Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures; built works - recreation areas and structures - gymnasiums; built works - recreation areas and structures - recreation centers

Designers: Ford, Sherwood D., Architect (firm); Lohse, Henry, Sr., Building Contractor (firm); Sound Construction and Engineering Company (firm); Donald Clippenger (designer); Sherwood Diemer Ford (architect); Henry Lohse Jr. (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1929-1930

view all images ( of 4 shown)

1325 6th Avenue
Downtown, Seattle, WA 98101-2304

OpenStreetMap (new tab)
Google Map (new tab)
click to view google map
Google Streetview (new tab)
click to view google map
The Washington Athletic Club occupied the southwest corner of 6th Avenue and Union Street.

Building History

Seattle Mayor Frank E. Edwards, (1874-1943), and WAC President (and one-time President of the Bemis Bag Company) Reginald H. Parsons (1873-1955) presided at the groundbreaking ceremony for the $2.5 million, 21-story Washington Athletic Club, staged on 12/15/1929. Work was completed on the highrise clubhouse in about 10 months, and the WAC began operations on 12/16/1930. Originally, the building contained five first-floor retail storefronts and 122 sleeping chambers for use by club members.

As noted in the article, "Wayback Machine: The Washington Athletic Club," by David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman, the architect Sherwood D. Ford studied other urban athletic club buildings for inspiration. They stated: "“Sherwood D. Ford, architect (who traveled extensively to study athletic club buildings in Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia to familiarize himself with the latest designs and interior arrangements), has announced that razing of the building now on the land will start within 30 days and actual construction of the athletic club will be underway before Dec. 31, [1929]." See David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman,, "Wayback Machine: The Wshington Athletic Club," published 10/29/2013, accessed 04/28/2020.) Ford worked with the Sound Construction and Engineering Company operated by J.M. Dougan, C.C. Cawsey, Henry Lohse, Jr., (1872-1938) and John Hastie to complete the building.

Eskenazi and Rudman also discussed how the WAC has sponsored a number of local athletes competing in the Olympics. It stated: "Without the WAC, the 1936 University of Washington eight-oared crew probably would not have traveled to Berlin to win an Olympic gold medal under Adolph Hitler’s nose." (See David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman,, "Wayback Machine: The Wshington Athletic Club," published 10/29/2013, accessed 04/28/2020.)

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board considered nominating this for landmark status on 01/16/2008.

In 06/2019, the Union Street storefronts housed a Blue Water Taco Grill, Armoire women’s clothing rentals, Beckett and Robb Custom Menswear, and an HSBC Bank. A Sprint telephone store operated (until 2018) in the storefront later occupied by Armoire.

Building Notes

Meeting facilities within the Washington Athletic Club (WAC) were often rented out to community groups.

The WAC's 6th-floor swimming pool was named for swimmer Helene Madison, (1913-1970), who won three gold medals in freestyle events at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games. A Seattle resident, Madison learned to swim at Green Lake and refined her skills working with a coach, Ray Daughters, (1905-1972), at the Crystal Swimming Pooland the new Washington Athletic Club pool. In addition to the WAC pool being named in her honor, the City of Seattle also dedicated one of its pools at 13401 Meridian Avenue North for her.

Sculptures depicted male and female nudes on either side of a waterfall flanked the WAC's swimming pool windows. Tel: 206.622.7900 (2004).


A four-story addition was made to the WAC in 1955. WAC administrators enlarged the clubhouse by another eight stories in the 1970s. (See Washington Athletic, "History," accessed 04/28/2020.)

PCAD id: 3575