Fire Station #2, Seattle

Fire station #2, Seattle

Fire station #2, Seattle

This is the fire station that is two blocks from my apartment. Located at 4th and Battery, it is the oldest active fire station in Seattle, and the busiest, as it is the closest to downtown and Seattle Center. Until May of this year, it held the emergency response teams and the phone lines for the fire department. These operations have now been moved to another station that is earthquake compliant and which contains the backup phone system in the same station, something the Belltown station didn’t have.

Although I couldn’t find the information on when the current station was built, the best guess is 1921. I got Old fire station #2, 1906-1921this from an old photo on the page. It shows a fire house that was occupied from 1906 to 1921. And by the way, when will they figure out that “right click disabled” doesn’t work in Firefox?

Much of the credit for Seattle becoming a city belongs to the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. Until that time, Seattle didn’t have a professional fire department. Although the fire department itself was chartered in 1883, the charter provided for purchases of equipment, but not the hiring of firefighters.

The fire, which occurred on June 6, 1889, was started accidentally by the overturning of a gluepot in a cabinetmakers shop. The fire consumed 29 square blocks of the business district, and became the impetus for much rebuilding. It was also the impetus for the formulation of a building code that kept the city from burning to the ground again three years later.

Fire station # 2

Fire station # 2

Nowadays, as well as putting out the infrequent fires in a modern city, the firefighters are also on the forefront of the EMS system. And we are indeed glad to see them when they come to us after we’ve fallen from our bike and dislocated our shoulder.

And here’s a much better picture of the fire station by Joe Mabel that I found on WikiMedia Commons. Maybe I should just stay home with my camera.


The Seaboard Building

Entrance to Seaboard BuildingI chose this building to blog mostly because it has the same architect as the Eitel Building. I guess you could call this one “when good buildings go condo.”

I had hoped to have some history of the building, but there is little online, except for the notes in the Eitel Building post that they have the same architect.  Most of the information online is about the recent conversion to condos. I did find this picture from 1916 of the building.

According to, the building finished construction in 1910. I think it was used as offices for most of its lifetime. I did find one mention that a Swedish newspaper was housed there in the 1930’s.

The Seattle Times has a story here about one of the condos in the conversion. I guess most of them have decorations on building14’4″ ceilings. I’m glad I don’t live there. Heat rises, folks, and I worry about heating in the winter. But I guess these people can

probably afford the heating.

If you want to see the whole building, there are

 tree on building

pictures referenced above. Me, I just like to look at parts of buildings. For instance, I really like the decorations on building that are of this age. I think they are a lot more interesting than the concrete and glass boxes we have for architecture today. And I don’t think a lot of them will be around 100 years from now.  One of the interesting things about the picture to the left is the tree growing out of the top of the building. I assume this is the penthouse, and has a nice yard. I wish my building had a nice yard on top. But it doesn’t.

Seaboard buildingwindows of condos

I guess I still resent the fact that a lot of historic building are being renovated into condos, and upscale condos at that. I suppose if you are going to renovate a building that is historic, you have to do that to get your money out of the project. I just wish there was a way to do the renovations and still serve the ordinary people, and the low income people.

corner of building

The Eitel Building

The first building I’m going to put on this blog is the Eitel Building at Second and Pike. According to the Historic Seattle, this building was built in 1904 as a medical office building with a pharmacy on the ground floor. It’s seen some rough times since then, and is apparently doomed by the gentrification of Second Avenue, as well as new “Up, not Out” growth policies. Currently they are in the application process to build a 22 story building, incorporating parts of the first six floors. We can expect the building to be upscale because the 1521 building next door, which is nearing completion, has residences starting at $1million. Not far away, at Fourth and Virginia, Escala is building another luxury tower, with units ranging from $500,000 to $5million, with penthouse and sub-penthouse units going for even more. The Olive 8 complex with the Hyatt Hotel has units going from $500,000 to $2million. My question is, who is going to buy all these condos? I think a lot of the developers have a “field of dreams” business plan, if they build them, they will come. However, Seattle has an affordable housing crisis. I guess with the median price for homes in Seattle now $440,000, a half a million doesn’t sound so bad. And there are condos available downtown for around $150,000. Of course, they are 295 sq. ft. You have to leave the apartment to change your mind. Enough carping, on to the Eitel Building.

As has been said above, the building was built in 1904 as a medical building. It was bEitel Buildinguilt by brothers Fred and David Eitel, with William Doty Van Siclen as architect. The cost at the time was $75,000. Another floor was added in 1906, for another $18,000. It has apparently been vacant except for the ground floor since 1978.

The first thing that caught my eye was the fire escapes. They seem to have a unique design, and were probably very attractive when the building first went up. With a little contrasting paint, I think they could be attractive again. I love the arched windows, and what I think of as keystonesFire Escapes along the sides of the building.

The upper part of the building is vacant, and the only things left in the building are a nail salon, and a teriyaki bar I wouldn’t eat at if I were starving, a smoke shop, wig shop, and the health department’s needle exchange program. From what I understand, the facade of the building has been changed, and Preservation Seattle considered it “borderline” in 2003. In fact, the tile work on the retail facade screams Tile on Facade“Art Deco” to me.

Second Avenue in Seattle has been called the land of terra cotta, and indeed, the Eitel is embellished with it. There are ridges of it running around the building, and different friezes here and there. There are embellishments around the windows, and at the corners of the building. The columns on the ground floor have been painted on the Pike St. side.

The main entrance to the building, on the Second Ave. side, has been fenced off, probably due to the nearness of the needle exchange facility. The entrance has an arched doorway, with columns on either side. The floor of the Entrance to Buildingentrance is a mosaic in a green and white pattern. I would love to see this pattern restored to all it’s beauty.

The building, and indeed the area, definitely have problems. Even though a block away, tourist cavort in the Pike Place Market, the corner is known to be gang territory. The presence of the needle exchange program probably exacerbates that. I am sure, however, when folks start moving into their $1million high-rises, they are going to demand some law and order. Entrance Mosaic Pattern

It would indeed be sad to see this Grande Dame pass totally into non-existence. I guess reusing part of the building is better than totally demolishing it.