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Summary for 564 12th AVE / Parcel ID 7948300085 / Inv # DON001

Historic Name: Commercial Co. Office & Shop Building Common Name: Jefferson Bus Base Exchange Office & Shop
Style: Commercial, Modern Neighborhood: Central Area
Built By: Year Built: 1958
John Mager constructed this building in 1957-58 as an office and shop for his contracting business, the Commercial Co. The business previously had been located on Fifth Avenue North in the lower Queen Anne neighborhood. Until his retirement in 1960, Mager worked as president of the company, which remained in business in this location until the mid-1960s. In addition to working as a contractor, John Mager had gained local renown as a semi-professional baseball and basketball player and an amateur boxer. The architecture firm of Otis E. Hancock & Associates designed this simple utilitarian building. Early in his career, Hancock had worked for Arthur Loveless and B. Marcus Priteca, both prominent Seattle architects, and had enjoyed an eight-year partnership with architect Frederick V. Lockman from 1925 to 1933. For most of his career, however, he practiced independently, retiring shortly before his death in 1972 at the age of 78. At the time of the building’s construction, the surrounding neighborhood was undergoing a transformation, shifting from a mostly residential neighborhood of older wood frame dwellings to more mixed commercial, industrial and institutional uses. That trend has continued to this day, especially with the expansion of nearby Seattle University. In subsequent years, the building served as a Veterans Administration Guidance Office. In the late 1980s, the City of Seattle studied the disposition of the Jefferson Bus Terminal property located nearby at Jefferson Street and 14th Avenue. The property covered nearly an entire city block. As part of an agreement with Seattle University, the city negotiated an exchange of properties and acquired this parcel in 1990 as a result. Seattle University proceeded to develop the former bus terminal site into an athletic field and tennis courts. This building is significant for its association with the transformation of the neighborhood from primarily residential uses to mixed uses.
Completed in 1958, this one-story utilitarian building faces west and occupies a large corner lot on 12th Avenue at East James Court. The flat roof concrete block structure is comprised of two sections, creating a rectangular footprint, which measures 40 feet by 36 feet. The taller eastern half originally housed a large shop. The lower western half contained an office at the northern end and a room for paint storage at the southern. A wood frame shed clad with plywood paneling extends the length of the rear east elevation. The northern end of the principal west elevation has a band of windows above a bulkhead constructed of rock-faced concrete blocks. A single entrance door is adjacent to the south. Vertical tongue and groove boards cover the blank southern end of the elevation. The upper wall of the higher rear portion originally featured a band of windows above the lower roof of the adjoining section. Vertical tongue and groove boards now fill this long narrow opening. The shop wing at the rear has two large window openings on the north elevation and two small windows on the south elevation. The south elevation also has a single entrance door, which provides exterior access to the former paint storage room. The shed at the rear has a single entrance door and a larger overhead door on the south elevation. Nearly all of the original windows have been replaced, contributing to the relatively poor integrity of this structure.

Detail for 564 12th AVE / Parcel ID 7948300085 / Inv # DON001

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete, Other, Vertical - Boards Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat, Shed Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
City of Seattle DCLU Microfilm Records.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Ochsner, Jeffrey Karl, ed. Shaping Seattle Architecture, A Historical Guide to the Architects. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
City Council Bills and Ordinances, Seattle City Clerk's Office Legislative Databases (
"John J. Mager, 64, Retired General Contractor Dies," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 20, 1967, p. 30.

Photo collection for 564 12th AVE / Parcel ID 7948300085 / Inv # DON001

Photo taken Nov 08, 2000
App v2.0.1.0