AKA: Seattle Lighting Company, Coal-Gas Conversion Works, Brown's Point, Seattle, WA; Seattle Gas Company, Gas Factory, Wallingford. Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - industrial buildings - power plants

Designers: Haag, Richard, Associates, Incorporated, Site Planners, Landscape Architects (firm); Richard Haag (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907

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This plant was provided significant amounts of gas for the City of Seattle from 1907 until 1956; after considerable soil rehabilitation due to hydrocarbon contamination, the site, with some of its industrial equipment remaining, was transformed into a public park between 1971-1988. The Seattle Gas Light Company gradually purchased parcels on Lake Union near what was known as Brown's Point, between 1900-1905. This entity was the largest private utility operating in Seattle at the time, and was later known as the "Seattle Lighting Company," (from c. 1906-1930) and, subsequently, as the "Seattle Gas Company" (from 1930-1956). Initially, the Seattle Lighting Company used the plant to convert coal to gas for lighting; the product later found use for heating, refrigeration and cooking purposes. Seattle Lighting maintained a coke oven at the plant to transform coal into its constituent parts, water, coal-gas, and coal-tar (as well as ash and carbon residue.) By 1937, this process was no longer commercially viable, and the coke oven and related coal-to-gas machinery were removed. Two oil-to-gas conversion mechanisms were installed in 1937, and two more ten years later. An Exhauster/Compressor Building was erected in 1937 to shelter the new oil-gas equipment. Additional machinery was also installed in 1946-1947 to produce charcoal briquettes from residue produced during the oil-to-gas conversion process. This property languished after the Seattle Gas Company closed the Brown's Point facility in 1956; in 1962, it sold the plant to the City of Seattle. The City hoped to locate a park on the 19-acre property, just as was envisioned by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm when it created its Seattle Parks Plan of 1903.

Significant removals, additions and remodeling occurred at the plant in 1936-1937 and 1946-1947.

Partially demolished beginning in 1971; landscape architect Richard Haag (b. 1923) spearheaded the unconventional effort to turn the former Gas Works into a public park; at the time, public opinion over the effort was mixed, but has come to be viewed as an innovative and important work of landscape architecture.

PCAD id: 3312