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Summary for 500 AURORA AVE / Parcel ID 198820-1250 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: J.T. Hardeman Hat Co. Factory Common Name: School of Visual Concepts
Style: Other - Industrial Neighborhood: South Lake Union
Built By: Year Built: 1920
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.

The earliest commercial use of the shoreline along the end of Lake Union involved farmsteads and early industries dependent on water-borne transportation. During the mid to late 19th C. the geographic area became a natural path for commerce and industry, primarily the movement of coal and logs, and the processing of lumber and wood or construction-related products. From the mid-1880s to the post-fire era, several industrial operations were established in the vicinity of the south end of Lake Union, including: numerous lumber milling operations; door, sash and shutter fabricators; furniture, mattress and paper box manufacturing companies; a carpet weaving plant and two breweries. Extensive areas of land to south of the mill complex were set aside for lumber storage purposes. During this era a large commercial laundry was also established near the west side of the sprawling Western Mill complex and small cabinet shops, wood working shops, and feed and grain operations were scattered throughout the district. After the turn-of-the-century the construction of modern industrial and warehousing facilities was spurred by improved and expanded rail and roadway transportation routes and the district became defined by these activities well into the 20th C. with a significant amount of industrial and commercial development occurring after the completion of the Lake Washington Ship Canal and end of WW I. Despite major late 20th C. land use and zoning changes that have spurred a significant amount of demolition and new high-rise commercial and residential construction, numerous extant historic buildings that are directly associated with industrial activities, and were designed/built for manufacturing and warehousing purposes, remain in place. 


This prominent factory building was designed and built for the J. T. Hardeman Hat Co. established in Seattle by Joseph T. Hardeman (1872-1943) c.1909. J.T. Hardeman was Missouri born and arrived in Seattle c.1904 where he initially worked in the dry goods trade. The initial/original location of the hat factory was at 114 King Street; however, in 1920 the operation was relocated to this custom-designed modern factory building constructed that year on property purchased by Hardeman 2-10-1920. This 4-story (w/ basement) reinforced concrete structure measured 33’ X 108’ and was custom designed by Seattle architect Clayton D. Wilson according to Permit #189993 and architectural drawings included in the Seattle DPD Microfilm Library. The business became an internationally known firm with extensive domestic and export markets. Mr. Hardeman remained president of the firm until his death in September 1943 after which the plant building and the business was sold to L.C. Mounger and J.C. Caldbick who continued to operate it. By that time, Glen C. North was the plant manager and several members of staff had been with the company for 35 years (Seattle Times 12-05-1944, p. 18).  The factory functioned as a hat manufacturing and wholesale warehouse operation until early 1954, when all of the office and factory equipment was sold. Emil Gaupholm (sp) acquired the property at an unknown date and in early 1959 undertook a project to convert the building into commercial office spaces according to an innovative design credited to architect Donald N. McDonald. Twenty-four (24) individual office spaces were created – 6 per floor with common restroom facilities. The offices were accessed via a new open balcony and stair system added at north side of building. The building has continued to function for office and classroom purposes since the conversion. 


Clayton D. Wilson (August 1865-?) biographical info:  Born in Ohio; may have arrived in Seattle from San Diego in 1900; employed by Bebb & Mendel, Seattle, 1901; independent architectural practice after 1901 (briefly associated with William W. de Veaux, 1903);  designed Municipal Building (later Public Safety Building; now 400 Yesler Building), Seattle (1904-09, altered); developed extensive residential practice, western Washington; in partnership Wilson & Loveless, with Arthur L. Loveless, Seattle, 1908-1911; designed William Bloch, Sr., residence, Seattle (1908), Clayton D. Wilson residence, Seattle (1911); practiced independently in Seattle, 1911-39; designed White & Hitchcock building, Seattle (1930-31), Loren & Vera Howden residence, Seattle (1939); retired to Port Gamble, 1941; date and place of death unknown.  [Credit: Shaping Seattle Architecture 2014, Veith & Rash.] 


Donald Neil McDonald Sr. (1906-1964) studied at the architectural school at the University of Washington (1924-29) but did not receive a formal degree. He gained initial practical experience by working as a draftsman in a variety of architectural offices, and spent two years as a senior architectural draftsman for the City of Seattle (1927-1929). He formed a partnership with Vas Stimson (1930-1935) and returned to independent practice c. 1938. Some of initial projects included the Hotel Baranof in Juneau, Alaska (1939); and Tall’s Travel Shop (1939) in downtown Seattle. Reportedly he designed additional hotels in Anchorage and Honolulu but this has not been verified. After the war, in the mid 1950s, McDonald specialized in apartment house design with notable Seattle projects: the Sands Apartments (1958); 700 E. Mercer St. Apartments (1959); Belmont Tower (1959); Capri Apartments (1959); the curtain walled 1221 Minor Ave. Apartments (1960) on Capitol Hill; Seven Hundred East Mercer Street Apartments (1960); and the Laurelhurst Apartments (1960). Additional projects included Married Student Housing Washington State College (1957) in Pullman; a 200-unit public housing project Lakewood Park in White Center (1963) for the King County Housing Authority; the Tropic Motel (1958); and the Proctor & Associates Office Building (1962) in Bellevue. [Credit: DoCoMoMo WeWa architect information] 

This property was determined not eligible for NRHP by SHPO –9/18/2013 (AWT Tunnel EIS). 

See DAHP database – HPI Report dated 9/19/2009. 



Notable Features and/or Finishes: Distinctive factory/warehouse building type remodeled in 1959 to function as commercial offices. Tall narrow, 4-story, one-part commercial block building form,; prominent exposed concrete structural frame (painted) at west, south and east elevations; structural bays (six at south elev. two at east & west elev.) with recessed concrete spandrels and large window openings; stepped parapet at SE corner and east elevation; historic painted wall sign - “J.T. Hardeman Hat Co.” - at parapet (east elevation). South elevation exhibits innovative adaptation to commercial office use including stair towers framing open balconies w/ pipe columns and rails at all four floor levels/ modern fenestration intact. Modern wall signage at 1959 stair tower additions. 


Alterations: Original industrial multi-pane wooden sash at all floor levels by modern aluminum sash members (part of 1959 remodel); original building entrance (off Republican) at central bay - south elevation infilled; portions of stepped parapet at south elevation/west end and north elevation east & west end removed.  



Detail for 500 AURORA AVE / Parcel ID 198820-1250 / Inv # 0

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Industry/Processing/Extraction - Manufacturing Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: four
Unit Theme(s): Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Plan: Moderate
Changes to Windows: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Interior: Moderate
Major Bibliographic References
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.

Photo collection for 500 AURORA AVE / Parcel ID 198820-1250 / Inv # 0

Photo taken May 01, 2014

Photo taken May 01, 2014

Photo taken May 01, 2014
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