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A showcase design may become a Seattle Landmark

On an irregular shaped lot that once was home to billboards at the corner of Galer St. and Eastlake Ave. is a building that may soon become a Seattle landmark.

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board has accepted the nomination of the Steinhart Therriault & Anderson Office building at 1264 Eastlake Ave. E. and will review it on May 4. If nominated, the Board will then consider the property’s designation on June 15. If awarded landmark status, the building will become Eastlake’s seventh landmarked structure.

Former Eastlake resident, architect, and historic preservationist, Susan Boyle, wrote the comprehensive 27-page landmark nomination document on behalf of DocomomoWeWa, with the help of architect Andy Phillips and Eugenia Woo of Historic Seattle.

The building, near the intersection of Fairview and Eastlake Avenues and on the corner of Galer Street, is in a decidedly prominent location. During the 1920s and 1930s, the site had been used for billboards when Eastlake Ave. was one of the major north/south roadways through Seattle, long before I-5. The architecture firm of Steinhart Therriault & Anderson took the wedge-shaped piece of land and designed and built their studio there in 1956, showcasing the new modern design. The largely glass building influenced by an Asian aesthetic stood out amidst a backdrop of turn of the 20th century wood frame apartments and houses of Victorian, Colonial, and Craftsman styles.

It was definitely a building that people noticed. Ask any long-term Seattleite. (My neighbor, a retired judge recently wrote to me about it in an email, “I remember driving with my family past the building when I was about 12 and being greatly moved by the beauty of the building. In fact, I thought several times of trying to buy the building and moving my law office there. Wouldn’t that have been fun?”)

While it’s no longer quite as prominent on the streetscape as it once was, overshadowed by larger, newer buildings now, sort of like the Space Needle is by the skyscrapers downtown — but like the Space Needle — the building at the corner of Galer and Eastlake anchors a spirit of the time when Eastlake was fertile ground for architectural firms and the growing movement of Northwest Modernism.

While there’s no sign on it, the existence of this building is a kind of billboard for that history of Eastlake.

Eastlakers are encouraged to email or send letters of support for the nomination to the Landmarks Preservation Board. As noted by Historic Seattle, people should send comments “by 12PM on Tuesday, April 26 to Erin Doherty, Landmarks Preservation Board Coordinator, at erin.doherty@seattle.gov, and/or attend the virtual WebEx meeting on Wednesday, May 4 at 3:30PM to provide public, verbal comments. The agenda will be issued about one week before the meeting.

Drawing by Karen Berry

Written by Judy Smith

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