The earliest commercial use of the shoreline along the end of <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">Lake <st1:placename w:st="on">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. 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.
By 1905, the Polk Directory to the City of Seattle listed 37 laundries and 35 "Chinese and Japanese" laundries. The listing did include some individual laundresses who took wash into their homes, but the number of businesses listed indicates the rise of commercial laundries in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Seattle. The rise of large commercial laundry operations in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Seattle and particularly the South Lake Union and Cascade neighborhoods is directly related to the increased local population, electrical power and modern laundering technology in conjunction with improved transportation routes. "<st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Seattle's commercial laundries prospered in the years following 1900. Large, brick steam- and electric-powered plants filled with the latest machinery, offered complete laundry service to households, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and offices. Wagon drivers, working on commission, solicited business and picked up laundry bundles" (Supply Laundry Landmark Designation Report).
The subject building was initially constructed in c.1905 to house the Washington Laundry Co. The original building appears to have been designed by architects Place & McCauley [possibly J.L. McCauley] and possibly built by David Dow. The company manager (and possible owner) was James T. Huff of the J.T. Huff Investment Co. During this same era several other commercial laundries were established in the general vicinity including: Supply Laundry Co. (1905 at <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">1265 Republican St.), Rainier Laundry (prior to 1915? at <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Westlake & <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Roy Street), Washington Supply laundry (1912, at <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">1271 Republican St.), Metropolitan Laundry (New Richmond Laundry (prior to 1915? at Ninth Avenue & Westlake). Thus, the subject building is among the oldest extant buildings in the district associated with the commercial laundry trade.
The 1917 Sanborn Insurance Map (Vol.4 Plate 492) noted that the original building included an elevator; it housed offices and facilities for washing, cleaning, dyeing, ironing, sorting & shipping and carpet cleaning. There was also a two-story auto garage, stable and wood storage facility located off of <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Fairview Avenue (not extant). The complex functioned as the Washington Laundry and then after 1939 as the Model Washington Laundry. The firm is known to have serviced many ships and shipping related vessels. The original building appears to have been repeatedly remodeled-upgraded during its nearly 40 years of use as a commercial laundry operation. In 1945, a new Model Washington Laundry plant was opened at <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Aurora and <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Broad Street (<st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">421-31 Aurora Ave) and the subject property was acquired by the Kirsten Pipe Co. (George Gunn, president) and remodeled/modernized to serve as a pipe manufacturing factory in 1946. In the early 1980’s the building began to be used as Antioch University West.