AKA: Penney, J.C., Company, Incorporated, Department Store, Downtown, Seattle, WA; Penney, J.C., Department Store, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - department stores

Designers: Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); John Graham Sr. (architect/engineer)

Dates: constructed 1929-1930, demolished 1989

2nd Avenue and Pike Street
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101

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Built on the site of the Bon Marche Department Store #2, on the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Pike Street; the J.C. Penney Department store chain operated this outlet from 1930-1982. Its closure in the early '80s precipitated the decline of this portion of Downtown Seattle. One merchant in this area, Joe Fuss, of Joe's Bargain Mart, stated in 1986: "Over the years [since 1950] I've seen the area [shopping area near Pike Place Market] change drastically--from blue collar to wino. Penney's closing at Second and Pike has made the biggest difference." (See "Closing of TJ's Signals the End of a Downtown Era,"Accessed 01/12/2008.) According to a former Penney's administrator quoted in the Seattle Times, this store closed because of the antiquated nature of the facility: " 'The building was a conglomerate of three other stores, an old building that was hard to maintain," says J. Lynn Dunkley, retired JCPenney district manager. '(And) we were no longer in the retail core.'" The core had moved a few blocks north and east, to the vicinity of 5th/6th Avenues and Pine Street, where the Frederick and Nelson and Nordstrom Department Stores operated. (SeeAccessed 08/16/2010.)

One author, Clark Humphrey, indicated that this location on the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and Pike Street was the J.C. Penney Company, Incorporated, department store chain's best selling branch. See Clark Humphrey, Vanishing Seattle, (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 2006), p. 15. Humphrey noted that James Cash Penney himself would visit the store, sometimes with his friend, Joshua Green, who owned a large office/retail building a block away on 4th Avenue. In 1983, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) received the parcel on which the Penney's Department Store stood as a donation; SAM decided that it was not a suitable site on which to build a larger museum, (it was seeking to expand beyond its Volunteer Park location) and sold it to the developers of the Newmark Condominium Tower. Eventually, SAM built on land at 1300 1st Avenue.

Demolished in 1989 to make room for the Newmark Mall and Condominium Tower. Just after the demolition, architectural historian Lawrence Kreisman wrote in 1990 in the Seattle Times: "John Graham Sr. designed the Fraser-Patteson Department Store (later J.C. Penney) in 1930 with the natural wonders of the Northwest in mind. The facade expresses vertically the ground cover, streams and rivers; a horizontal frieze suggests the shores of Puget Sound and the evergreen forests; crowning the tops of pilasters and the parapet of the building are eagles with outspread wings. Sadly, this evocative and original depiction of the Northwest - and, in fact, the entire building - was recently demolished." (See Lawrence Kreisman, "Northwest Living Nature In Architecture -- Seattle Buildings Wear Waves Of Creature Profiles," Seattle Times, 01/14/1990,Accessed 02/01/2011)

PCAD id: 6237