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Summary for 2333 Western AVE / Parcel ID 0654000315 / Inv #

Historic Name: Marine Firemen's Union Building Common Name: Tabella
Style: Modern - International Style Neighborhood: Downtown Urban Center
Built By: Year Built: 1948
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
This building was originally designed by the well-known architecture firm of Young and Richardson as the Marine Firemen’s Union Building. It was completed in 1948. The building, although of modest architectural merit and not intact, is of some significance, because it is the work of a Seattle architecture firm of note. Like 55 Bell Street, (located on the southwest corner of Elliott Avenue and Bell Street), it is also significant in terms of Seattle’s labor history, and, more specifically, because of its ties to a labor organization associated with the Central Waterfront. According to the official web site of the “Pacific Coast Marine Firemen, Oilers, Watertenders and Wipers Association,” the Marine Firemen’s Union was founded at least by 1883 in San Francisco by firemen who worked on coal-burning steamers. The Union is still important today and is affiliated with the Seafarers’ International Union of North America, AFL-CIO. The Union, which was reorganized in 1907, when it was amalgamated with the Independent Firemen’s Union, has a long history, which includes many strikes. Chief among these labor strikes was a 1901 strike in California, during which employers tried to establish an “open shop,” but met with stiff union resistance, which lasted from May until October 1901. At one point, 140 people were arrested, but once the strike was settled, workers who belonged to the Marine Firemen’s Union were no longer punished by employers for being union members. This established the importance of the Marine Firemen’s Union and is considered something of a milestone in labor history. There were also strikes in 1906, 1921, 1934 and a major West Coast strike in 1948, the year that the Seattle building was completed. A number of ships, manned by crew who were members of the Marine Firemen’s Union, were actively involved in World War II. Many of these ships were attacked or destroyed, with all or part of the crew killed. In other respects, the building is significant because it was designed by the firm of Young and Richardson. Officially, the firm of Young and Richardson lasted from 1941 to 1950; however, it began in 1920 as the firm of Schack, Young and Myers, well-known for its work on the planning and design of numerous buildings for the city of Longview, Washington, including the Hotel Monticello. A long chain of associations makes Young and Richardon one of Seattle’s oldest architecture firms. It was related to a succession of firms, before and after it, which were responsible for some of Seattle’s most well-known buildings. The design of this building, however, is consistent with work produced by the firm, in the Modernist International Style, beginning in the 1940s. After David J. Myers’ departure from Schack Young and Myers in 1929, Arrigo M. Young and James H. Schack continued the practice until Schack’s death in 1933. Originally educated as a structural engineer at the University of Michigan, Arrigo Young also became an architect. He formed a partnership in 1941 with Stephen H. Richardson, an MIT graduate in architecture. At least into the 1930s, the firm continued to work in a variety of historical styles. By at least the late 1940s, Young and Richardson had clearly transitioned to Modernism, as exemplified in the Seattle Parks Department Headquarters in Denny Park (1947-1948) in the South Lake Union area. From 1954, the year of Young’s death, until 1956, the firm was known as Young, Richardson, Carleton and Detlie, but John Stuart Detlie soon left the firm. From 1956 to 1967, Young Richardson and Carleton designed many Modernist projects, including concourses at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Bloedel Hall addition to St. Mark’s Cathedral (1957 - 1959) and the Seattle Unity Church of Truth (1960) in South Lake Union. In 1967, the firm became The Richardson Associates, and then, simply TRA. It remained one of the largest Seattle firms, responsible for buildings and airports not only in Seattle, but throughout the United States and abroad, until it closed in the 1990s.
This late 1940s International Style building is located on the southwest corner of Western Avenue and Battery Street. It has two major street facing elevations: an eastern elevation along Western Avenue and a longer northern elevation facing Battery Street. It is considered a one story building, with a full basement. Because the grade slopes down markedly from east to west (that is from Western Avenue to Elliott Avenue), in large part, the basement is revealed on the western side of the Battery Street elevation. The basic building footprint is a 60 ft by 120 ft rectangle, with the short dimension parallel to Western Avenue; however, the building volume is recessed along the eastern edge along Western Avenue and along the southern edge, which faces an alley, so that a view of the top roof level represents a smaller rectangle. This change in building height occurs within the upper, first floor level, which is at grade along Western Avenue. It is also expressed in the main Western façade: there is a brick-clad wall, set back and above the main façade. In general, exterior walls are of concrete block, which in many areas are overlaid with brick veneer and in smaller areas with square ceramic tiles. The main east facing, Western Avenue elevation, set closest to the street, is somewhat over 12’-2” high. An important feature of this elevation is the transition from brick veneer cladding to other kinds of cladding. For instance, all the cladding set above window and door openings or framing an L-shape - a pattern created by the combination all of these openings - is brick veneer. Moving from north to south, there is a ribbon of six rectangular windows, separated by square concrete block columns, which are clad in ceramic tile. Set under the six windows is a continuous concrete sill, which then extends south for about two feet. Directly below this extended sill, there is an expanse of brick veneer; but the brick cladding ends abruptly and gives way to a slightly recessed layer of tile veneer, which extends to the recessed door opening several feet to the south and also up to the southern edge of the row of window openings. The ceramic tile on this elevation is currently painted black, but the unpainted tile on the Battery St elevation suggests that all of the square ceramic tiles were originally a gray color. A continuous metal awning begins slightly north of the northernmost window and ends very slightly south of the recessed doorway, near the southern end of the façade. The red brick of the façade was repainted with red paint, but this paint job was not extended to the other elevations. A full view of the Western Avenue façade also reveals the brick clad wall beyond, which rises a little over 7 feet above the lower parapet and stops to the south, more or less in line with the north edge of the recessed entry. The longer Battery Street elevation is much longer and presents the original exterior materials in their unpainted form. It is primarily clad in red brick veneer, with concrete trim. It has a lower eastern, rectangular portion corresponding to the lower and main portion of the Western Avenue façade. To the west of this, the height of the elevation rises markedly, creating a higher rectangle. Because of the downhill slope of the grade from east to west, the concrete-clad base of this portion of the elevation also defines a lower triangular area, which increases in size, as it moves west and downhill. The concrete base/ wall is then punctured by a large recessed opening, corresponding to the basement level. The opening presents a ribbon of six typical window openings, also separated by columns, clad in grey ceramic tile. This is followed by a doorway, now secured with a metal gate. A continuous concrete lintel runs the length of the wide recessed opening. Above the basement level and lining up with the individual window and door openings, is an upper row of continuous openings. These have the typical concrete lintels and sills, as well as ceramic tile between; however, they are large, full–sized openings, which are longer in the vertical dimension. To the east of these taller windows and the higher portion of the Battery St elevation, the lower portion of the façade, which corresponds to the Western Avenue façade, features a typical ribbon of four windows, with characteristic detailing of sills, lintels and gray ceramic veneer. The southern elevation was never meant to be seen from the street. It features a horizontal parapet and one single ribbon of seven windows, with an overhead metal awning and concrete sills. The lower “triangle” is clad in concrete, while the upper part of the elevation, corresponding to the Western Avenue façade is mainly clad in red brick, with concrete coping. Aside from the paint job on the Western Avenue façade, the building’s appearance is very consistent with original drawings; however, the smaller ribbon windows have been altered. They originally consisted of two horizontal panes, and, as designed, the lower pane was an operable, hinged window. Presently, these smaller panes have been replaced by glass block. Glass block also replaced similar windows in the ribbon of windows on the east side of the Battery Street elevation. The larger windows originally featured a large piece of plate glass, set above two operable windows, set in a horizontal row. These have either been demolished or are covered over by boards.

Detail for 2333 Western AVE / Parcel ID 0654000315 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Ceramic tile, Concrete, Concrete - Block Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Social - Meeting Hall Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Agriculture, Social Movements & Organizations
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
“History of the Marine Firemen’s Union.” 2006. Available at the official website of the Pacific Marine Firemen, Oilers, Wartenders and Wipers Association,

Photo collection for 2333 Western AVE / Parcel ID 0654000315 / Inv #

Photo taken Jul 31, 2006
App v2.0.1.0