Home Page
Link to Seattle Department of Neighborhoods home page

Seattle Historical Sites

New Search

Summary for 2764 1ST AVE / Parcel ID 7666206055 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Seattle First National Bank (branch bank) Common Name: Bank of America (branch bank)
Style: Art Deco - PWA Moderne, Modern - International Style Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1946

Seattle architect J. Lister Holmes designed this building as the Industrial Branch for the Seattle First National Bank. Original drawings and property record card information indicate a completion date of 1946, but the building may have actually been completed in early 1947. Based on historical drawings, the bank building exterior appears to be close to intact, although major changes have been made to the interior of the building. The bank building replaced a previous timber structure, which had a stepped parapet and wood siding. This building had apparently been designed by the architecture firm of Schack, Young and Myers for F. S. Lang Manufacturing and dated from around 1915.

The building is similar to a bank building located on Denny Way and appears to be based on a prototype design.

J. Lister Holmes was a well-known Seattle architect whose work encompasses both historical styles and International Style Modernism. This building, which shows an Art Deco influence, also seems to reflect Holmes’ early Beaux Arts architectural education at the University of Pennsylvania. After studying civil engineering for a time at the University of Washington, Holmes obtained an architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1916.

Holmes’ early work in Seattle included residences in a variety of historical styles. For instance, he designed Collinswood at the Bloedel Reserve in 1930-32, (and a 1950s addition), in a French Manor Style and the O. W. Fisher, Jr. Residence at Broadmoor, in a style inspired by Norman farm houses.

By the mid-1930s, however, Holmes had already begun to transition to International Style Modernism. While still engaged in designing according to historical styles, he produced a Modernist dental clinic, the Weinir Dental Clinic, (now destroyed) in 1936. By the mid-1940s, he designed several buildings in a more strictly Modernist idiom. Chief among these was the Seattle Public Schools Administration Building of 1946-1948, still considered one of the better examples of local International Style Modernism. Between 1940 and 1943, he was also the lead architect for Seattle’s Yesler Terrace, an important, early affordable housing project. J. Lister Holmes’ office, still standing at 215 8th Avenue North, which was originally designed in 1954, is also another more strictly International Style Modernist example.

In contrast, the Industrial Branch of Seattle First National Bank Building employs symmetry, contrasting and applied materials, as well as curved forms at the building entry. The result is a more typical Art Deco building, whose design also harks back to earlier Classical Revival compositions.

Between 1950 and 1952, Holmes also worked as a planner and was responsible for the “Fort Lewis Peacetime Development Master Plan.” He was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1955. During the 1960s, although his intention was to reduce his workload, he still produced a series of Modernist buildings for the United Parcel Service in Seattle and in several California cities, as well as projects for special clients.


This building, which has a concrete structure, stands out especially because of the symmetrical composition of its façade and the contrast in materials. The contrast between the Roman brick, which covers much of its exterior wall surface and the stone veneer at its main entrance is an important element. The building is located on the northeast corner of First Avenue South and Forest St and has a parking lot to the north of it. The plan is basically rectangular, 60’ x 110’, with a slight deviation, because of the shallow curve in the element that frames the tall entry on the First Avenue South facade. This slightly projecting and curved element also includes a parapet that rises above the main building parapet and roof. The entry is composed of a large opening filled with deeply recessed, glazed elements: a double glass door and multi-pane glazing, set in thick metal mullions. The tall entry, with its decoration above, extends to almost the top of the parapet. The ornament above the entry frame includes a circular, metal Seattle First National Bank logo, set symmetrically within what is probably a cast stone square, set on a low base, all in shallow bas-relief. In turn, a fluted motif set on what looks like the representation of a gear is set to each side of this grouping.

To each side of the slightly curved entry, the walls are also clad in a Roman brick veneer, above a plinth, hidden by a hedge. There are is also a single, tall, but one story window, divided vertically into three squares set symmetrically to each side of the façade entry.

The cladding of the north and south elevations also primarily consists of Roman brick set above a stone base. Characteristic window bays are set above the concrete base and are usually divided into six square, (or virtually square), window panes, set in vertical rows of one. Presently, there are four such bays, extending east along the north elevation, (that is, away from First Avenue S). Moving east, the typical bay has been truncated to allow for a doorway. This configuration appears in the original construction drawings. This bay is followed by the typical six pane configuration and then two three pane bays, which align with the top of the longer bays. In all cases, the glazing is well recessed and the opening is framed by a thin stone or cast stone molding. A similar, thin molding marks the top of all the parapets.

The south elevation has a configuration similar to the north elevation, with seven bays of tall recessed windows and an eight bay which combines an original window with, below it, an opening set in a compatible surround.

Based on original historical drawings and to some degree on the January 1947 photo from the King County Tax Assessor’s Record Card, the exterior of the building has been changed minimally. The original drawings do indicate that there may have been another low window on the north elevation closer to the façade and at the same height as the façade windows; however, no photo documentation proves that it was actually built this way. In addition, the last (eastern) bay on the south elevation has been altered to accommodate a recessed entry area.

Detail for 2764 1ST AVE / Parcel ID 7666206055 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Brick - Roman, Glass, Stone, Stone - Cast Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Financial Institution Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
Storefront: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
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.
Drawings, Microfiche Files, Department of Planning and Development.
King County Assessor Property Characteristics Report, database at --parcel locator

Photo collection for 2764 1ST AVE / Parcel ID 7666206055 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jan 10, 2010
App v2.0.1.0