Constructed c.1905, the Fremont Saloon is among the oldest and one of the most intact and architecturally significant 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.
This building is was constructed c.1905 and appears to have been initially owned by John Bavery, who also owned the adjacent older building at 5333 Ballard Avenue NW. The storefront façade of the adjacent building was remodeled (date not known) to match and function as an addition to the Fremont Saloon building. Several businesses appear to have functioned in tandem with the adjacent building and the buildings were also historically owned in tandem. The original address was 261-265 Ballard Avenue. The 1905 insurance map noted the overhanging bay windows, the side stairway to the upper floor level and the “lodgings” use at the second floor level. There may have been 4 rooms and one bathroom with tub on the second floor. By 1906 the Fremont Saloon was operating in the building and very possibly within the adjacent older building. Records indicate that John Bavery was the property taxpayer and possibly part-business owner of the Fremont Saloon and building and he appears to have also owned the adjacent building. The saloon business was also owned and operated by Louis Anderson, who had since 1891 operated a successful barber shop in Ballard prior to becoming involved in the saloon business and fronting bonds for the licensing of various saloon enterprises. Anderson is known to have established the Fremont Saloon in 1902 and in 1906 the business moved to this address. In 1909 a John Bevry (assumed to be John Bavery) was identified as the owner on a building permit to undertake roof repairs on the subject building along with adjacent properties that he also owned. Louis Anderson (and possibly Lars Larsen) is believed to have operated the Fremont Saloon at this address up until Prohibition. After prohibition this building is known to have functioned in tandem with 5333 Ballard Avenue as the Quinlog Furniture & Hardware Co., which remained in operation here until at least 1937 or later. John Bavery (or his family members) appears to have continued to own this property (and 5333 Ballard Avenue) until at least the late-1930s or later. The upper floor level appears to have continued to function as small apartments with shared bathroom facilities.
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.