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Summary for 68 S Washington ST S / Parcel ID 5247800030 / Inv #

Historic Name: Lowman and Hanford Printing and Binding Building Common Name: Washington Park Building
Style: Commercial, Queen Anne - Richardsonian Romanesque Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1890
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
This building dates from 1890. Despite a little patching here and there and perhaps the loss of some of the original stone plinth, the building is an architecturally pleasing as well as a mostly intact example of an early industrial building originally sited at the very edge of the “burnt district.” It was built for the Lowman and Hanford Stationery and Printing Company right after the Fire of 1889, although one account suggests that the occupants in 1905, Harrington and Smith actually built and first occupied the building., which is not corroborated. In any case, the building was erected close to what had once been the original coastal shoreline and on reclaimed tidal flats along Railroad Avenue, now Alaskan Way. This area was to become the site of increased industrial development, particularly after 1902; however, this building, typical of the earliest buildings erected right after the Fire of 1889, would remain along Railroad Avenue, despite booms and busts and increased industrial growth. James Lowman and Clarence Hanford were both civic and business leaders in early Seattle, with important ties to Seattle’s earliest Pioneer settlers. The Lowman and Hanford Stationery and Printing Company had operated in the Pioneer Square area since 1885. The Great Fire of 1889 destroyed all buildings (save perhaps one), in the “burnt district,” as Pioneer Square was known after the fire. The Lowman and Hanford Stationery and Printing Company returned to the former “burnt district,” after the fire, building both the Lowman and Hanford Printing and Binding Building, which they moved into in 1890 and the Lowman Hanford Building by Emil DeNeuf, in 1892, facing what is now Pioneer Place. The firm advertised itself as booksellers, stationers, printers and binders and blank bookmakers; but also showed great versatility and sold typewriters, sewing machines, pianos and organs. James D. Lowman was born in Leitersburg, Maryland in 1856. He came to Seattle in 1877 at the invitation of Henry Yesler, who was his uncle. Henry Yesler was one of Seattle’s founding settlers, and an influential early Seattle entrepreneur, guiding force and owner of prime real estate in the area around the Public Square, (now Pioneer Place), and north of Mill Street, currently known as Yesler Way. He was famous for building Seattle’s first sawmill in 1853. He also commissioned several well-known buildings in Pioneer Square and employed first Elmer Fisher and then Emil DeNeuf as architects. Later, Lowman and Hanford were to employ DeNeuf for their 1892 Lowman and Hanford Building in Pioneer Place. Upon arriving in Seattle in 1877, James Lowman worked as assistant wharf manager for Henry Yesler for four years and according to several sources, also taught school during this period. In 1881, Lowman bought half interest in a bookstore owned by W. H. Pumphrey. Pumphrey and Lowman were in business until Lowman bought out Pumphrey in 1882, but also started the Lowman and Hanford Stationery and Printing Company with Clarence Hanford in 1885. In 1886, he also became a trustee of Yesler’s estate, which included many businesses all over Washington State. As a result, Lowman was involved in the completion of the Pioneer Building and of the Mutual Life Building (then called the Yesler Building), both commissioned by Henry Yesler before his death in 1892. Lowman himself commissioned the Lowman Building on Pioneer Place. Lowman had many other business interests as well, including the thriving Yesler Coal, Wood and Lumber Company and the Union Trunk Line (the James Street Railway System) of which he was secretary. He was a trustee and stockholder in the Washington National Bank, the Guaranty Loan and Trust Company, the Home Insurance Company, the Denny Hotel Company and Seattle Steam, Heat and Power. His civic contributions were also numerous. For instance, he was the president of the Seattle Theater Company, founding member of the Seattle YMCA and served on the Board of Park Commissioners from 1896 to 1898. Clarence Hanford was born in Seattle in 1857 and was the son of early pioneer settlers. After attending the Territorial University of Washington, he learned the printing trade in the offices of the Seattle Intelligencer, which was published by Thaddeus Hanford, his elder brother. In 1880, he established a job printing business. By 1885, the Lowman and Hanford Stationery and Printing Company was created. Lowman was president and Clarence Hanford vice-president. Lowman was also principal stockholder, while Clarence Hanford, whose original business was absorbed by the new company, became manager of the printing and bookmaking department. By 1905, the building, called the Harrington and Smith Building, was apparently owned and occupied by the Harrington and Smith Company, which had been started in 1871 as Crawford and Harrington. Harrington and Smith were wholesale dealers of groceries, hardware, building supplies and ship chandlery. The ground floor commercial space facing Alaskan Way is now occupied by a printing press, Seattle publishing.
The Washington Park Building, formerly Lowman and Hanford Printing and Binding Building, was built right after the Fire of 1889 and completed in 1890. It is irregular in plan, with its longer southern elevation on Washington Street and a shorter west elevation angled to the northwest, parallel to the former Railroad Avenue, now Alaskan Way. The building exterior is distinguished, in particular, by its rusticated street level stone piers, surmounted by characteristic triangular metal ornaments, which emphasize the main bays. Upper floors have red brick cladding with stone sills. The street level is in fact a series of high commercial storefronts, with a mezzanine clerestory. The base of the building in stone and metal contrasts with the upper two levels in brick, but the entire composition is divided both horizontally as well as vertically in a grid, not atypical of the Victorian tendencies of buildings erected in Pioneer Square right after the Fire of 1889. Upper bays are well defined by brick piers, which usually are a continuation of the rusticated stone piers at the ground/mezzanine level. On the south elevation, at the second and third levels, there are nine similar bays, each with two individual double-hung windows. Brick spandrels between the second and third levels each have a recessed square, relating to the windows above and below it. The most western bay of the south elevation consists of three windows (per floor), instead of two. Turning the corner on Alaskan way, there is a similar bay, consisting of a horizontal row of three windows, but the design of the Alaskan Way elevation is generally less regular. Following this, a central bay at the upper levels has two distinct and well spaced windows, and the last bay to the north is a typical bay with a horizontal row of two windows. Because the width of the Alaskan Way elevation is so much smaller and because the Alaskan Way Viaduct currently cuts out a full view of the upper levels, the Victorian detailing of the lower level - the rusticated piers and the comparatively flimsy cladding and triangular/pediment-like ornamentation above it - take on more prominence. Currently, there is a painted sign on the brick at the third level announcing that this is the L& H Printing Company, but another sign at the second level saying “Seattle’s Oldest Retail Company” suggests that this sign, at least, is a much more recent addition, since the word “retail” was not used in this way either in the 1890s and probably not until the 1950s, at the very earliest.

Detail for 68 S Washington ST S / Parcel ID 5247800030 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Metal, Stone - Ashlar/cut Foundation(s): Brick, Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories:
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Communications, Manufacturing/Industry, Science & Engineering
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
“The Lowman Building, 107 Cherry Street, Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 1,” 5 February , 2004.
The Conservation Company, “ Lowman-Hanford Building, 612-616 First Avenue, Historic Preservation Certification, Part 1,” April, 1982.
Tobin, Carol. Downtown Seattle Walking Tours. Seattle: City of Seattle, 1985, page 16.

Photo collection for 68 S Washington ST S / Parcel ID 5247800030 / Inv #

Photo taken

Photo taken Oct 26, 2004
App v2.0.1.0