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Summary for 1212 S KING ST S / Parcel ID 8170100185 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Hokubei Butokukai Seattle Shibu Common Name: Nissei Veterans Hall (NVC Hall)
Style: Modern - Contemporary, Vernacular Neighborhood:
Built By: Year Built: 1940

This building has served as a significant cultural institution for Seattle’s Japanese community since it was constructed in 1940. It was originally constructed for use as a gymnasium and community hall by the Seattle Hokubei Butokukai, a Japanese traditional martial arts club. Before World War II, community clubs provided places for Japanese Issei (First Generation) and Nissei (Second Generation) to maintain social bonds and to teach and carry on traditional cultural practices. Japanese immigrants began to arrive in Seattle in the late 19th century. Gradually the Japanese developed their own community enclave adjacent to Chinatown. The business center of Nihonmachi, or “Japan town,” was centered at South Main Street near Fifth Avenue and the community extended eastward to 12th Avenue. Just prior to the advent of World War II, the Yesler Terrace housing project was begun. The project, and the subsequent relocation of the Japanese community to internment camps in 1942, effectively destroyed the core of the Japanese commercial district.

The Seattle Hokubei Butokukai, formerly at 508 Main St., was one of many Japanese organizations forced to relocate for the Yesler Terrace Housing project. Although the new club building was not in use for very long before the internment of the Japanese community at the onset of World War II, it was renovated after the war for use by a new Japanese community organization, the Nisei Veterans Committee.

The architect of record was John Mattson, but it is notable that the original design drawings and construction permit are signed by Kichio Allen Arai. Arai was the first Asian American to graduate from the Architecture program at the University of Washington. He went on to receive his Masters in Architecture from Harvard University and he is known for his contributions to the design of numerous buildings associated with the Japanese community in the Pacific Northwest.

Although the building's associations with two important Japanese community groups, and associations with the architect A. K. Arai are notable, both early and later renovations to the building have greatly altered its original appearance.


This simple gable-front building originally had a traditional vernacular appearance but recent alterations have transformed it to appear more modern and contemporary. Newer cladding includes vertical boards and vertical metal siding, whereas the original cladding was cedar shakes. This is especially evident in significant alterations to the entry, where the single-story enclosed vestibule running the full-length of the front, south elevation is now clad in metal siding and another unknown material. Additionally the original entry was symmetrical with a projecting flat-roofed porch hood centered over the double-door entrance and flanked by symmetrical ribbon windows with 5 lights each. The current entry includes newer aluminum-framed glass plate entry doors flanked by large plate glass windows and is asymmetrical with the new metal porch awning extending from the centered doors along the front to the east corner. Additionally, new concrete retaining walls,entry ramp and planters incorporated into the reconstructed front porch/entry alter the appearance of the primary elevation. All of the original windows on the primary elevation have been covered, including windows in the gable above the entry. A newer enclosed stair vestibule projects from the northeast corner of the building and is clad in the same metal siding. Three windows on the east elevation are in original openings and appear similar to the original, but a fourth window at the northern end, has been incorporated into the stairwell vestibule. The chimney on the east elevation appears as original.

Detail for 1212 S KING ST S / Parcel ID 8170100185 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Metal, Vertical - Boards Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Gable Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Social - Meeting Hall Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Mixed No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Ethnic Heritage, Social Movements & Organizations
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Extensive
Storefront: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
City of Seattle DPD Microfilm Records.

Photo collection for 1212 S KING ST S / Parcel ID 8170100185 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Nov 16, 2008
App v2.0.1.0