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Summary for 220 S DAWSON ST S / Parcel ID 3573700330 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Truck and Coach Division, General Motors Common Name: General Electric / Hudson Bay Insulation
Style: Modern - International Style Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1949
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).

Plat: Industrial Addition Replat, Block: F, Lot: Portion
Architect: Hollis Johnson
Contractor:  J. G. Watts

The building at 220 South Dawson St originally was constructed between 1948 and 1949. It is a good example of early Pacific Northwest International Modernism, as applied to a building designed for industrial purposes. Architect Hollis Johnston of Portland, Oregon designed it as a “Warehouse, Office and Storage Garage,” for the Truck and Coach Division of General Motors. The J. G. Watts Construction Company was the contractor. The permit also indicates that at the time of construction, the Union Pacific Railroad actually owned the property. The lower streamlined wing was originally designed for offices, while the back or north portion of the bigger wing was designed for truck storage. During the early 1950s, General Electric took over the building.

During the mid-1980s, General Electric made interior changes to the back part of the building, while the front portion remained office space.  By 2007, McKinstry owned the building. The company remodeled the northeastern corner of it, which is mostly not visible to the public.

Architect Hollis Johnston was as architectural graduate of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon. Later well known in Portland in his own right, he began his architectural career working in several well-known Portland firms, including Lawrence and Holford. By 1930, he was working on his own. He designed many schools and public buildings. During the Depression, he worked as chief consulting architect for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Bonneville Dam Project. He also designed many buildings, including housing, in the town of Bonneville, Oregon, much of which is gone. He founded the firm of Stanton and Johnston and during the 1950s, a partnership with architect Robert J. Koch. He is known for many works – some designed in historical styles, while later works are clearly Modernist. Historical examples include the Portland Town Club, built in 1931, (Johnson, Wallwork and Johnston), the Watson/Eastman House of 1928, both on the National Register of Historic Places, while the Lincoln High School of 1951 is a Modernist complex, located at 1600 Salmon Street in Portland.

Additional Sources

Jim Hays, “Bygone Bonneville,”The Oregonian, January 16, 2010,, accessed April 18, 2010.

Kimberly DeMuth, “Lincoln High School, 1600 Salmon St, Portland, Multnomah County,” Oregon Historic Site Form, October 14, 2009.


This building is located between 2nd and 3rd Avenue South. Its main south elevation faces Dawson Street. The building, which has concrete exterior walls, includes a longer and higher back wing. This wing is rectangular in plan and has a roof that rises above a lower parapet. This condition reflects the paired series of interior flat trusses (with hipped ends), that span from north to south, (perpendicular to Dawson St), and support the roof. In front of this wing, and set toward the west side of its main, south elevation, there is a lower and narrower one-story wing. The lower wing is more or less rectangular, but has streamlined corners, as well as a parapet. Based on original construction drawings, bow trusses, running in the north south direction support the roof. Assuming that this is still the case, the curvature in the roof is not visible over the parapet. A virtually continuous band of windows, set in aluminum frames, also makes the façade and side elevations of this wing stand out along Dawson Street. The remaining windows on the taller back wing appear to be replacements. Currently, the building is painted white with blue trim. This reinforces the building’s International Modernist appearance.

Detail for 220 S DAWSON ST S / Parcel ID 3573700330 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: INV
Cladding(s): Concrete, Metal, Wood Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet, Other, Other, Varied roof lines Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Transportation - Road- Related Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: one
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Transportation
Changes to Plan: Slight
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Drawings, Microfiche Files, Department of Planning and Development.

Photo collection for 220 S DAWSON ST S / Parcel ID 3573700330 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Feb 23, 2010
App v2.0.1.0