Reportedly constructed in 1900, this generally well-preserved small masonry and concrete building is typical of late-nineteenth construction and is among the oldest 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.
[aka 5237 Ballard Avenue NW] Efforts to identify the original owner, builder or tenants of this historic property have been unsuccessful. According to historic insurance maps its original address was 229 Ballard Avenue. By c.1904 it may have been in use as a meat market and according to City directories it served as the location of the Bank of Ballard c.1907. Sometime after 1908 it appears to have been the offices of Roy E. Powers, who specialized in safe deposit boxes, investments, loans, rent collection and fire insurance. The building was purchased by Florence Lindauer in 1931 and may have been associated with the jewelry store operated by Chas. Lindauer. Post-1937 tax records indicate that it functioned as a store/barber shop (selling Van Dyke cigars) and at some later point housed a Chinese laundry. Historically, the storefront included an off- set single entry door, a low panelized bulkhead, large display windows and a band of four transom lights. Tax photo (1937) indicates that there was some distinctive architectural ornament (Spanish –style curvilinear applied crests) above the window and doors openings on the NW elevation (Vernon Place), an indication that the historic façade was much more ornament. At some point prior to 1976, a modern addition was made to the rear, the ornament at the NW elevation removed, the exterior clad with stucco and the historic storefront was remodeled to include a second entry door and roman brick cladding. Since designation, the entire storefront has been thoughtfully reconstructed with a single cut-away entry door vestibule, low bulkheads and some non-historic architectural details.
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, 1905, 1912.
Sanborn Insurance Maps, 1884-1951. Digital versions available via Seattle Public Library - www.spl.org.