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Summary for 568 1st AVE / Parcel ID 7666206871 / Inv #

Historic Name: Provident Building Common Name: Provident Building
Style: Commercial - Chicago School Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1910
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
Designed in the Chicago School Commercial style as a wholesale warehouse by Saunders and Lawton, the Provident Building was completed in 1910. It is typical of warehouses erected in the neighborhood, particularly between 1900 and 1910, when both the district and Seattle experienced explosive economic and physical growth. Saunders and Lawton, a well-known architectural firm, were responsible for the largest number of warehouse buildings in the district during this period. The Saunders and Lawton partnership was formed in 1898, when Charles Saunders joined up with his former draftsman, George Lawton. Other warehouse buildings by the firm and all over the district, include the Norton Building of 1904, the Mottman Building of 1906 and the F. X. McRory Building (formerly the McKesson and Roberts Building) of 1906, the Westland Building of 1907 and the Polson Building of 1910. Charles Saunders’ career in Seattle, however, goes back to 1889. He came to Seattle in 1889 right after the Great Fire, probably because of an association with William Elder Bailey. Bailey was involved in ventures in real estate, railroads and newspapers in Seattle right after the Fire of 1889 until the early 1890s, when his finances went sour. By September of 1889, Charles Saunders had formed a partnership with Edwin Houghton, whom he may have met in California. The Saunders and Houghton Partnership produced several notable buildings in the new heart of Seattle right after the Fire of 1889, including the Bailey Building, the Terry Denny Building and the now demolished Olympic Block. Although it is known that Saunders grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, little is known about his initial training as an architect. After the dissolution of the Saunders and Houghton partnership in 1890, Saunders practiced independently until the formation of the Saunders and Lawton partnership in 1898, which lasted until 1915. Saunders and Lawton were also responsible for the Forestry Building, made of raw logs, at the Alaska-Yukon Exposition in Seattle in 1908-09 and were supervising architects on the construction of Eames and Young’s Alaska Building, also in the Pioneer Square Historic District.
The Provident Building is irregular in plan with a major façade fronting on First Avenue South, with one bay slightly angled from it and a more utilitarian elevation along Occidental Way South. The building structure combines reinforced concrete and heavy timber interior columns and beams. The First Avenue South façade, clad in red brick, has a two-part vertical block composition. The façade is divided into six bays, five of which front directly on First Avenue South and the sixth which faces Railroad Way at an acute angle. The façade is modestly ornamented, with the spandrel panels framed by brickwork and diamond pattern tiles. Simple rectangular window openings include large vertical pivot type sash in sets of two. Mezzanine level windows have been restored. There is an original entrance at the center bay, with an original sign inscribed with the words “Provident” above it. A simple brick cornice has been removed. The more utilitarian rear elevation has sustained minor alterations and a new coat of beige paint.

Detail for 568 1st AVE / Parcel ID 7666206871 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Concrete Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Warehouse Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: six
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce, Manufacturing/Industry
Changes to Original Cladding: Slight
Changes to Windows: Intact
Storefront: Slight
Changes to Plan: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Ochsner, Jeffrey and Dennis Andersen. Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and The Legacy of H. H. Richardson. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004.
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, Microfilm Records.
City of Seattle, Department of Neighborhoods, Historic Preservation Program Files (photo).
“Provident Building, 568 First Avenue South, Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 1.” 23 May 2001 (information on structure).
Sanborn (Insurance) Map Company, Seattle, Washington, 1916.

Photo collection for 568 1st AVE / Parcel ID 7666206871 / Inv #

Photo taken Nov 27, 2004
App v2.0.1.0