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Summary for 2901 6TH AVE / Parcel ID 7666204210 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Langendorf United Bakeries Common Name: Franz Family Bakeries
Style: Modern, Modern - International Style Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1952
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).


Henry Bittman designed the main building for the Langendorf United Bakeries, Incorporated in 1951. It was completed between 1951 and 1952. Not long after, small interior changes were made. These involved the addition of an 8000 gallon tank and the construction of a support for a sugar storage tank in 1952. A bread storage loading rack was installed in 1955 and two donut fryers in 1966. In 1955, Henry Bittman’s successor firm, Bittman and Sanders also designed a smaller building, a “new repair garage,” located on the southwest corner of the property. This has been more significantly altered and is also somewhat difficult to access. By 1986, Gai’s Bakery was the owner of the entire property. Franz Bakery is now the owner of the former Langendorf buildings.  It still runs a wholesale outlet, located toward the south side of the long elevation along 6th Avenue South. The larger building has maintained many architectural elements, while other characteristic features are gone.

This is a Modernist design produced by an engineer and architect long associated with many Seattle buildings, designed according to historical styles; however, toward the end of his career and life, Henry Bittman, as well as his successors, also clearly made the transition to Modernism. Bittman died in late 1953 and he stamped many of the drawings for the Modernist design of the former “Addressograph Multigraph Agency,” a comparatively modest building, (405 Fairview Avenue North), completed after his death. The former Langendorf Bakeries Building, a much larger building, is also perhaps a better Modernist example. Both buildings contrast with Bittman’s earlier work.

Henry Bittman’s office was responsible for many beautifully designed terra cotta clad buildings in Seattle, particularly in Seattle’s downtown during the 1920s. Bittman was born in the early 1880s and grew up in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. His initial education focused on structural engineering. He appears to have attended both Cooper Union and Pratt Institute (Brooklyn) in New York and very possibly the Armour Institute in Chicago. When he arrived in Seattle in 1906, he worked as a bridge designer and in 1907, he started a short-lived partnership with William Kingsley, an architect. By 1908, Bittman had his own engineering practice. He was licensed as an architect in 1923, and, following this, his office became especially successful, particularly during the 1920s. Among the notable buildings designed by the Bittman firm in Seattle, still standing and reasonably intact are: the Terminal Sales Building (1923), the Decatur Building (1921), the Olympic Tower (ca. 1929), the Eagles Auditorium (1924-25), the Hubbel Building (1922) and the 1929-1931 addition to the King County Courthouse.



This one story building has a very large footprint, approximately 250 feet by 420 feet. It is almost rectangular in plan, with a small area cut away at on the north side of the main elevation along 6th Avenue South. Based on original drawings, this area, basically a small courtyard, was originally landscaped with lawn. There is still some vestige of the original parterres, although hardscape and shrubs have apparently replaced lawn. The courtyard led to the recessed main entry and to a lobby and office areas. A “Route Truck Loading area,” with direct access to 6th Avenue South, with behind it, a “Production Area,” took up large portions of the plan. On the west side or back of the building, another large area was devoted to flour storage, general storage, a boiler room, as well as separate lunch rooms for men and women, locker rooms and showers. There also appears to have been a store, open to the public, on the south end of the 6th Ave South elevation.

The original structure included concrete exterior walls, covered with brick veneer in strategic places, and repeated flat trusses, (running east-west), particularly over the front “Truck Loading Area.” and over the back “Flour Storage Area.” The trusses were hinged on the side of the parapet of the exterior walls. The roof rises slightly above the parapet, but is mostly not visible from the street.

The main façade includes the entry, which consists of a double door, flanked on each side by two sidelights, all in metal frame. Corresponding fixed transoms top all of these. Aside from this glazed entry, the rest of this portion of the façade has brick veneer set over concrete wall. The short elevation, perpendicular to the entry area, also has multi-pane glazing and brick veneer cladding. A short, partially freestanding wall, which is set in line with the rest of the main façade and has three rectangular openings, also frames this short northern elevation. The brick of this wall contrasts with the lighter color of the wall of the main façade to the south. Above the short north wall, there is also a very tall sign tower. It is rectangular in plan, but topped by semi-circular shape. Although originally built for Langendorf Bakeries, the tower currently is painted with graphics advertising “Franz Bakery,” and “Premium White.”

Continuing on the main façade, there is a row of eleven window openings.  Each opening includes a central and longer window, divided into three by thin muntins, with a smaller window set above and below it. There is a continuous overhang that ties together this portion of the main façade with the neighboring, courtyard elevations, as well as three large window openings and a doorway on the main north elevation. South of the bank of eleven window openings, the very long elevation consists of service entries, as well as banks of similar windows. Based on original photos and drawings, the southern portion of this elevation and the configuration of windows versus service entries have altered over time, although there is a general sense of the original design. Also, service doors now go down to grade, whereas originally they each topped what was apparently a loading platform.

The north side of the building faces Forest St. It is now partially hidden by an overpass. It functions perhaps more as a minor elevation than it once did. The recessed elevation of the courtyard features a single window opening, as well as a larger opening divided into three sections. The actual pattern of glazing is similar to the glazing on the main façade. As described previously, the wall here is clad in brick (over concrete). A freestanding brick wall, similar to the one already described along the main façade, also frames the main entry to the lobby and offices. The longer side of the tall sign tower is set above. Moving onto the main north façade, there are three large multi-pane openings. This eastern portion of the Forest St elevation is fairly close to Bittman’s original design.

The condition of the western portion of the north elevation is a different matter. As shown on the drawings, the north elevation rises several feet. The first portion of this elevated wall corresponded to the “Production Area,” which was once expressed by a large steel sash window, set between “fluted pier panels.” This window, as well as other openings, including a major entry at the west end of the elevation, is no longer there. In fact, the west side of the elevation is now mainly blank wall, with very few openings. An additional signage tower is also shown in Bittman’s drawing. Assuming that it was built, it too is has disappeared.

Detail for 2901 6TH AVE / Parcel ID 7666204210 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: LR, INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete, Concrete - Block Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Business Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Storefront: Moderate
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.
Lydia Aldredge, Editor, Impressions of Imagination: Terra Cotta Seattle, Seattle: Allied Arts, 1986.
King County Assessor Property Characteristics Report, database at --parcel locator

Photo collection for 2901 6TH AVE / Parcel ID 7666204210 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Feb 05, 2010
App v2.0.1.0