AKA: A, T & T, Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company, Office Building #2, Seattle, WA; US West, 1200 3rd Avenue, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Bebb and Gould, Architects (firm); Weinstein Architects + Urban Designers LLC (firm); Matthew Aalfs (architect); Charles Herbert Bebb ; Carl Freylinghausen Gould Sr. (architect); Edward Weinstein (architect)

Dates: constructed 1921

13 stories, total floor area: 189,175 sq. ft.

view all images ( of 3 shown)

1200 3rd Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101-3053

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map

Pacific Telephone commissioned the firm of Bebb and Gould, formed in 1914, to design the skyscraper. Within the Bebb and Gould firm, Carl Gould, Sr., (1873-1939) served as the principal designer. He created a stretched Italian Renaissance palazzo, notable for the very fine, terra-cotta classical detailing of its first floor exterior. Six arched bays illuminated retail spaces on the main 3rd Avenue facade, each demonstrating unusually elaborate rustication, voussiors and scrolled keystones. The fineness of this first floor detailing clearly reflected Gould's intensive draftsmanship training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris between 1898-1903. Upper floors were clad in less expensive brick set in Flemish bond. Satisfied with the firm's work, Pacific Telephone would go on to commission at least five other buildings by Bebb and Gould, including offices and exchanges in Tacoma, WA, Olympia, WA, Longview, WA, Yakima, WA, and Centralia, WA. A,T, and T created the "Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone Company" on 07/01/1961, a separate entity from the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. Between 1974-1982, a long anti-trust case initiated by the US Department of Justice finally culminated in the American Telephone and Telegraph Company's (A, T, and T) divestiture of its local telecommunications holdings to form 7 regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs), the so-called "Baby Bells." (A,T, and T bargained with the government offering to give up the RBOCs if it would be allowed to initiate activity as a computer company, forming "AT&T Computer Systems." A,T, and T also continued to offer long-distance services.) Following the official breakup on 01/01/1984, one of the Baby Bells, a holding company known as the "U S WEST Communications Group," operated three main local carriers: Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph of Denver, CO, Northwestern Bell of Omaha, NB, and Pacific Northwest Bell in Seattle. It legally changed its name to "U S WEST Communications, Incorporated," on 01/01/1991, and, on 06/31/2000, merged with Qwest Communications International, Incorporated, to form "Qwest Corporation Consolidated" (legally incorporated on 07/06/2000). US West used 1200 3rd Avenue as a telecommunications center. Just before US West's takeover, on 09/24/1999, the company sold this property to Seattle Telecom LLC, for $33,805,000. Another legal entity, Seattle Telecom Properties LLC, sold the Bebb and Gould tower to Expeditors International of Washington, Incorporated, for $21 million on 03/29/2005.

This $2 million office building at 1200 3rd Avenue was built for the San Francisco-based Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1920-1921. Pacific Telephone and Telegraph was a subsidiary of the early holding company, the American Bell Telephone Company (created in 1877); the name of this main holding company changed to the "American Telephone and Telegraph Company" (A,T, and T) in 1899. Another subsidiary of A,T, and T, the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company, formed in the early 1880s, was the prime telephone utility operating in Seattle, WA. In the 1880s, Sunset had competitors in the Seattle Automatic Telephone Exchange and the Independent Telephone Company. A,T, and T replaced the Sunset name on the Pacific Coast with that of Pacific Telephone and Telegraph as the main provider of local and long distance service by about 1910. Pacific Telephone gradually absorbed its Seattle competitors, the last major acquisition being the Independent Telephone Company in 1913. Paralleling Seattle's rapid population growth after the Klondike Gold Rush, Pacific Telephone undertook rapid expansion of its Pacific Northwest facilities. Needing more room for its northwest regional headquarters, the company decided to build an impressive "signature" high-rise, and it purchased land on 3rd Avenue and Seneca Street in 07/1919. (Prior to 1200 3rd Avenue's erection, the company had its business offices in the Cobb Building [1915] and the Henry Building [1919].) Comprised of a reinforced concrete skeleton, the new headquarters was largely complete by 10/23/1921, save for the installation of its complex mechanical equipment. (See "Seattle Building Program Downtown Four Millions; Major Projects Underway or Completed Show Uptrend," Seattle Sunday Times, 10/23/1921, p. 18.) In 2012, Seattle City records indicated the property's name to have been "Seattle Telecom 1200 3rd Avenue." At that time, the King County Assessor valued the building and its land to be worth $24,008,000, of which the site had a value of $7,992.000. The building contained 189,175 square feet, 149,385 net. Countrywide Home Loans leased first-floor retail space in the tower in 2008.

Three floors were added to the 10-story Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Building in 1925-1926, bringing the total to 13, and making the building 230 feet high. Remodeling to storefronts required building permits in 2000 and 2009. Weinstein A|U Architects + Urban Designers LLC, participated in renovation work of the 1200 3rd Avenue Office Building.