apprenticed as engineers and/or architects, and had a more worldly background. It also clearly shows the influence of the Chicago School of Architecture and in particular of Louis Sullivan. The building was built for the Schwabacher Hardware Company, another venture of the Schwabachers, who were a leading supplier of dry goods during the Klondike Gold Rush (The Canadian government required that Americans coming to the Klondike have a year’s worth of supplies). The Schwabacher Brothers had been important in this part of Seattle since 1869 and had previously built the Schwabacher Building (First Avenue South and Yesler Way) and the State Building (Occidental Avenue South and Main Street), both of which are extant. This building, like its neighbors, represents the extension of the earlier part of the city originally built closer to Pioneer Place right after the Fire of 1889. Bebb and Mendel’s building is yet another building that was erected as a result of that economic growth, spurred by the Klondike Gold Rush and the railroads. The building is also representative of the work of the firm of Bebb and Mendel. Born in 1856, Charles Bebb was educated in London and at a preparatory school in Switzerland before attending the University of Lausanne. He also studied engineering at the School of Mines in London and worked as a railroad engineer in South Africa before moving to the United States. By 1888, he had been hired by Adler and Sullivan in Chicago as the chief superintendent architect on the building of the Auditorium Building. In 1890, he was sent by Adler and Sullivan to superintend the building of the Seattle Opera House. The project was never built and later in 1890, Bebb, still in the employ of Adler and Sullivan, returned to Chicago. He returned to Seattle in September 1893 and became a designer for the local Denny Clay Company. His work there is credited with making the Denny Clay Company a leading producer of architectural terra cotta on the West Coast. By 1898, he had an independent architectural practice and by 1901, a partnership with Louis Leonard Mendel, originally a native of Mayen,Germany. Mendel had begun his architectural career in the offices of Lehman and Schmidt and of the Schweinfurth Brothers in Cleveland. He may also have worked for Adler and Sullivan. The firm of Bebb and Mendel are also well known for the Hoge Building in downtown Seattle, just outside the Pioneer Square Historic District and the Corona Building in this district. It also produced the Washington State Pavilion at the Seattle Alaska Yukon Exposition in 1909 (no longer standing). After the Bebb and Mendel Partnership dissolved in 1914, Bebb formed a successful partnership with Carl Gould. Bebb and Gould produced more Seattle architectural gems, such as the Times Square Building in downtown Seattle and Suzzallo Library at the University of Washington until Gould’s death in 1939, as well as the neighboring Schwabacher Hardware Company Building Annex. ( Field No. 21)
The five story Schwabacher Hardware Company Building, was constructed as a warehouse from 1903 to 1905. It has exterior walls of brick and an interior structure of heavy timber post and beam, the typical structural system for buildings erected in the former “burnt district” after the Fire of 1889. It is rectangular in plan, 75 feet by 125 feet, with a main façade on First Avenue south and a major entry on the northeast corner of the building. Over each doorway of the entry is a terra-cotta bas-relief with floral motifs, reminiscent of the designs of Louis Sullivan. Ground floor storefront openings are recessed between piers of rusticated brick with simple bases and capitals in light colored granite. Bays established at the ground level are picked up at the upper levels. On the First Avenue façade, pairs of individual rectangular window openings at each upper floor flank two recessed central bays, each with paired windows, that are wider than those in the side bays. The Jackson Street elevation has six bays, with typical side bays, flanking four central recessed bays. The top of the brick wall on both street elevations ends in a repeated corbel pattern, topped by a relatively modest cornice. In 1983, the R.D. Merrill Company applied for and obtained historic certification for four buildings, the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building, the M. Seller Building (1906), the Hambach Building of 1913 and the Schwabacher Warehouse Annex (1909), located behind the Schwabacher Hardware Company Building. These four buildings now form the core of Merrill Place, a rehabilitation completed by Olson/Walker Architects and NBBJ in 1985.

Detail for 401 1st AVE / Parcel ID 5479600000 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Stone, Terra cotta, Wood Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition, Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: five
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Storefront: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Ochsner, Jeffrey and Dennis Andersen. Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and The Legacy of H. H. Richardson. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004.
R. D. Merrill Company. “Merrill Place, Historic Preservation Certification, Part 1,” 18 May 1983. OAHP, State of Washington, Olympia, Washington, Microfiche File.

Photo collection for 401 1st AVE / Parcel ID 5479600000 / Inv #

Photo taken Jul 21, 2004

Photo taken Jul 21, 2004
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