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Summary for 3613 4th AVE / Parcel ID 7666205660 / Inv # SCL019

Historic Name: South Substation Warehouse and Shops Common Name: South Service Center
Style: Other - Industrial Neighborhood: Duwamish
Built By: Year Built: 1924
Initially constructed in 1924, this large warehouse, shop, office and garage complex has been significantly altered over the years in response to the changing needs of City Light’s electric utility operations. Between 1962 and 1970, City Light substantially rehabilitated and modernized the facility, radically altering its appearance. Before the construction of this facility, City Light maintained machine and general shops, a warehouse, and a garage for 56 automobiles and trucks located at 9th Avenue South and South Lander Street. City Light also leased a 23,000 square foot warehouse on 6th Avenue South closer to downtown Seattle to accommodate the overflow of stock from their main warehouse. Early in 1923, City Light acquired a 15.8 acre site at Fourth Avenue South and South Spokane Street in order to construct a new building with shops, a warehouse and a garage. This site would eventually develop into City Light’s primary south end facility. The following year, a modern, fireproof shop, warehouse and garage building was erected of reinforced concrete and designed to facilitate the handling of materials with the least expense. Covering a ground space of 225 feet by 360 feet with a total floor space of three and a half acres, the building featured a craneway down the taller center portion served by its own railway spur. The warehouse was located in the larger one-story wing on the east side of the craneway along Fourth Avenue South, while the shops were located in the smaller one-story wing on the west. The new building also contained a garage and repair shop, which accommodated the 72 trucks and automobiles, used in the construction, maintenance and operation work of City Light. For more than thirty years, this building was City Light’s primary warehouse and shops facility until the completion of the North Service Center in 1958. In the early 1960s, City Light began the necessary process of substantially modernizing the older complex to turn it into a long-planned South Service Center. In 1962, the loading dock along the east elevation was adapted for the efficient use of modern material-handling equipment and methods. Alterations included the removal of structural columns to create an open loading dock area, which was covered by a new marquee and served by new dock elevators and cranes. Over the next eight years, the original facility, designated as "Building A," was substantially rehabilitated and modernized on both the interior and exterior to serve more specialized functions. In 1965, a new "Building B" was constructed on a site to the west for use as a new storage, shops, and crew-headquarters unit. As originally designed, its mixture of Mission Revival and Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features embellished a Vernacular Industrial building. Subsequent alterations and additions have mostly removed or obscured these original design elements. Despite these changes, the building is significant for its association with the growth and development of City Light.
Completed in1924, this much-altered reinforced concrete warehouse and shops complex is situated at the northeast corner of a large site roughly bounded by South Spokane and South Dakota Streets and by 2nd and 4th Avenues South. Now known as the South Service Center, this site contains a number of additional buildings, including a 1937 receiving substation along 4th Avenue South and a 1952 rectifier substation at the northwest corner. Electrical equipment fills large portions of the fenced site, which covers several city blocks. The rectangular plan of the original building measured 225 feet by 360 feet with a wing extending from the south elevation, which measured 77 feet by 41 feet. While this basic footprint remains mostly intact, the subsequent alterations and additions have substantially altered the original appearance of the Vernacular Industrial building embellished with Mission Revival and Neo-Classical Revival stylistic features. The most significant alteration is the loss of its rows of multi-paned industrial steel sash windows set between piers, which lined each elevation. The wing off the south elevation retains the only evidence of the original design. On this elevation, the taller center bay containing the craneway extends beyond the southern end walls, creating a separate wing along with the two additional bays off its east elevation. These bays on the east are slightly narrower than the bay containing the craneway. On the east and west elevations of the wing, narrow piers separate the facade into two bays. Incised decorative details remain in the wide band, which wraps the upper portion of the wing. However, the original stepped parapet has been removed, and there have been significant alterations to the window openings. A later two-story addition extends from the east elevation of the wing along the south elevation of the main warehouse block. This addition has a recessed loading dock at the first story below offices at the second story and a canopy, which extends off the south elevation. The one-story warehouse block along the eastern side of the center craneway has an open canopied loading dock running nearly the full length of the east elevation. The northern end of this block has been converted to a two-story office block. This portion has been remodeled with a new exterior to match the recently built South Service Center at the northeast corner of the site. The smaller one-story shops block along the western side of the center craneway retains much of its original form and massing as well as the rhythm of the bays. A row of sawtooth penthouses still lines the length of the rooftop. However, a plain concrete exterior has covered the original cladding of this block and the adjacent craneway, and the original windows have been replaced. The three-story craneway down the center still encloses a one-story volume of space. Multi-paned steel sash windows line the upper wall of its west elevation, and its roof supports two distinctive "CITY LIGHT" signs in neon, facing east and west. Although important for its history in terms of the development of Seattle City Light, this building retains little physical integrity.

Detail for 3613 4th AVE / Parcel ID 7666205660 / Inv # SCL019

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Ceramic tile, Metal, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Government - Public Works Plan: Rectangular
Structural System: Concrete - Poured No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture, Conservation, Politics/Government/Law, Transportation
Changes to Plan: Extensive
Changes to Original Cladding: Extensive
Changes to Windows: Extensive
Major Bibliographic References
King County Property Record Card (c. 1938-1972), Washington State Archives.
Seattle Department of Lighting. Annual report / City of Seattle, Department of Lighting. Seattle, WA: 1910-1974.

Photo collection for 3613 4th AVE / Parcel ID 7666205660 / Inv # SCL019

Photo taken Oct 22, 2000
App v2.0.1.0