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Summary for 5033 1ST AVE / Parcel ID 3573200820 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Asbestos Supply Co./ J. W. Clise & Co. Common Name: Craftsmen Ltd.
Style: Commercial, Other - Industrial Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1925
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).

Plat Name: Industrial Add, Block: 19, Lots: 7-8-9-10

Although not entirely intact, this building has retained a good amount of the original detail and fenestration of its main façade. It is significant and has a strong presence along First Avenue South. Original drawings are faded enough to be almost illegible, but the legible portions and permit information ascribe the building to the “Austin Company Engineers and Builders, Portland, Seattle.” The building was completed at the end of December1925. Other less distinguished structures have since been added behind the main First Avenue South building.

By the late 1940s, the building housed the Asbestos Supply Company, as well as J. W. Clise & Company, Industrial Management. These businesses were succeeded during the mid-1950s by the Armstrong Cork Company, which remained until at least the mid-1960s. By 1970, Pacific Wholesale Distributors, which specialized in flooring, occupied the building. This company remained until at least the mid-1970s. Craftsmen Ltd, a furniture manufacturer had taken over by 1980 and the building is still named after it.

The association with the Austin Company is probably the most interesting. Samuel Austin and his son, Wilbert, an engineering graduate from Case Western Reserve, founded the Austin Company in 1916. Samuel Austin was originally from the United Kingdom. In 1872, he had immigrated to Cleveland, Ohio, where, at first, he had worked as a carpenter. The Austin Company was a successor to the father and son’s previous operation, Samuel Austin and Son, incorporated in 1904.  Soon after its incorporation in 1916, the Austin Company developed branch offices all over the United States. It was Wilbert Austin, who had initially devised the idea of a full service firm. The “Austin method,” first pioneered at Samuel Austin and Son, provided an integrated approach to the engineering design and construction of buildings, all within one company. The Austin Company became known for the design of factories and other industrial buildings throughout the United States. By 1927, the Austin Company had designed and built the world’s largest building, a factory for the Oakland Motor Company in Pontiac, Michigan. The building on First Avenue South is interesting, because it slightly predates the Oakland Motor Company Building and is a relatively early work by the company.

The firm subsequently became even more well-known and spread further. By the mid-1940s, there were over thirty offices throughout the United States. The Austin Company was responsible for a number of Boeing complexes, including the Boeing Assembly Plant of 1936-38 in Renton and the Boeing Plant No. 2 and Headquarters of 1940.

 Additional Sources

 “2003 4TH AVE / Parcel ID 1977201245, Huston Swanstrom Building/Marshall Building,” Historical Sites, Historic Resource Survey, Department of Neighborhoods, City of Seattle, available through portal:

 <>,  accessed April 23, 2010.

Grief, Martin. The New Industrial Landscape: The Story of The Austin Company. Clinton, N.J.: The Main Street Press, 1979.



This is a one-story building with a large rectangular footprint, 211 feet by 200 feet. It is distinguished by its symmetrical façade along First Avenue South and original steel sash. The building is located on the northwest corner of First Avenue South and Dawson St. The long First Avenue South façade is divided into seven sections, consisting of varying numbers of bays, creating the pattern: 1, 1, 3, 1, 3, 1, 1, (with 1 representing one bay).

Each bay has one large opening, originally filled with multi-pane steel sash, organized in three sections. The original steel sash also featured an operable area in the central section. Certain bays have parapets that are higher than those of the standard bays and, in plan, also project out very slightly. The overall composition is symmetrical and the slight variety in the composition helps to break up what would otherwise be a very monotonous facade.

The façade is arranged as follows: there is a central section, with a higher parapet, that consists of one bay. To each side of this is a longer section, consisting of three similar, standard bays. To each side of this arrangement, there is one higher single bay, followed by one standard bay. Of the eleven bays, six retain the entirety of their original steel sash glazing and a seventh retains most of it. The three bays at the northern end of the elevation feature new glazing. The window opening of the original central bay with the raised parapet has been filled in, with a door added.

The south elevation, located along Dawson Street, has few openings, aside from service entrances covered by an overhead canopy. The north elevation includes many window openings, with both original steel sash and newer glazing.

Detail for 5033 1ST AVE / Parcel ID 3573200820 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: LR, INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Manufacturing Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Storefront: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Polk's Seattle Directories, 1890-1996.
Drawings, Microfiche Files, Department of Planning and Development.
King County Assessor Property Characteristics Report, database at --parcel locator

Photo collection for 5033 1ST AVE / Parcel ID 3573200820 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Feb 28, 2010
App v2.0.1.0