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Summary for 630 WESTLAKE AVE / Parcel ID 4088803240 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Lumber Shed Common Name:
Style: Other - Industrial Neighborhood: South Lake Union
Built By: Year Built: 1925

This property is no longer extant. Based on field examination conducted in January - February 2014, it has been demolished. Specific demolition date has not been established.

The Brace Lumber Company constructed this large lumber shed in 1925. This building is one of the few remnants of the wood products industry, which once thrived along the shores of Lake Union. In 1882, the Lake Union Lumber and Manufacturing Company was founded on the southern shore of Lake Union. It quickly became the largest mill operation on Lake Union. In 1884, David Denny purchased the mill, operating it as the Western Mill until 1895. In 1889, Denny erected a new mill and soon converted the operation to a door and sash company. This mill was located at what is now Westlake Avenue and Republican Street while the lumber yard was located on the north side of Mercer Street. The financial panic of 1893 forced Denny to lease the mill to his employees, John S. Brace and Frank Hergert, in 1895. Four years later, the two men purchased the mill and operated it in the same location as the Brace & Hergert Mill Company until it was destroyed by fire in 1909. Brace and Hergert rebuilt the mill north of Valley Street on newly filled land and continued to own it until 1921 when they sold it to the Stimson Timber Company. The new owners operated the mill until the 1930s. The Brace family retained ownership of the land on the south side of Valley Street, where the Brace Lumber Company operated a lumberyard. The City of Seattle acquired this property in the late 1960s or early 1970s in the process of assembling the land necessary for the construction of the Bay Freeway along the south shore of Lake Union. A comprehensive plan for Puget Sound transportation had been developed in 1956, and voters had approved funding for the massive freeway project in 1960. Work began first on the Central Freeway, Interstate 5, which was completed in 1967. In the mid-1960s, the Seattle Engineering Department began to prepare plans, specifications and cost estimates for construction of the Bay Freeway, which would connect Interstate 5 with the Alaskan Way viaduct. The planned route for the new elevated freeway would extend along Mercer Street and Broad Street on the south shore of Lake Union. The stretch of Highway 99 between the new Bay Freeway and the First Avenue South Bridge would become known as the Alaskan Freeway. Working with the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Engineering Department created the Mercer Street offramps from Interstate 5 and began acquiring the land along the route that would be needed for the new freeway. However, there was substantial public opposition to this new freeway as well as the proposed R.H. Thompson Expressway. This proposed limited access highway would have run parallel to Interstate 5 through the Rainier and Madison Valleys to the east and then north to Bothell. The project was effectively stopped in 1972 when voters rescinded the project’s bond money in a special election. Eventually, the city dropped plans for the freeway, but the convoluted exit from Interstate 5 became known as the "Mercer Mess," one of the city’s worst traffic bottlenecks. Although modest and utilitarian, the lumber shed is significant for its association with the once-thriving Lake Union wood products industry.
Completed in 1925, this one-story wood frame building occupies the northeast corner of a half-block parcel bounded by Westlake and Terry Avenues North below Valley Street at the south end of Lake Union. Clad with horizontal shiplap siding, the rectangular plan of this typical Vernacular building measures approximately 50 feet by 80 feet and rests on a concrete block foundation. On the north and south elevations, a distinctive stepped parapet covers the end of the low-pitch gable roof. On the principal north elevation, the original sliding wood door remains in the large opening at the center. However, the eastern end of the elevation contains a modern metal sash window and modern glass entrance doors at the first story below additional windows at the upper mezzanine level. The rear south elevation has no openings of any kind. The east elevation features a mostly blank wall with double wood doors at the southern end and a pair of full-height paneled doors at the northern end. There is another metal sash window at the far northern end of this elevation. On the unpainted west elevation, exposed studs laid over the siding may have connected this building to a structure, which is no longer extant. The upper portion of the wall is also covered with tar roofing material, another indication of a previously adjoining structure. The only opening on this elevation is a sliding entrance door to the north of center. Despite these alterations and the deterioration of the siding, this building retains a fair amount of physical integrity.

Detail for 630 WESTLAKE AVE / Parcel ID 4088803240 / Inv # 0

Status: No - Altered
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Wood - Drop siding Foundation(s): Concrete - Block
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Other
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Transportation
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Office of Management and Planning. Seattle Commons/South Lake Union Plan: Seattle, WA: Office of Management and Planning, 1995.
"John S. Brace Is Called By Death," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sunday, December 29, 1918, p. 13.
"$15,000 Fire Hits Brace Lumber Co.," The Seattle Daily Times, May 10, 1935.

Photo collection for 630 WESTLAKE AVE / Parcel ID 4088803240 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Oct 30, 2000
App v2.0.1.0