AKA: Fuller, W.P., Paint Company, South Lake Union, Seattle, WA; Craftsman Press, South Lake Union, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - industrial buildings - factories

Designers: Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); Pederson, Hans, Building Contractor (firm); John Graham Sr. (architect/engineer); Hans Pederson Sr. (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1913-1914

5 stories, total floor area: 127,800 sq. ft.

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1155 Valley Street
South Lake Union, Seattle, WA 98109-4426

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Fairview Avenue N and Valley Street

Building History

The first assembly of the Ford Model T automobile occurred in Detroit, MI, 10/01/1908; this West Coast assembly facility for Model T automobiles opened 02/20/1914 and produced cars until 1932, when another Ford plant opened south of Seattle's Downtown on Marginal Way. Ford operated plants in Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, Los Angeles, CA, Long Beach, CA, Richmond, CA, and Milpitas, CA, during the 20th century. Between 1908-1927, 15 million cars were built with the Model T engine in Ford factories. John Graham and Company had the commission for the five-story Seattle plant.

In 1936, the W.P. Fuller Paint Company purchased the old Ford Motor Company South Lake Union Plant. One-hundred-twelve workers produced paint in the facility in 1939. (See "Fuller Company Here in 1889," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 03/26.1939, p. 6HS.)

Building Notes

The former Seattle Ford Plant's address is also given as 700 Fairview Avenue North, Seattle, WA, 98109. In 2011, the masonry building occupied a 92,160-square-foot (2.12-acre) lot. It contained 127,800 gross square feet, 72,600 net. Of the gross square footage, 127,028 was used for storage, 772 as office space. An article in the trade publication Automobile Topics noted in 07/1912: "Although the Ford Motor Co. of Detroit, had acquired sites for four assembling plants to be erected on the Pacific Coast, only one of them, at Seattle, Wash., will be actually begun this year. This plant will take care of the assembling of about 2,500 cars and will be completed about the same time as the St. Louis plant, where 5,000 cars will be assembled. The Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco sites will be held pending developments in the Western business of the company." (See "Only One Coast Plant for Ford Now," Automobile Topics, XXVI: 10, 07/20/1912, p. 628.) The Seattle Times noted that on 01/12/1914, "More than 200 employes [sic] of Ford Motor Company in Seattle see wage doubled as result of Henry Ford's profit-sharing plan." (See "Seattle and State Advance During Year 1914," Seattle Times, 01/03/1915, p. 24.)

Brick and clay trade associations deluged the Ford Motor Company trying to persuade Henry Ford to choose load-bearing brick over concrete to support his new Seattle plant. While this proved ineffective in the end, brick manufacturers were pleased with the unified marketing effort to raise the profile of brick for the construction of factories. (See "Deluge Ford with Mail to Boost Brick," Brick and Clay Record, vol. XLII, no. 4, 02/15/1913, pp. 207-209.) This was despite the seismic drawbacks of load-bearing brick in earthquake-prone areas. A concrete trade publication called this letter-writing campaign silly, as the Ford plant needed concrete walls to enable wide expanses of glass to be used. The Ford plant ended with a concrete frame with brick veneer. (See "Brick and Clay Products Try Knocking Concrete," Concrete-Cement Age, vol. II, no. 3, 03/1913, pp. 106-107 and "A Brick Paper Reaches Height of Absurdity," Concrete-Cement Age, vol. II, no. 6, 06/1913, pp. 260-261.)


The building was altered to provide space for the Craftsman Press, which occupied the building for many years. The Queen Investment Company owned the building until 1998. On 1/26/1998, it sold the property to Shurgard Storage Centers, Incorporated. Shurgard undertook $3,202,000 worth of renovations during 04-05/1998 to the Ford building into a self-storage warehouse; the company performed $150,000 worth of alterations in 2000-2001, and $700,000 worth beginning in 08/2007. Later, Public Storage, another self-storage chain, occupied it.