AKA: Skinner Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Reamer, Robert C., Architect (firm); Unico Properties, LLC (firm); Robert Chambers Reamer (architect)

Dates: constructed 1926-1927

8 stories, total floor area: 321,945 sq. ft.

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1308 5th Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101-2602

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Alternate address 1526 5th Avenue.

William Edris (1893-1969), President of the Fifth Avenue Building Company, announced on 09/17/1925 that work on a new $1.5 million office-retail-theatre complex would begin within 30 days. On 10/25/1925, the Seattle Times reported that excavation for what would be called the "Skinner Building" was nearing completion. As was typical of buildings in the Metropolitan Tract, this eight-story mixed use block was named for one of its investors, in this case, David E. Skinner (1867-1933), a Metropolitan Building Company Director and owner of the Skinner and Eddy Shipyard, the Pacific Steamship Company, and the Port Blakely Mill Company. Edris's consortium obtained a ground lease on a 120 x 355-foot site, from the Metropolitan Building Company, the real estate concern owned by the University of Washington. Design of the Skinner Block would "...conform to the general style of the Metropolitan group." (See "Skinner Building Excavation Pushed," Seattle Daily Times, 10/25/1925.) The Metropolitan Building Company began its building efforts c. 1910, with the construction of the Cobb Building (1909-1910), Metropolitan Theatre (1910-1911) and the White-Stuart-Henry Building (1909-1922). The Skinner Building was the last large building project in the Metropolitan Tract before the Depression; composed of a steel and reinforced concrete frame, it had 350 feet of street frontage on 5th Avenue and 120 feet on both Union Street and University Street. Its exterior was covered in a costly stone veneer.

The Skinner Building included the 5th Avenue Theatre, storefronts and offices, serving as an early multi-use building in Seattle, WA; Reamer's Skinner Building won a Seattle Highest Honor Award, Washington State Chapter, American Institute of Architects, for "Mercantile Buildings" in 1928; the 8-story Skinner Building contained 321,945 gross square feet, 102,517 net, in 2010 (as per the King County Assessor). In 1950, the net square footage of the building was listed as being 145,329 square feet. Retail space stood at 43,856 square feet and office space, 79,556, with a basement containing 21,917 additional square feet. California-based luxury retailer, I. Magnin and Company, operated its Seattle store at the corner of Union Street and 5th Avenue in the Skinner Building from 1926-1954. In 1943, the Christian Science Monitor newspaper maintained an advertising office in Room #824 in the Skinner Building.

Following the Nisqually Earthquake of 2001, the Skinner Building underwent an $11-million renovation, to improve its seismic resilience.