AKA: Unico Properties, LLC, White Building, Downtown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings; built works - commercial buildings - stores

Designers: Howells and Stokes, Architects (firm); Metropolitan Building Company, Developers (firm); Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation, Builders (firm); Unico Properties, LLC (firm); Abraham Horace Albertson (architect); John Francis Douglas Sr. (developer); John Mead Howells (architect); Isaac Newton Phelps Stokes (architect)

Dates: constructed 1908-1909, demolished 1974

11 stories

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Overview

This was the first office building undertaken by the Metropolitan Building Company on the former 10-acre campus of the University of Washington, begun in 02/1908. The New York architectural firm of Howells and Stokes designed the White Building, a component of the Metropolitan Tract, one of the largest coordinated ensembles of commercial properties erected in the US during the 1900s and 1910s. The building was named in honor of the Metropolitan Building Company's President, the lumberman, Chester F. White.

Building History

New York architects Howells and Stokes designed the White Building to fit within its masterplan for the Metropolitan Building Company's 10-acre Metropolitan Tract. The Stone and Webster Engineering Company of Boston constructed the building, at a cost of $610,000. Of the White-Henry-Stuart Building trio, the White Building was completed first in mid-08/1909, then the Henry later in 1909, and finally the Stuart in 1915.

A front-page article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer of 01/02/1908 described the planning for the Metropolitan Building Company's first skyscraper: "Announcement was made yesterday by J.F. Douglas, secretary of the Metropolitan Building Company, the $10,000,000 syndicate which has secured the lease of the old university tract, that instead of erecting a seven-story building at Union street and Fourth avenue, it will put up an eleven-story structure, which, it is estimated, will cost approximately $500,000. This decision was reached as a result of the recent visit of C.F. White, president of the company, and J.F. Douglas, as well as several other prominent Seattle men, including J.W. Close, to New York, where the plans for the building are being drawn by Architects Howell & Stokes. After conferring with the architects it was decided that the best thing to do is to build each building complete. The eleven-story building is to be of steel construction, faced with brick and trimmed with terra cotta, and will resemble the Alaska building. It is to be designed as an office building." (See “Tall Building To Go up on Union Street Corner,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, vol. LIII, no. 49, 01/02/1908, p. 1.)

This article went on to discuss the significance of the Metropolitan Tract: "Plans for the improvement of the entire tract have been completed, and are to be placed on exhibition at the annual exhibit of the Architects’ League of America in New York City, the latter part of January. Mr. Douglas says that this is the largest thing of its kind ever exhibited, and that the only exhibit that has heretofore approached it that of a group of buildings designed to cover two full blocks. (See “Tall Building To Go up on Union Street Corner,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, vol. LIII, no. 49, 01/02/1908, p. 1.) Howell and Stokes' drawings for the Metropolitan Tract ensemble were exhibited at the 1908 annual exhibition of the Architectural League of New York.

Building Notes

One of three conjoined office buildings, the White-Henry-Stuart Buildings, that occupied a prominent portion of the Metropolitan Tract, a parcel of land where the first University of Washington Campus stood, developed in the 1900s-1910s by the Metropolitan Building Company.

The Metropolitan Bank operated in the first floor of the White Building in 1912.

A number of lumber companies operated offices in the White-Henry-Stuart Building complex during the 1910s and 1920s. The Alberni Pacific Lumber Company, had an office in Room #715 of the White Building in 1918. (See R.L. Polk and Company's Seattle, Washington, City Directory, 1918, p. 313.)

Alteration

Annexes were added to the White and Stuart Buildings in 1922-1923 also by Howells and Stokes. The White-Henry-Stuart Buildings all underwent a large-scale renovation in 1955.

Demolition

The White Building, along with the Hnery and Stuart Buildings were razed.

PCAD id: 15105