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Summary for 420 Wall ST / Parcel ID 0696000290 / Inv #

Historic Name: Devonshire Apartments Common Name: Devonshire Apartments
Style: Tudor Neighborhood: Belltown
Built By: Year Built: 1925
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Ordinance.
The Devonshire and its neighbor, the Davenport, are two of the most distinctive of the numerous apartment buildings constructed in Belltown between the two world wars. The Devonshire was designed by prominent architect Herbert Bittman in 1925. He owned and developed both buildings originally, but sold the Devonshire in 1926 to R. H. Parsons. Its design is particularly distinctive for the courtyard entrance to the garage. While garages were common in many Seattle apartment buildings of the 1920s, they were rare in Belltown, and this integration of the garage entry into the façade is very unusual. The Devonshire is of mill construction and originally incorporated a sprinkler system for fire protection and central refrigeration so that apartment tenants would not have to rely on ice boxes and ice delivery. It had 62 apartments, primarily efficiency units. Heavy development occurred in Belltown in the 1920s to provide housing for the city’s booming population. In only twenty years, Seattle’s population had exploded from 80,671 (1900) to 315,312 (1920). After the regrading of Denny Hill between 1898 and 1911 opened this area up for development, developers soon constructed apartment buildings to meet the acute housing need. These buildings provided modest but comfortable accommodations that were affordable for the sales clerks, clerical staff and other workers in downtown businesses. They remain a very important part of the historic character of Belltown. Henry Bittman (1882-1953) studied engineering at Cooper Union in New York and worked briefly as a bridge engineer in Chicago before arriving in Seattle in 1906. He practiced for a year with architect William Kingsley, and then opened his own practice designing structural steel skeletons for the large buildings that were beginning to appear. He became a licensed architect in 1923, beginning with several apartment commissions, including the Davenport (1924), the Devonshire (1925), the Windham (1925) and the Stockbridge (1925). However, he primarily designed larger buildings such as the Terminal Sales Building (1923) and the United Shopping Tower (now the Olympic Tower, 1928-31). He is best known for his sumptuous use of terra cotta ornament, as seen in the Eagles Temple (now ACT Theater, 1925), the Music Box Theater (1928, demolished), and the Embassy Theater/Mann Building (1926). Toward the end of his long career he turned to the Streamlined Moderne and International styles, evidenced by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Building (now Group Health, 1947).
This building is of mill construction faced with red brick. It has a U-shaped plan with three stories above a daylight basement. The garage entrance is in the center of the courtyard, with stairs rising on each side to an upper level court leading to the entry. The extensive cast stone trim includes very ornate Tudor-inspired surrounds on the top floor windows on the side wide belt courses below the first story and above the third story. An over-sized shield ornaments the center bay on each side of the main (west) façade. The side bays are topped with smaller shield medallions flanked by tall terra cotta finials that rise about a foot above the parapet. Windows in the center bay on the main elevations are one-over-one double hung sash, with large three-part windows in the side bays; all have their original wood sash.

Detail for 420 Wall ST / Parcel ID 0696000290 / Inv #

Status: Yes - Inventory
Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Domestic - Multiple Family Plan: U-Shape
Structural System: Balloon Frame/Platform Frame No. of Stories: three
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Intact
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
King County Tax Assessor Records, ca. 1932-1972.
City of Seattle, Department of Planning and Development, Microfilm Records.

Photo collection for 420 Wall ST / Parcel ID 0696000290 / Inv #

Photo taken Mar 18, 2007

Photo taken Mar 18, 2007
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