AKA: Boeing Company, Plants #2-41 and #2-42, Georgetown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - industrial buildings - factories

Designers: Austin Company, Building Contractors (firm); John Stewart Detlie Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1936, demolished 2011

1 story, total floor area: 754,000 sq. ft.

7755 East Marginal Way South
Georgetown, Seattle, WA 98108-4002

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Building History

Plant #2 served as a main manufacturing facility for the B-17 "Flying Fortress" bombers used by US Army Air Forces (USAAF) most intensively between 1939-1945; at the acme of production, Boeing manufactured 16 complete B-17s daily. Boeing was not the only producer of B-17s; Lockheed Aircraft Corporation and Douglas Aircraft Company also collaborated with Boeing to produce B-17s for the war effort. Beginning on September 21, 1942, the B-29 "Superfortress" bombers were built, in part, in this plant. (3,960 B-29s were manufactured by three collaborating manufacturers in five different plants across the U.S. Boeing produced the plane in its Renton, WA, Seattle, WA, and Wichita, KS, factories.) In addition, the first Boeing B-52 bomber was produced here beginning in 03/1954; a number of other models were also assembled in Plant #2 over the years: the 307 Stratoliner, EB-47, 377 Stratocruiser, and 737. During these high production years, solvents, oils and other contaminants leaked from the plant (or were dumped), entering the groundwater and into the nearby Duwamish River and Elliott Bay. In 05/2010, the Boeing Company agreed to pay $2 million to clean up pollutants expelled from Plant #2 from c. 1940-on. It also pledged to restore the shoreline of the Duwamish River next to the plant.

Building Notes

The Boeing Plant #2 possessed 754,000 square feet, distributed in two buildings, #2-41 and #2-42. According to architectural historian Diana Painter: "Architecturally, the building is considered a landmark design solution for enclosing very large spaces. Built by the Cleveland-based Austin Engineering Co. and constructed in two major stages, in 1936 and 1941, the structure was [during World War II] camouflaged to make it appear from the air as a quiet residential neighborhood, thus hiding the enormous factory from enemy aircraft." (See Diana Painter, "Seattle's history at risk in plans for Boeing plant demolition," in Crosscut.com, 07/17/2010,Accessed 07/19/2010.)

Seattle architects had an active program during World War II to camouflage strategic buildings in the region. Many major architects attended the 15-week Camouflage School Camouflage Division, Office of Civilian Defense, University of Washington, 10-12/1942. The architect, John Detlie (1908-2005), attended this school and had a background as a set designer in Hollywood during the 1930s. He devised the residential neighborhood camouflage scene hiding the plant.


A second construction phase was completed in 1941, when the plant began retooling to begin mass-production of B-17 bombers. At its height, 362 B-17s were built in a month. Camouflage of the building included painting the sides of the plant in gray, green and light brown abstract patterns and erecting canvas-sided houses and chicken-wire trees on the roof. It was removed in 1946.


Demolition of the plant was seriously discussed in 2010, and occurred on 09/24-25/2011. According to Boeing data, the company recycled 13,000 tons of structural steel and other metals, 100,000 tons of concrete, and 900 tons of old-growth timber from Plant #2. (see Kathleen Spicer and Cindy Naucler Glickert, "Something old, something new," Boeing Frontiers, vol. X, no. X, 03/2012, p. 38-39.)