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Summary for 95 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 5247800055 / Inv #

Historic Name: Bank of Commerce Building Common Name: Yesler Building
Style: Commercial, Queen Anne - Richardsonian Romanesque Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
Built By: Year Built: 1891
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).
The bottom three floors of the former Bank of Commerce Building, now called the Yesler Building, were designed by architect Elmer Fisher. An early photo of the building by Asahel Curtis indicates that the top floor of the building was added somewhat later, probably by 1895. Emil DeNeuf is responsible for the upper floor. The original building was commissioned by mill owner and entrepreneur Henry Yesler in 1890, along with the building across the street on First Avenue, the Mutual Life Building (confusingly enough called the “Yesler Building” in Fisher and Yesler’s day). Both buildings were located across the Public Square, now called Pioneer Place, from Fisher’s very successful Pioneer Building, also commissioned by Henry Yesler. Henry Yesler was one of Seattle’s earliest and founding settlers, and an influential early Seattle entrepreneur, guiding force and owner of prime real estate in the area around the Public Square and north of Mill Street, currently known as Yesler Way. He owned the Puget Sound’s first steam operated mill, operated a grist mill as well as a general store. Two of the four mills he owned were located west of the site of the present Mutual Life Building. Elmer Fisher produced an incredible number of buildings, especially between 1889 and 1891 and is considered the most prolific of the post-fire architects.He came to the Pacific Northwest in 1886 and designed buildings in Vancouver, Victoria and Port Townsend, before coming to Seattle in 1889. His most well-known work in Seattle is the Pioneer Building, which he designed for Henry Yesler. By 1891, despite the accolades the Pioneer Building received in 1892, he had abandoned his career as an architect to run the Abbott Hotel in Seattle, which he had also designed and built. Emil DeNeuf arrived in Seattle in 1889 and began his career as a draftsman in Elmer Fisher’s office. He had an independent practice by the end of 1891. He was retained by Henry Yesler to complete the Mutual Life Building and was the designer of the Lowman and Hanford Building. Subsequently, DeNeuf had a partnership with Augustus Heide, with whom he designed the Lowman Building (ca.1906). This lasted from 1901 to 1906. DeNeuf also practiced architecture in Guatemala from 1894 to 1900 and was Mayor of West Seattle from 1900 to 1905. Sometime around 1906, DeNeuf moved to San Francisco, where he practiced architecture and designed several notable Mission Style Revival public buildings. He died in 1915.
The former Bank of Commerce Building, now known as the Yesler Building, is four stories in height and was built on a lot measuring 24 feet by 70 feet. It is almost rectangular in plan, but has an angled façade between the long Yesler Way façade and a one bay façade along First Avenue South. The longer Yesler Way façade, clad in rusticated sandstone is organized as four bays of tall arches that are three stories in height. The fourth level, added subsequently, is clad in light grey brick with each upper bay consisting of two separate rectangular openings with double-hung windows. A prominent cornice, featuring decorative and somewhat squat bracket shapes, set above the inset window openings, caps the parapet. The single First Avenue South bay is composed in the same way as the typical bay on the Yesler Way façade. The angled elevation is also has one bay with a tall arch. Here, however, a grand portal occurs and leads to a business on the lower level. Above the main portal is a balcony also of rusticated sandstone. Delicate Romanesque Revival carving in floral motifs springs up under the balcony and at both sides of the portal and also occurs on the capitals of all the rusticated piers that define the bays.

Detail for 95 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 5247800055 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status: NR, LR
Cladding(s): Brick, Stone - Ashlar/cut Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Asphalt/Composition
Building Type: Commercial/Trade - Financial Institution Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Masonry - Unreinforced No. of Stories: four
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Commerce
Storefront: Moderate
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Windows: Slight
Major Bibliographic References
Woodbridge, Sally and Roger Montgomery. A Guide to Architecture in Washington State. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980.
Luxton, Donald, editor,, Building the West: the Early Architects of British Columbia. Vancouver B.C.: Talonbooks, 2003, 244-5.
Ochsner, Jeffrey and Dennis Andersen. Distant Corner: Seattle Architects and The Legacy of H. H. Richardson. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2004.

Photo collection for 95 Yesler WAY / Parcel ID 5247800055 / Inv #

Photo taken May 24, 2004

Photo taken May 24, 2004
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