Thursday, September 24, 2009
My Favorite Belltown Building
Sure, I have a fairly short list of Belltown architectural favorites: the Darth Vader Building, the Mosler Lofts, the Austin A. Bell Building, the Castle Apartments...let's see...OK, that's about it. They all provide a welcome relief from all the ugly buildings this neighborhood has to offer (and will remain nameless, because I don't want this post to go on forever), but by far, my all-time favorite is definitely the Hull Building.
The Hull calls 1st & Battery home - as does the fabulous Austin A. Bell Building. It's a three-story Romanesque box that attracts little attention from passersby. It was built in 1889, the year Washington became a state. At the time, Belltown was mostly forest and Denny Hill was more than two decades away from obliteration. I'm so fond of it because this is what much of Seattle's urban architecture used to look like - dark, squat, and slightly foreboding.
If you look at pictures of downtown at the turn of the century, you'll see a slew of buildings all very much like the Hull. These days, there's just the Hull. It's difficult to find any kind of history on it. (You have failed me, Internet!) My sources tell me that it was a commercial building. At present, it still is; it houses a dry cleaning business and a designer clothes boutique. The upper floors are either empty or are used as the dry cleaner's storage area. I've heard of numerous attempts to buy the place back in the nineties, but all were unsuccessful. Apparently, the people who own the dry cleaner (which is really quite good) also own the building. And they're not keen to sell to anybody.
So there it stands - a bulwark against modernity, a window into the past and an inspiration to weirdo dreamers like myself. I've long thought about how cool it would be to renovate the top floor into a huge living space. Of course, the owners would never allow it, but every time I walk by, I can't help thinking about it. Of course, renovation would be a total nightmare. You'd have to rewire and replumb the whole place. It would cost a fortune and take forever. But still, it would be worth it to be the Omega Man of the Hull. So if anybody is personally acquainted with the Hull's owners, put in a good word for me. I'm quiet, dependable and I love the Hull Building. When can I move in?
Read more of Hideous Belltown!