AKA: Medical Arts Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Moore Investment Company (firm); Saunders and Lawton, Architects (firm); George Willis Lawton (architect); James A. Moore (developer); Charles Willard Saunders (architect)

Dates: constructed 1902-1903, demolished 1990

6 stories

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1119 2nd Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101

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Located on the southwestern corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street.


The Seattle architectural tandem of Saunders and Laughton designed the cubic Lumber Exchange Building for the active real estate developer James Moore, who would later build the Moore Hotel and Theatre Block (1907). The Lumber Exchange, an elegant modern adaptation of a Italian Renaissance palazzo, stood for 87 years before being torn down in 1990 and replaced by the highrise Second and Seneca Building (1991).

Building History

Seattle developer James A. Moore (1861-1929) erected this office building as an investment to provide offices for the burgeoning lumber industry in Washington State. In 1907, an article in the publication, The Commercial West, said of the Lumber Exchange Building: ""The Lumber Exchange building was erected in 1902 by the Moore Investment Company at a cost of $250,000. It is a six-story, modern steel office building, with two double stores on Second Avenue, the principal street of Seattle, and contains 175 offices. The annual income from the property is between $50,000 and $60,000." (See "Seattle Real Estate Holding Its Own," The Commercial West, 07/13/1907, p. 35.) In 1905, lumber companies maintained offices in their Ballard or Fremont mills, or, more commonly, in two new office buildings in on 2nd Avenue, the Lumber Exchange or Alaska Building (completed in 1904); the Lumber Exchange housed the offices of 30 of the 95 lumber manufacturers and dealers listed in the 1905 Seattle City Directory (p. 1522 and 1524), while the latter had 14. Those clustered in the Lumber Exchange tended to be smaller firms or firms with branch offices in Seattle. Many lumber firms of this time did not maintain administrative offices downtown, but located them at their plants in Ballard, South Lake Union or Fremont.

The architectural firm of Saunders and Lawton designed the Lumber Exchange Building for James Moore one of the leading real estate developers in Seattle during the 1900-1920 period. Moore was also involved in early planning on the University of Washington's Metropolitan Tract and built the eponymous Moore Hotel and Theatre (1907).

The building opened in early 1903; in a classifed ad of 02/15/1903, the real estate firm of Bredes, Lebold and Cox indicated that it "Will remove in few days to Lumber Exchange." (See Bredes, Lebold and Cox classified ad, Seattle Times, 02/15/1903, p. 23.) The Moore Investment Company relocated its offices to the Lumber Exchange on 02/28/1903, moving from the Haller Building. It took some of the best offices on the building's top floors, in Rooms 630 through 640. The Seattle Times described it: ""The new offices of the company occupy one of the most desirable suites of rooms in the new building, being at the extreme end on the south wing, affording from the west windows an extensive view, including lower First Avenue, Railroad Avenue, the piers and docks along the waterfront and the bay, shore and mountains beyond." The article noted that Moore's company had rapid success in leasing space in the new highrise: "Every room in the Lumber Exchange was rented before the building was ready for occupancy, and today is general moving day for a large number of the tenants who are moving in." (See "Moves Its Offices," Seattle Times, 02/28/1903, p.4.)

In 1907, a group of Saint Louis-based investors purchased the Lumber Exchange Building for $375,000. This transaction occurred during a period of great instability within the US banking sector headquartered in New York City. The San Francisco Earthquake of 04/18/1906 caused a serious drain of capital out of New York and even London, where many insurance houses were located. This depletion of capital was compounded by problems in the price of railroad stocks which tumbled in value following the 07/1906 imposition of the Hepburn Act that limited fees charged by railroads in interstate commerce. This unstable financial environment was captured in this comment made in The Commercial West about the sale of the Lumber Exchange Building: "That Seattle real estate is holding its own well could have no better confirmation than the investment this week of St. Louis capital, through Seattle agents, of $325,000 in the Lumber Exchange building on the southwest double corner of Second Avenue and Seneca street. The transfer includes the building itself and the unexpired portion of a fifty-years' lease on the ground, which is owned by the Puget Mill Company. The lease has run four years." (See "Seattle Real Estate Holding Its Own," The Commercial West, 07/13/1907, p. 35.) Seattle weathered the Panic of 1907 relatively well, bolstered by the strong local demand for construction lumber to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.

The Lumber Exchange became renamed the Medical Arts Building in on Monday, 05/09/1932. This change reflected the impact of the Depression on Washington's lumber industry and served as a harbinger of its gradual deterioration after World War II.

Building Notes

This building was erected on the property of Amos Brown, another lumberman, a transplant from New Hampshire, who worked in the forests of British Columbia and Port Gamble, WA. Brown bought land holdings on what became 2nd Avenue between Spring Street and Seneca Street in Downtown Seattle, WA, before 1861.

Saunders and Lawton selected S.W. R. Daily, the Seattle agent of the Brown-Ketcham Iron Works of Indianapolis, IN, to provide steel for the building in 1902. (See "Real Estate and Building Review," Seattle Times, 06/08/1902, p. 32.)

A number of architects operated offices in the Lumber Exchange Building. Roy C. Stanley maintained an office here between 1921-1936.

The Toklas, Singerman and Company Clothing Store leased the first-floor, corner storefront of the Lumber Exchange Building c. 1911.


According to the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections Division, "In 1990, the Medical Arts Building was demolished by Wright, Runstad, & Co...." UW Libraries Special Collections Division holds the photographs taken by architectural photographer John Stamets (1949-2014) who meticulously documented the building before its demolition. (See "Guide to the Medical Arts Building Collection," accessed 05/21/2015.)

PCAD id: 11404