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Summary for 220 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 5247800900 / Inv #

Historic Name: Furuya Building Common Name: Masin's Furniture
Style: Commercial - Chicago School, Italian - Italian Renaissance Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1900
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The Furuya Building was built by Masahiro Furuya to house the main office and retail outlet of the M. Furuya Company, originally an import-export firm, and the headquarters of the Japanese Commercial Bank. Both were founded and run by Masahiro Furuya, who, for a time, was a successful and very influential business leader and once considered the pre-eminent Japanese businessman in the Pacific Northwest. The building was constructed in two stages. In 1900, the basement and first two stories were erected. By 1904, three more floors had been added. Upper stories housed a Japanese Hall and various businesses. While the building now seems reasonably intact, it lost two stories in 1940 or 1941. The fourth story had arched fenestration and there was a crowning cornice. Despite the loss of the two upper floors from 1904, the building stands out, even among the many well-designed buildings from the 1900s, a time when Seattle’s commercial heart was growing, as a result of an economic and industrial boom in the former “burnt district” and in all of Seattle. It is well proportioned and detailed and exhibits a certain solidity and richness, partly because it is entirely covered in rusticated sandstone. It actually reads as something more than the usual warehouse building and seems fitting for a commercial bank. The Japanese Community, Nihonmachi (“Japanese town”), like the original Chinatown, was originally located in what is now Pioneer Square. In 1908, S.K. Kanada, a representative of the Japanese Government explained in an article in Washington Magazine: “If you walk up Main Street from Second Avenue South, you will find where the Japanese town is.” Nihonmachi was located on Main Street from Second Avenue and eastward, and on Washington, Jackson, King and Weller Streets from Fifth Avenue and east. The building’s location on Second and Main Street, its association with the early Seattle Japanese community and particularly with Masahiro Furuya lend particular historical significance to the building. Masahiro Furuya was born in 1863 and came to Seattle from Yokohama (by way of Vancouver B.C) in 1890. An educated man, he first worked as an apprentice tailor, then, in St. Louis, in a grocery store. He opened his own grocery store at 303 Yesler Way in 1892. It catered to the population of Nihonmachi and sold mainly Japanese goods. In 1896, he opened a branch of his store in Yokohama. In 1900, the Second Avenue South building allowed him to expand his inventory and he also sold Japanese art there, in addition to groceries. He later added a post office. The arched entrance on Second Avenue was the original entrance to the M. Furuya Company. Eventually branches of the company were opened in Tacoma, Portland, Vancouver B.C. and Kobe, Japan. The company also operated through a subsidiary as a Japanese labor contractor, competing with the largest labor contractor, the Tobo Company. Furuya was responsible for providing laborers to the Chicago-Milwaukee Railway and the Northern Pacific. The M. Furuya Company expanded into real estate, construction, printing and banking, as well. In 1907, with $ 25,000, Furuya created the Japanese Commercial Bank and became its president. The bank was located in the southwest corner of the ground floor of the Furuya Building. Distinctive features of the bank interior still remain: the coffered ceiling with dentil ornament, the painted iron columns, the mezzanine with balustrade and the bank vault room with two original metal doors. As president, Furuya invested in other local Japanese banks, often to prevent their failure. In 1914, he acquired the Beikoko Toyo Ginko or Oriental American Bank located at Fifth Avenue and Main Street. In 1923, he merged the Japanese Commercial Bank with the Specie Bank of Seattle, which was financially troubled. In 1928, he merged the Japanese Commercial Bank with the Oriental American Bank to create the Pacific Commercial Bank and also established the Pacific Holdings Company. The Pacific Commercial Bank still occupied the southwest corner of the ground floor of the Furuya Building, when the stock market crashed in 1929. Furuya’s great success came to a final end in 1932. The Pacific Commercial Bank was bankrupt. This brought great hardship to the Japanese immigrant population in Seattle. Masahiro Furuya retired to Japan. He died in 1938. A few minor changes have been made around ground level doorways, since the time of Masahiro Furuya. The arched entry to the M. Furuya Company is now the main entry to Masin’s Furniture Store and has newer doors and a projecting canvas canopy. A secondary entrance off Main Street led into a separate retail space. It has been partially infilled to form a narrower doorway, although it retains vestiges of its original dimensions. A pedimented third entrance at the southwest of the building, (in the bay farthest to the south of the west facade), served as the main entrance to the bank. It has since been removed. After Masahiro Furuya, other owners have included the Snoqualmie Falls Power Company, Gilbert Brothers Inc. (in 1943) and Arthur Herschuran (earlier in 1943). Masin Realty Company bought the building in 1953.
The three-story Furuya Building, which currently houses Masin’s Furniture, is located on a triangular block formed by the crossing of 2nd Avenue and 2nd Avenue Extension, with Main Street as the base of the triangle. The Second Avenue Extension, completed in 1929, was the result of a major public works project which cut a swath from Yesler Way past Jackson Street and had a far-reaching effect on the urban spaces along the edge of the district, causing several buildings in its way to be demolished or to loose their facades. The appearance of the Furuya Building, however, does not appear to have been affected by the Second Avenue Extension. The building itself has an L-shaped-plan, with one major south façade occupying part of Main Street, and the other facing Second Avenue South. A rear wing extends east to a former alley. The building, like many Pioneer Square buildings, has brick bearing walls and an interior structure of heavy timber. The primary south and west facades are completely faced with rusticated sandstone blocks. The narrow rear wall is faced with stucco. The Main Street elevation is fifty feet long and is divided into three bays. The Second Avenue façade is ninety feet long and divided into six bays. Except for an arched entry on Second Avenue, all openings on the primary facades are trabeated. The ground floor features wide storefront openings with original iron lintels and decorative wood transoms. Display windows have lowered stone bulkheads on Main Street and wooden ones on Second Avenue, with fixed metal awnings where retractable canvas awnings once hung. The second level windows openings feature a wood window frame with paired double-hung windows and three-light transoms. At the third level, each bay features a row of separate paired double-hung windows with corresponding transom lights. On the Second Avenue elevation, the third story bays are emphasized by slightly projecting piers, also in rusticated sandstone. Belt-courses separate the three levels of the primary facades: the one above the first floor is a thin band, while the second belt-course is a little heftier. Also of note is the major arched entry with radiating voussoirs, located on the Second Avenue elevation at the third bay counting from the north. This was once the entrance to the Furuya import store.

Detail for 220 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 5247800900 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Metal, Stone - Ashlar/cut, Wood Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition, Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: L-Shape
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Ethnic Heritage
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
Chin, Doug. Seattle’s International District: The Making of a Pan-Asian American Community. Seattle: International Examiner Press, 2001.
Ito, Kazuo. Issei: A History of Japanese Americans in North America. 1973.
Lentz, Florence K. “Furuya Building, 200-220 Second Avenue South, Historic Preservation Certification, Part 1,” 28 August 2003.

Photo collection for 220 2nd AVE / Parcel ID 5247800900 / Inv #

Photo taken May 24, 2004
App v2.0.1.0