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Summary for 2958 6TH AVE / Parcel ID 7666203736 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Robertson Freight Lines/ Warehouse for D. S. Tobias Common Name: Alaskan Copper Employment Office
Style: Other - Industrial, Vernacular Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1947

Architect Andrew Willatsen initially designed 2598 6th Ave South - the office wing, as well as the freight shed wing - in 1941. The complex was designed as a “Warehouse & Garage for D. S. Tobias.” On another titleblock, it is also described as an “Auto Freight Depot for D. S. Tobias.” Willatsen also made later changes to the complex in 1947, also for the same client.  In fact, D. S. Tobias appears to have been the owner of Robertson Freight Lines. Architect Benjamin McAdoo designed the small eastern addition to the original office at the end of 1950. By that time, the complex was called the Robertson Freight Depot, but the owner was still David Tobias. By 1956, the building housed the Denver Chicago Trucking Company and by 1970, Northwest Freight Lines. It is not clear if there was a succession of freight lines in the building, or whether there were simply several changes of name.

Architect Andrew Willatsen, born in 1876, worked in Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio in Oak Park, Illinois, beginning in 1902 or 1903. There, he worked on the remodel of the Rookery, as well as the interiors of the Darwin Martin House. He moved to Spokane in 1907 and worked for Cutter and Malmgren. In 1909, he and Barry Byrne founded the partnership of Willatsen and Byrne. The firm produced many designs in both the Prairie and Craftsman styles. Willatsen is probably best known for the design of the Black House (1914) in Seattle, which he produced after the Willatsen and Byrne partnership had dissolved. After 1915, he also worked on a variety of alterations within the Pike Place Market. Although he apparently officially retired in the late 1940s, he was also responsible for the Richard Desimone House in 1959. Compared to some of his more sophisticated work, this small office building is very simple, but has many pleasing elements, which reflect the talents of its original designer.

Architect Benjamin McAdoo also worked on the eastern addition to this simple building. He may also have added another shed, but, if it is still on the property, it is not visible from the street. As an addition to the office building, his was a sensitive solution. McAdoo is known as the first African-American architect to have a long-term architectural practice in the State of Washington. He obtained a B.Arch. the University of Washington in 1946. During the 1950s, McAdoo became known for his Modernist residential design work and later for the original University of Washington Cultural Center (1970-1972) and Fire Station No. 29 in West Seattle (1969-72). For McAdoo, the remodel came relatively early in his career and within the body of his entire work, is fairly minor. Still, it is of some interest that two major Seattle architects, who represent very different styles of architecture and historical times, both worked on this small building.

Based on a sign above the entrance and one at the top of the parapet, the small office building now functions as the employment office for Alaska Copper Works, which has been in the building, since at least 1980. The distribution company for the Alaskan Copper Works is the Alaska Copper and Brass Company. The two companies, as described on the Alaska Copper Works website, continue to operate as a “combined metal service center, manufacturer and fabricator of corrosion-resistant alloy products.” Within the Industrial District, the two companies are a major landowner and, as of 2003, owned 19 acres. Morris Rosen founded the Alaskan Copper Works along Alaskan Way during the early Twentieth Century. The company has been run by at least three generations of the Rosen family and retains many experienced workers who have been with the company for over thirty years.

Additional Sources

Alaskan Copper website, <  >, accessed April, 2010.

Richard Seven, “How Goes SODO?,” Seattle Times, Pacific Northwest Magazine, October 19, 2003, database at :<>, accessed March 2010.


2598 6th Ave S is a two-story frame building with horizontal wood siding. Originally, a one-story freight shed, which was longer than ten bays, was attached to the two-story building, which operated as a front office wing. The freight shed was located behind and east of the office wing. It terminated in a more enclosed bay that had a multi-pane window at its south elevation. This bay contained a “checking office” and bathrooms.

Despite changes over time, the original office wing’s main façade, located along 6th Avenue South, has retained a good degree of integrity. The main façade has a symmetrical composition. It has a central entry consisting of a double door, topped by a blind transom and a streamline metal marquee. To each side, two long window openings flank the central entry. These openings, as well as those at the second level, have thin surrounds, which are distinctive. At the second level, the corresponding window openings are each divided into a vertical row of three panes. The central pane is an operable awning window. Above the central doorway, the window is also divided into three panes, but is about as wide as the entry below.

The major change is that the first floor windows have been replaced with single panes, probably fixed plate glass. There is an air conditioner set into the transom above the door. Based on original drawings, most of the other elements, including the metal marqueee, are original, (or a good replacement in kind).

The south elevation is hard to see, since a large metal shipping container is set in front of it. The north elevation retains what seem to be original windows, as well, although there is a small addition, similar to the original wing, just to the east. On the other hand, the view of much of the north elevation is also blocked.

Detail for 2958 6TH AVE / Parcel ID 7666203736 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: LR, INV
Cladding(s): Brick, Metal - Aluminum Siding, Wood, Wood - Clapboard Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Transportation - Road- Related Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Braced Frame No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry, Transportation
Changes to Plan: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
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.

Photo collection for 2958 6TH AVE / Parcel ID 7666203736 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Feb 02, 2010

Photo taken Feb 02, 2010
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