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Summary for 603 Pontius AVE / Parcel ID 2467400190 / Inv #

Historic Name: The Carlton Common Name: The Carlton
Style: Commercial, Beaux Arts - American Renaissance Neighborhood: Cascade
Built By: Year Built: 1926
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Designed by Architect Emil Guenther, with Charles Saunders as "Associate Architect," this is a striking example of Seattle apartment building architecture. It has elements of Beaux Arts style in the use of symmetry, proportion, and elements borrowed from Renaissance/ Mannerist examples of architecture, such as the remarkable free standing pediment that emphasizes the entry bay, but is also typical of Seattle's version of the commercial style. Aside from the pediment, the ornament is simple and applied to a typical brick clad building. At the same time, some of the Beaux Arts flourishes are original and reflect, perhaps, the exciting life of its chief architect, Emil Guenther. The building is significant as the work of not one but two masters. Architect Emil Guenther’s biography indicates an interesting architectural background, although most of the information covers his career before Seattle. The early history of his life is also slightly sketchy, but the best evidence suggests the following: His real name was Emil Guenther von Schwatzenberg. He was born in Germany in 1855. He received his architectural training in Berlin, where he practiced for several years. He probably immigrated to the United States in 1880 and practiced in New York for a time. He also appears to have had personal difficulties, involving three children by a first woman, Flora Berger, an elopement with a second woman, Mrs. Murphy and charges of bigamy and desertion by Flora’s brother. By 1887, in the midst of this “brouhaha,” he had a thriving architectural practice in San Diego, had dropped the “von Schwatzenberg” from his name, but Flora had also died. With her brother in hot pursuit, it seems, Emil Guenther, moved to Spokane, right after the Great Fire in Spokane in 1889. He also had a successful practice in Spokane for several years. By 1899, he was in partnership with T. Van Aken and designed several buildings in New Westminster, B.C., including the Windsor Hotel and the Hotel Fraser. In Vancouver, B.C., he designed the Sherdahl Block, now the Dominion Hotel in Gastown, completed in 1901. By 1907, Guenther was in San Francisco, where he remained until 1912. In 1912-3, in Vancouver B.C., he designed the Canada Hotel (now the Marble Arch Hotel), including a dining room, which was a replica of the Waldorf Astoria dining room, as well as the Regent Hotel on Hastings Street. By 1914, he had moved to Seattle. Donald Luxton and Dennis Andersen, who researched most of this, suggest that Guenther’s German name and background made it uncomfortable to be in Canada at the outbreak of the WWI. He moved to Seattle and by 1922-23, was a trustee of the Washington State Society of Architects, around the same time that he was designing the Carlton. Charles Saunders, “associate architect,” was a well-known Seattle architect, who arrived in Seattle right after the Fire of 1889, with a much less well documented personal life. His practice thrived in association with various architects such as Edwin Hougton (Saunders and Houghton), George Willis Lawton (Saunders and Lawton) and Herman Moldenhour. His most famous works include: Denny Hall at the University of Washington, the Bailey (now Broderick) Building in Pioneer Square, the Rainier Hotel (demolished), the Forestry Building at the Alaska Yukon Exposition (demolished) and the Masonic Temple (now the Egyptian). He retired from architecture in 1929, so that this is a late work
The Carlton is a three story apartment building with a basement level and has a flat roof with parapet. From top to bottom, all street facing facades-East and South elevations- have a concrete plinth, which varies in depth depending on changes in grade, and is surmounted by brick cladding. The top of the exterior walls is marked by horizontal bands and originally had galvanized iron coping of a similar design. Between the bands are cast stone ornamental squares, with a repeated floral design. These squares are more or less equally spaced on each street elevation. The basic footprint of the Carlton is rectangular, but above the basement level, facing north, (a former alley), are two rectangular light wells, cut out of the basic rectangle. There is a significant grade change from East to West, allowing for a basement side entrance at grade. The entrance elevation faces east. A central bay, marked by cast stone ornamental pilasters surmounted by variations on Doric capitals, frames the ground floor entrance and two arched window openings on the second and third floor. The top arched window opening is longer that the second floor one. The original entrance was a smaller arched entry with cast stone ornamental surround. Above the first set of capitals is an “extension” of the pilasters, surmounted again by Doric capitals. Between the shorter pilaster extensions, slightly raised letters spell out: “THE CARLTON.” Surmounting the highest capitals is a virtually free standing triangular pediment. (Historical drawings show that the pediment was originally designed to be segmental). Within the pediment, slightly raised in relief, are a central circle, framed by two triangular type shapes, with curved sides following the curve of the circle. The general composition of the east elevation is symmetrical with two sets of windows flanking the central bay. The innermost windows were single windows, whereas the outer ones were double windows. The double window frames have been replaced by metal window frames divided in three parts. The other significant elevation, designed to face the street, is to the south facade. Its composition implies symmetry -- although, in fact it is not -- by the use of horizontal and vertical bands terminated by a simplified floral form, and with a floral form at the center of the horizontal portion of the band. Presently, the actual thin bands are of wood, while the floral decorations set in square shapes, are of metal. These decorative bands are used to frame sets of windows and imply distinct bays. What were originally two sets of double windows can be seen as a “central” bay of windows, with two sets of single windows set symmetrically to each side of them. To each side of this symmetrical arrangement is, to the west of this elevation, a wide bay consisting of pairs of wider window openings (originally double windows), flanking a vertical row of single windows. On the east side of the “central bay,” the bay consists of only one set of wider openings. Despite the change from double windows to metal windows with three sections and modifications to the ground floor entrance, the historical integrity and sense of the building, its cladding, shape and size of window openings, overall composition and the almost Mannerist pediment of the central entrance bay has been definitely retained. The west and north elevations were designed as alley elevations, without ornamentation, but the same cladding. The west elevation consists of a vertical row of two sets of single windows flanking an open back exit stair. The north elevation is broken up by the two generous light wells. The middle bay has symmetrically placed single windows, in front of living rooms on each floor above the basement. The eastern bay of the north façade has one single vertical row of single windows, whereas the western bay has three well spaced single windows per floor, facing living room, dinette and living room respectively.

Detail for 603 Pontius AVE / Parcel ID 2467400190 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Metal, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Other
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan:
Structural System: No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Luxton, Donald, editor,, Building the West: the Early Architects of British Columbia. Vancouver B.C.: Talonbooks, 2003, 244-5.

Photo collection for 603 Pontius AVE / Parcel ID 2467400190 / Inv #

Photo taken Oct 08, 2003
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