Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Priteca, B. Marcus, Architect (firm); Barnet Marcus Priteca (architect)

Dates: constructed 1933-1933, demolished 1992

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1301 SW 16th Street
Renton, WA 98057

Building History

Seattle businessman Vinson Joseph "Joe" Gottstein (1891-1971) opened Longacres Park racetrack near Renton, Washington, on 08/03/1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. Longacres Racetrack occupied the former James Nelson dairy farm. Gottstein, a real estate developer, gave architect B. Marcus Priteca (1889-1971) the commission for the Seattle Coliseum Theatre in 1911 and thereafter became a close friend of his. Priteca was a founding member of the Washington Jockey Club, that included Gottstein, Priteca, hotel owner William Edris, Dr. Richard O'Shea, Howard Lang, and M. Ross Downs. Naturally, Gottstein turned to his friend to design the one-mile oval track and a large building complex of barns and a grandstand with stunning views of Mount Rainier.

Priteca did travel to the Agua Caliente Casino and Hotel in 02/1929, as the racetrack was being planned and constructed. (See, Source Information San Diego, California, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists of Airplanes, 1929-1954 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012, accessed 12/08/2020.) Priteca's patron, Alexander Pantages, owned race horses at Agua Caliente in 1928, and it is likely he went to see them race. (See Theodore Saloutous, “Alexander Pantages, Theater Magnate of the West,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, vol. 57, no. 4, 10/1966, p. 146.) It is possible that he combined a personal outing with work to see the progress on the new and luxurious Agua Caliente Racetrack. It opened in 12/1929, but an earlier horse-racing facility, known as the Tijuana Jockey Club, had operated since 1916. It became a very fashionable destination for Hollywood stars to appear by the early 1930s, and would have been worth examining by Seattle horse-racing enthusiasts seeking to build their own racetrack.

Longacres was designed and built in an astounding 28 days. Historian Paula Becker, writing for, said of its construction: "A crew of 3,000 worked around the clock. Gottstein and Edris mortgaged properties and Gottstein took out an $85,000 personal loan to finance construction. Five months after House Bill 59 [that legalized paramutuel betting on horse races] passed and 28 days after Priteca picked up his pencil, Longacres racetrack -- racing strip, red and silver grandstand, clubhouse, 33 barns, a judges' stand, and parimutuel windows -- was completed. It was the first track on the Pacific Coast to successfully operate under the parimutuel system of betting. The first race meet lasted 40 days." (See Paula Becker,, "Longacres Racetrack," published 06/18/2005, accessed 12/17/2019.)

The first day of racing was 08/03/1933 before 11,000 spectators, the new track becoming a welcome diversion from the Depression, then at its nadir. Gottstein introduced innovative features at this track. Longacres was the first Washington racetrack to employ pari-mutuel wagering. "Under Gottstein’s guidance, Longacres became the first track of its size to install the totalizer and the photo-chart camera. Longacres was also the first track to carry an insurance program for jockeys and exercise boys. The first licensed woman trainer in the entire country was Ruth Parton, at Longacres. Sunday racing at Longacres was another national first. Longacres was also the site of the initial mounts for the first Japanese rider licensed in the United States." (See Susan Van Dyke, Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners"Joseph 'Joe' Gottstein – Sportsman and Capitalist," accessed 12/17/2019.)

The totalizer board and photo-chart camera were both added in 1938. As per the Historic web site: "As described by the Washington Horse Racing Commission, the totalizer was a combination printing machine, adding machine, and indicator. As wagers were placed at the parimutuel windows, tickets were printed and automatically issued by the "tote" machine. The total amounts bet in straight, place, and show categories were instantaneously registered as electrically lighted figures on the large infield indicator board, allowing fans to note the changing odds. After the race was run, the "tote" board automatically displayed the complete picture of the winning horses, including total amounts wagered, odds, and returns to be paid on winning tickets." (See Historic, "History of Longacres Longacres Park Horse Track, Renton Washington," accessed 12/17/2019.) Mounted above the finish line, the photo-chart camera system enabled clear photos of the horses at the finish to be sent to the track's racing stewards. In 1940, Gottstein installed the new Santa Anita Westinghouse Magnetic Control Starting Gate, that could automatically release horses at the same time. (See Historic, "History of Longacres Longacres Park Horse Track, Renton Washington," accessed 12/17/2019.)

During World War II, the track was requisitioned by the US Army, which housed soldiers on its infield. Profits from the track were poor during its first decade but picked up after racing began after the war.

The ownership of the race track and Gottstein's horse farm, Elttaes Farms, passed to his only child, Joan (born 1919). She married Maurice "Morrie" Alhadeff, a news editor and radio personality who worked for the Seattle radio stations KJR, KVI and KOL between 1932 and World War II. In 1947, Morrie began working in public relations at Longacres for his father-in-law, worked his way up to president and remained until 1987. Joan and Morrie had two sons, Michael and Ken, who began working at Longacres in 1959 and 1962, respectively. (See Susan Van Dyke, Washington Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners"Joseph 'Joe' Gottstein – Sportsman and Capitalist," accessed 12/17/2019.) By 1990, the Alhadeff Family was facing rising costs and diminishing profits running the 215-acre Longacres property, that had a King County Assessor Department value of $23.5 million. The Alhadeffs sold the parcel to the Boeing Company in late 09/1990 for approximately $90 million, sparking a modest local controversy. Boeing gave the Alhadeffs three years to suspend operations, and the track closed for good on 09/21/1992.

Building Notes

This racetrack was considered one of architect, B. Marcus Priteca's finest non-theatrical commissions.

Racing was discontinued for the first time in 53 years on 10/26/1986, when jockeys voted to not race on Longacre's rain-soaked and treacherous track. (See "Longacres Racing Cancelled," Ellensburg Daily Record, 10/27/1986, p. 10.)

In 1955, Longacres had a racing season of 55 days, beginning on 06/24/1955. By 1966, this had expanded to 68 days, between 05/27/1966 to 09/05/1966. The following year, 68 racing days were scheduled, between 05/26/967 until 09/04/1967.


Longacres Racetrack was demolished in 1992. Boeing Buildings 25-01 and 25-20 lay just east of the track's location. The track's southern edge can still be seen where a semi-circle of poplar trees remain.

PCAD id: 3242