The Seattle Labor Temple in the Belltown neighborhood is an early modern structure, accommodating numerous functions for union organizing including office space, an auditorium, and meeting rooms. This area of Belltown has several union-affiliated structures including some that will be highlighted here later. The labor council seems to be a good steward to the building and it is highly intact on both interior and exterior. The building was noted on a list in 2011 as a potential landmark but it’s unclear if the city ever moved forward on designation.
It was built in 1942 to designs of McClelland & Jones. The firm dissolved later that decade and both went on to have other fruitful partnerships. Harmon, Pray & Detrich, another locally prominent firm, added a third story to part of the complex in 1955, as the need for space grew. The minimal detailing is similar and the variation in brick color between the floors is not immediately apparent.
The design of the complex is understated with brick cladding in warm tones of red, orange and yellow. The pale green panels and trim around the windows and entrance are actually terra cotta, noted in several sources as an unusually late application in Seattle. The blade sign on one corner dates to the 1950s.
Today’s entry is the Olympia Branch of the Seattle First National Bank from 1959 and located at 210 5th Street W; earlier this week we covered a similar branch in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. The architects were McClelland & Osterman, a Seattle-based firm.
This building is one of many in a well-researched self-guided walking tour on Olympia mid-century architecture. According to the guide:
“This bank building is one of several similar structures built across the state by Seattle First National Bank in the 1950s. The design was initially developed by Seattle architect John Maloney. The Seattle architectural firm of McClelland & Osterman then adapted Maloney’s design to conditions in Olympia. The New Formalist style building has an exterior of Roman brick, skinnier and longer than normal bricks. The building also features a curtain wall of multi-pane windows set in a slightly projecting rectangular concrete bay window and a curved cast stone entry portal. Inside the main entry is a mosaic tile mural depicting the legislative building on the Capitol Campus.”
This bank at 2010 Market Street NW in Ballard dates from 1951. The bank represents a typology from the late 1940s and early 1950s when classical design was morphing into a more modern appearance. Banks, especially in urban areas, sometimes exhibit this New Formalist style. Unfortunately the awnings detract from the overall simplicity of the design, but otherwise it remains relatively unaltered.
The architect of the Ballard Branch is most likely John W. Maloney, given the building’s extreme resemblance to Maloney’s landmark Denny Way Branch from a year earlier.
On a side street across from the Swedish Medical Center is this wonderfully intact Wrightian building medical office from 1955. Its flat roof planes, strong horizontality, recessed entrance and materials of brick and stone all speak in a Frank Lloyd Wright-design vocabulary. I was not able to identify the architect and hope someone out there might know? As it is currently for sale and situated just off the main thoroughfare in Ballard, I hope it finds a sympathetic owner who appreciates the uniqueness of the structure.
Carter Volkswagon has been owned by the same family since its founding in 1960 and I assume that this building dates from approximately that time. It’s an intact auto showroom and dealership clad in buff brick with original show windows (small by today’s standards) on the corner and a nice entrance overhang.
There is also an office section in the middle. The final section includes the show lot and repair bays entered through a double-height, flat-roofed canopy.
On Constitution Avenue, the Frances Perkins Department of Labor Building rises up, built over Interstate 395. It was started in the mid-60s under John F. Kennedy to consolidate labor department staff into one building, but it was not completed until 1975. It is a slightly bland, symmetrical corporate office building of limestone and steel, built up to accommodate the highway tunnel underneath. The architects were two prominent Texas firms working together, Brooks, Barr, Graeber and White of Austin and Pitts, Mebane, Phelps and White of Houston.
Great 70s style lamps.
View from Constitution Avenue and 3rd Street, NW showing the elevation and one of the entrance ramps.
This building from 1967 serves as part of Williamsburg, VA’s civic center. It currently houses the city council offices. The style of a brick box with classical limestone trim and a central columned entrance is more akin to a 1950s municipal building, showing the slow pace of modern architecture in this bastion of Colonial and Colonial Revival design. The building will soon be replaced with a contemporary structure after a lengthy public evaluation.