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Summary for Beacon AVE / Parcel ID 1624049270 / Inv # SPU003

Historic Name: Beacon Hill Reservoirs Gate House Common Name:
Style: Colonial, Colonial - Colonial Revival Neighborhood: Beacon Hill
Built By: Year Built: 1911
The Seattle Water Department completed construction of this reinforced concrete gate house in 1911 along with the two reservoirs, which shared its equipment. These reservoirs and the shared gate house were built as part of the Cedar River Water System No. 2, which also included a second pipeline from the Cedar River and the reservoirs and their appurtenances at Green Lake and Maple Leaf. Construction of the Cedar River water system had commenced in 1899 after Seattle residents voted in 1895 for the approval of bonds to finance the system. On January 10, 1901, water began flowing from the Cedar River into Seattle’s system carried by a newly completed 28.57-mile pipeline to the new Lincoln and Volunteer Park reservoirs. This new system had a capacity of 23.5 million gallons per day. Over the next ten years, the city’s population increased from 80,600 in 1900 to 237,194 in 1910, greatly increasing the demand for water all over the city. In 1908, construction began on a second pipeline and the reservoirs, which would be supplied by it. On Beacon Hill, the City had already purchased 235 acres from the State of Washington in 1898 for purposes of a reservoir and cemetery. Situated to the east of the reservoirs’ site, the route of both Cedar River pipelines became Beacon Avenue. The pipeline alignment straightened an existing meandering road along the ridge of Beacon Hill and split the large site into two roughly equal halves. At the time, there were also plans to construct a large steel standpipe about 300 feet southeast of the reservoirs, however these plans were later abandoned. In 1909, the City decided to transfer the 137 acres not used for the reservoir and pipeline facilities to the jurisdiction of the Parks Department, which later purchased the property and developed it into Jefferson Park. While the Olmsted Brothers firm prepared the plans for the new park, the Beacon Hill reservoirs were not integrated into the park design as were the reservoirs at Lincoln and Volunteer Parks. On June 21, 1909, the second pipeline went into service, providing an additional 45 million-gallon per day capacity to meet the water needs of a fast-growing Seattle. Within two years, the Beacon Hill reservoirs were completed. With a combined capacity of 110,000,000 gallons, the low service Beacon Hill reservoirs served the immediate area as well as all of West Seattle at the time of their construction. At that time, cast-in-place reinforced concrete construction was done with site-made concrete, which was hand-mixed and poured in small batches. This method resulted in great variations in the quality of the materials and in on-going maintenance problems, requiring extensive repairs over the years to repair the damage and deterioration. While the North Reservoir continues in operation today, the South Reservoir was taken out of service in 1979. This gate house, unique in that it is shared by two adjacent reservoirs, is architecturally distinctive in design and materials from the other reservoir gate houses constructed up to that time. With its Colonial Revival/Georgian Revival stylistic influences, the Beacon Hill Reservoir Gate House is significant for its design and for its associations with the development of the Cedar River Water System No. 2 and with the growth and development of Seattle’s water system.
Completed in 1911, this one-story brick and concrete building is situated between the two reservoirs that it serves, which are enclosed within a large fenced site. An empty 49,000,000-gallon reservoir occupies the southern half of the site while a 61,000,000-gallon reservoir occupies the northern half. This grassy site is roughly bounded by 15th Avenue South on the west, by Beacon Avenue South on the east, by South Spokane Street on the north, and South Dakota Street on the south. The site is part of a larger parcel of City-owned property located on either side of Beacon Avenue South. The Jefferson Park Golf Course occupies the majority of the remaining portions. However, other City facilities include Fire Station No. 13, Jefferson Community Center, Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling, and the Parks Department Horticulture Facility. The two reservoirs share this 1911 pump station, which is located between the reservoirs on the western side of the fenced site. This modest flat roof building exhibits Colonial Revival stylistic influences. These include a wide overhanging dentilled cornice, quoins at all corners, decorative hoods over the windows, and arched entrances on the east and west elevations with quoin-like surrounds. With the exception of the cornice, the entire building has been painted the same color so it is difficult to distinguish these design elements. The T-plan building has identical façade configurations on the east and west elevations. An arched entrance at the center is flanked on either side by a single window opening. On the east elevation, these window openings appear to have been infilled with concrete, as has the fanlight above the entrance door, a later replacement. On the west elevation, all openings have been infilled, however their original outlines remain intact. There are no openings on the north and south elevations. Despite the alterations noted above, this building still retains some of its integrity.

Detail for Beacon AVE / Parcel ID 1624049270 / Inv # SPU003

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Waterworks Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Brick No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Science & Engineering
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
Sherwood, Don. Seattle Parks Histories, c. 1970-1981, unpublished.
McWilliams, Mary. Seattle Water Department History, 1854-1954: Operational Data and Memoranda. Seattle, WA: Water Department, City of Seattle, c1955.
Seattle Water Department. Annual report / City of Seattle, Water Department. Seattle, WA: 1908-1965.

Photo collection for Beacon AVE / Parcel ID 1624049270 / Inv # SPU003

Photo taken Nov 07, 2000

Photo taken Nov 07, 2000
App v2.0.1.0