This building was either constructed or heavily remodeled in 1913 based on a design prepared by Seattle architect Victor W. Voorhees. As later remodeled (1955) to serve as Malmen’s Fine Foods, this building contributes to the architectural and historic character of 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 the post annexation era of commercial and industrial development (1908-1930) when after the annexation of Ballard to Seattle, substantial construction continued to occur along Ballard Avenue and it remained the commercial center of the community. However, commercial development occurred at a slower pace and was more concentrated near NW Market Street. Three distinctive reinforced concrete buildings were built early in this period; the Hyde & Fitzgerald Building (aka Eagles Block, 1908), the O’Donnell Hotel Building (1909) and the Ballard Savings & Loan Building (1914). Gradually new construction and business activity became much more concentrated near Market Street.
During this era Ballard, and Seattle as a whole, became more auto-oriented and associated businesses, including a Ford showroom, were established on Ballard Avenue. The streetscape changed significantly after 1916 when prohibition was instituted and long-established local saloons were converted to tobacco, candy, ice cream and soft drink businesses. The 5-year long construction and the completion of the nearby Hiram Chittenden Locks and the Lake Washington Ship Canal in 1916 also spurred major changes within the local community and increased industrial and commercial fishing activity. Prior to the construction of the locks, barges and ships could only dock at Salmon Bay during high tide, whereas after the construction the waterway remained at a much more constant lake level, which was conducive for shipping and product distribution purposes. The creation of the ship canal also required the construction of a new Ballard Bridge (1918) and spurred associated road improvement and paving projects. With traffic revisions and roadway improvements, Market Street (formerly Broadway Street) began to be developed as the principal commercial thoroughfare. In 1927-28, the completion of the massive Ballard Building established Market Street as the modern commercial center in Ballard. However, numerous distinctive commercial buildings continued to be built along Ballard Avenue up until the onset of the Depression era.
City of Seattle DPD microfilm permit records include Permit #122442 that was issued to the Alma Investment Co. on 4-28-1913 to build a “one story addition” to the subject building for $6000. Given the construction costs, this was a major construction project. The permit noted that Victor W. Voorhees* was the architect and the builder would be C.F. Martin. The site/prior building had housed the long-established Old Home saloon and café for several years (after it relocated to this site from the nearby Matthes/Elks Temple building. [It may have been originally built as a wood-frame structure and remodeled. However, the subject building is brick masonry and appears to have been entirely built in 191]). The business continued to function here as the Old Home under a variety of business owners. The 1937 tax photograph documented the highly distinctive façade and stepped/curved parapet that appear to have been part of Voorhees’ work. Tax records indicate that the building was remodeled in 1948 (Permit #386161); however, the extent of that work is not known. Tax records indicate that the modernized current façade was constructed in 1955 per [??Permit #6000]; however, the work may have occurred in 1948. The façade was extensively modernized and clad with structural glass and ceramic tile. By 1956, it functioned as “Malmen’s Fine Food” specializing in Swedish-American fare. The paving at the entrance to the business includes “Malmen” in the tile, which further confirms the use at that time and possible association with the façade remodel. It became well known as Hattie’s Hat and has functioned under that name for over five decades.
*Victor W. Voorhees (1876-1970) began his long Seattle career in Ballard c.1904 and is credited with the design of hundreds of industrial, commercial and residential buildings over the following three decades. He may be best known for the his house plan book “Western Home Builder” that was initially published in 1907, as well as numerous extant commercial properties throughout the city. The nearby Markusen Building may be one of the earliest examples of Voorhees commercial work in Seattle. Voorhees appears to have had an office in the “Lombardini Block - #6” (Junction Block 5200 Ballard Avenue NW) as of the 1905 Ballard City Directory. An article appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on 8-14-1904 (pg.12, col.1) that noted Fisher, Voorhees and T.G. Bird “have taken up rooms together in the McDonald Block at 2nd and Ballard” - the McDonald Block appears to be a reference to McDonald’s Hall – which was located in the DeCurtin/Junction Block in 1904. Thomas G. Bird is credited with the design of the Junction Block, although it appears that Voorhees and Bird may have practiced together for a brief period; early in Voorhees’ career and late in Bird’s career. It is not known if Voorhees played any role in the design of the Junction Block (aka DeCurtin/Lombardini Block). However, Voorhees was responsible for the design of numerous buildings that were subsequently built along or near Ballard Avenue and clearly had ties to the business community there. Fisher & Voorhees also had a brief partnership and are believed to have designed another brick commercial business block on Ballard Avenue for George Jacobs at the same time as the Markusen Building; however, the subsequent address and status of this project are not known. (Seattle Post Intelligencer 10/4/1904, pg.14, col.2) It unclear if Fisher was in fact Elmer H. Fisher (ca.1843-1905) who was Seattle’s most prolific post-fire architect and responsible for the design of highly regarded Romanesque Revival commercial blocks in the old downtown commercial core and Belltown. In addition to the subject building and the Markusen Block, V.W. Voorhees is known to have designed the William Curtiss Co. Block (1911) at Leary and 22nd Avenue NW, the Eagle Block (1918-09 at 5412 Ballard Avenue NW), and the Frank Pyle Building (1913, at 5421 Ballard Avenue NW) as well as several early 20th C. Ballard residences that were included in his planbook or constructed from plans selected from the planbook.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
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.)
Baist’s Real Estate Atlas of Surveys of Seattle, Wash. Philadelphia: W.G. Baist, 1912.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1884-1951. Digital versions available via Seattle Public Library - www.spl.org.