At 100 Indiana Avenue, NW is the headquarters of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the union for urban mail carriers. The facade consists of white granite or marble blocks in a uniform pattern. There is simple but elegant gilded lettering above the entrance which relates to the brassy coloring of the doors and light fixtures. Besides these details and a thin band above the second floor there is practically no other ornamentation.
The design of the building is trying to remain formal and classic yet look toward a modern aesthetic. It was designed in 1952 by Washington DC-based architect Arthur L. Anderson. Anderson’s work is increasingly under threat and a formalist bank branch that he designed in Rockville is being demolished despite a recent recommendation for preservation.
St. Alphonsus is located in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood at the corner of 15th Avenue and 58th Street. Built in 1962, it replaced the previous church, rectory and convent. Among its mid-century features are the well-proportioned entrance canopy on tapered legs, striking bell tower and interior details. The church was built in 1962.
The entire religious complex was designed by the firm of Johnston-Campanella, who were prolific designers of Catholic churches and related buildings, as well as churches for other denominations, public schools, libraries, and even an airport control tower.
Pictures of the low-rise rectory. There is also a school, convent and family center as part of the complex.
The Ballard Post Office was built in 1961 and sits within a residential neighborhood on 17th Avenue. As can be seen in the background, new housing is coming to Ballard at a rapid pace, especially larger new condo buildings on Market Street. It seems likely that this mid-century post office will be demolished for denser development in the near future.
The building retains its original facade finishes of brick with enamel panels and plate glass. A flat entrance portico on thin piers runs along the front facade.
Near Seattle Center is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which seems in little danger of demolition, compared with some of our previous entries. The church is well maintained and the active congregation seem to embrace its mid-century structure, while making necessary alterations and additions so that it continues to be viable for the future. A renovation, restoration and addition to the church was completed in 2011 and subsequently won an award from the local AIA. Many pictures of the completed project are available here.
The church was designed by the firm of Steinhart and Thierault, who also did the Swedish Cultural Center two years earlier. St. Paul’s was contemporaneous with the Seattle World’s Fair and located just a block from Seattle Center, where the fair took place. The swooping roof presents a dramatic profile and the steep front facade is clad in copper, diamond-shaped shingles.
Here are two modern buildings in Seattle with very different facade treatments. They are located on 1st Avenue N, just off Denny Way, in an area seeing some new larger development.
117 is now a CPA office and dates from 1947. It is a wonderfully simple and elegant building with a left side of horizontal brick stacks interspersed with thin, vertical windows. The right side is recessed with vertical glass windows in metal framing. The sides and base of the building feature a band of white marble or limestone, a great finishing touch.
Next door, 113 is now an H&R Block and dates from the mid-60s or 70s, depending on conflicting building records. It definitely has a 70s vibe with the tinted glass and arched window bays.
Although not immediately threatened, the Swedish Cultural Center is in the Queen Anne neighborhood, an area that is also seeing new growth including many new apartment buildings. Still the organization has been wonderful stewards to their 1960-61 building and is currently raising funds to replace the roof.
The building seems largely unaltered and retains many of its original finishes on both the interior and exterior. Outside we see the fantastic metal screen that surrounds the building, the entrance canopy, and small details such as the entrance door handles. The club’s photo gallery features some interior shots.
The architects of the building were Steinhart, Theriault and Anderson, who designed many notable buildings across the region. Their office building is extant at 1264 Eastlake Avenue E and still an arresting presence with its dramatic cantilever. The Swedish Cultural Center, while not as dramatic, does sit on a steeply sloping hillside along Dexter Avenue to take advantage of the surrounding views.