Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores; built works - industrial buildings - warehouses

Designers: Stuart and Wheatley, Architects (firm); Warrack, J.B., Construction Company (firm); Bertram Dudley Stuart Jr. (architect); J. B. Warrack (building contractor); Arthur Wheatley (architect)

Dates: constructed 1925-1926, demolished 2012

2 stories

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1111 East Pine Street
Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA 98122

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Overview

The Exeter Investment Company commissioned architects F. Dudley Stuart and Arthur Wheatley to design a two-story, brick, commercial building at 1107 Pine Street to replace an earlier, three-story structure on the site, the Winton Company Building #2, destroyed by fire on 10/31/1925. F.J. McCurdy served as the President of the Exeter Investment Company at this time, a firm that specialized in real estate transactions, mortgages and other investments, according to the 1926 Seattle City Directory (p. 565).

Building History

The Exeter Investment Company either owned or purchased the burned-out shell of the Winton Building in 1926, and erected this building for the Sunset Electric Company, an electronics retailer owned by George Grant and Gordon S. Prentice and founded in 1912. (See "Important Extensions Made by Automobile Electrical Concern for Better Service," Seattle Times, 02/04/1917, p. 55.) Gordon's brother, Rodney, also operated a branch store in Portland, OR, opened in mid-1919. (Business was so good in Portland that a second, larger store was needed by 11/1919. See "Gordon Prentice, president of Sunset Electric Company, who is back after opening Portland branch," Seattle Times, 11/23/1919, Third News Section, p. 9.) Sunset, in 1917, was a leading seller of auto batteries and carburetors, one reason that they sought out a location in Seattle's "Auto Row" in the vicinity of Pine and Pike Streets near 11th Avenue. From 1918- 1926, Sunset Electric operated its second Seattle location at 1507-1511 Broadway. (See "Sunset Electric Co. To Move to Broadway," Seattle Times, 12/29/1918, Third News Section, p. 2), Prior to this, it opened it first location at 606 East Pike Street. (See Seattle City Directory 1916, p. 1481.) Sunset Electric, sold more than just auto parts, By 1916, it got into selling radios, radio tubes and other electronic items, becoming a leading regional retailer for the prestigious Atwater Kent radio brand. (During the mid-1920s, Sunset Electric became a prominent advertiser on KFOA radio, locally sponsoring concerts promoted by Atwater Kent.)

Outgrowing its Broadway location, Sunset Electric agreed to a ten-year, $84,000 lease on a new location at 11th Avenue and Pine Street on 01/09/1926. The Seattle Times reported: "On this site will be erected one of the most modern electrical service plants of the Northwest. The building will be one story and basement with 120-foot frontage on Pine Street and 120-foot frontage on 11th Avenue, will have a saw-tooth roof and be especially designed to house the increasing business of the Sunset Electric Company. Numerous windows, convenient driveways from the street and many new features will be contained in this building. The cost of the building will be approximately $60,000. The former building on this corner was recently destroyed by fire. The owner, Mrs. William Anna Loring, was represented in the lease negotiations by the Exeter Investment Company." (See "Electric Service Plant for Pine St.," Seattle Times, 01/10/1926, p. 28.) A later Times article indicated that the new building would be completed by about May 1. (See "Atwater Kent Hour New KFOA Feature," Seattle Times, 01/21/1926, p. 15.)

The City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Historical Sites database described Sunset's new building: "The original plans entitle this a “commercial building,” but it was evidently built for the Sunset Electric Company. Their logo in terra cotta was installed on the south façade. Early building plans note a “radio display room” at the corner with an adjacent “radio repair room.” The rest of the building had spaces for sales and parts, servicing and delivery vehicles. The corner space was an appliance showroom, with other sections used for offices, electrical repairs and sales/parts storage. Sunset Electric remained here until about 1938, by which time they sold a wide variety of home appliances and radios as well as automotive electric equipment and accessories and service." (See City of Seattle, Department of Neighborhoods, Seattle Historical Sites Summary for 1530 11TH Ave / Parcel ID 600350-0305, accessed 12/08/2015.)

Following the departure of Sunset Electric in 1938, Colyear Motor Sales, which operated its automobile parts business across the street, utilized the space for storage and retail purposes. Colyear occupied it into the 1950s, when the Spray Craft Auto Painting Company, an auto repair and painting concern, leased the space. It remained here until the 1970s. The space fell into disuse by the 2000s, and was vacant by 2011.

Building Notes

The Sunset Electric Company Building #3 had a vaguely Jacobethan Revival character, suggested by its brick exterior and parapet trimmed with multiple moldings. Like a Jacobethan building the elaborately molded parapet's light color contrasted with that of the darker brick. The 11th Avenue facade contained five bays, including a smaller entry section, while the Pine Street facade contained three equal bays and a large entryway highlighted by a Jacobethan gabled parapet. Underneath the gabled parapet, the architects hung an esctcheon bearing the letters "S" and "E" with the word "Co." in the center for the original tenant.