Constructed ca.1905, the old Ballard Hardware & Supply Co. Building is among the oldest and most intact/distinctive historic buildings within the Ballard Avenue Landmark District. The Ballard Avenue Landmark District encompasses a particularly well preserved section of one of several successful small towns that flourished around the perimeter of Seattle in the late nineteenth century and would be subsequently incorporated into the metropolis. Ballard Avenue is lined with an intact collection of modest scale commercial buildings that reflect the development of the community’s main commercial street between 1890 and 1930. The character of this distinctive historic streetscape was primarily preserved because it was by-passed by Post-War era development that instead occurred along modern arterials - Market Street and 15th Avenue, to the north and east. In 1976, the Ballard Avenue Landmark District was formally designated a local historic district by the City of Seattle and was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places (Ballard Avenue Historic District).
This historic property is directly associated with a crucial era in the commercial and industrial development of Ballard (1900-1907) when the commercial district along Ballard Avenue was fully established and a significant number of permanent buildings were constructed. By the early 1900s Ballard became known as the “Shingle Capital of the World” with approximately twenty lumber and shingle mills in full operation. In addition to the mill operations the industrialized shoreline included iron foundries, machine shops, paint manufactures, shipyards, pipe making plants and boiler works. Substantial commercial buildings were constructed along Ballard Avenue as the local population grew to over 10,000 residents (including 3,400+ school age children) by 1904. During this era Ballard Avenue functioned as a full service commercial street populated by numerous boarding houses, hotels and lodging houses, clothing merchants, banks, hardware dealers, druggists, dry good stores, laundry businesses, meat markets, restaurants, theaters and saloons. Gradually, the earliest wood-frame structures were replaced by more permanent – often architect designed – commercial buildings. Among the distinctive masonry and stone buildings that date from this era and most of which continue to characterize the streetscape are the G.B. Sanborn Block (1901, Portland Building (1901), Felt Block/Jones Building (1901, demolished), St. Charles Hotel (1902), Deep Sea Fisherman’s Building (1902), Scandinavian American Bank (1902), Matthes Block (1903), Kelsey Block (1903), Junction/Lombardini Block (1904), Kutzner Block (1904), Barthelemy Bros. Hardware Building (c.1904), Ernst Brothers Hardware Building (1904, demolished), A.L. Palmer Building (1905), Theisen Block (1905), Ballard Hardware Supply (1905), Peterson Hardware Co. (c.1905), Markussen Building (1905), and the Enquist Block (1906). In late 1906 Ballard residents approved annexation and the town became part of the City of Seattle on January 1, 1907. The boom era of major commercial construction began to lessen after the annexation. The building has been carefully rehabilitated and well-preserved since the historic district designation.
[aka 5227-5229 Ballard Avenue NW] Efforts to identify the original owner, builder or architect responsible for the construction and design of this building have been unsuccessful. It was designed to function for upper floor office room purposes with two ground floor retail spaces. It utilizes a very common central entry/stair passage plan providing access to second floor level and exhibits a prominent central recessed entry bay; numerous other historic properties on Ballard Avenue followed this same basic scheme. Built on the former site of White Front Saloon, when this building was constructed c.1905 it is believed to have initially housed the St. Paul Saloon (proprietors James Boyce and Walter Barrow). The 1905 Sanborn insurance map noted that the building [with original address at 221-223 Ballard Avenue] was two stories with two ground floor shops, a central stairwell and offices on the second floor. City directories identified the Bellingham Saloon as an early tenant. In 1910 the building was purchased by Albin and Oscar Matthes (owners of the Matthes Block/Elks Temple Building) where they subsequently operated a refreshment parlor during the prohibition era. A candy manufacturing business (1913) and a grocery business (1913) also operated here and the upper floors level housed various office tenants including lawyers, real estate, investment and insurance brokers. .By 1937, the ground floor housed a paper hanging/paint /sign making business (C.B. Merrill) and a second hand store (Taylor & Bohon) In 1952, Jim Fryberg and Lyle Hartje began to operate Ballard Hardware & Supply Co. - a marine and industrial hardware supply house serving the fishing and crabbing industries – which also sold new and used household hardware items and became a mainstay of Ballard Avenue for over forty years.
Property Record Cards (1937-1972). Washington State Regional Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch, Bellevue, WA.
“Ballard Avenue Historic District” National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form (Prepared by Elisabeth Walton Potter, OAHP, April 1976.)
Ballard Historical Society, Ballard Avenue Landmark District Plaque Project records.
Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Seattle, Wash. Philadelphia: W.G. Baist, 1905, 1912.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1884-1951. Digital versions available via Seattle Public Library - www.spl.org.