The next Bauhaus building?

In the wake of the Bauhaus building buy-out and its related seismic-readiness issues, here is another “pre-earthquake regulation” building that could be the next target for Capitol Hill redevelopment.

The building housing Callahan’s Auto at 1319 E. Madison ranks as one of Capitol Hill’s highest seismic risk structures, according to a 2007 survey of unreinforced masonry structures in the area. The two-story Talbot building — constructed in 1920, according to King County records — still has its original solid wood supports and beams, each measuring about one-foot in diameter.


Kevin Callahan isn’t too concerned, especially after safely weathering the 2001 Nisqually earthquake from inside the shop. “I watched (the wood supports) sway back and forth … but they held and did what they needed to do,” he said.

Callahan said engineers have told him those hefty wood supports can withstand earthquakes surprisingly well — at the very least, they’ll keep the roof from falling-in, even if the brick walls crumble around it (as was been the fate of many Pioneer Square buildings).

The Talbot building has housed the Callahan family car shop since Callahan’s father bought the building in 1948. Callahan told CHS the building has been the same structurally ever since. No renovations or seismic reinforcements have been added, and he doesn’t intend to make any major overhauls or add seismic supports.

“I’m sure the city would love to have us out of here, but we’re going to stay as long as possible.”

If that’s the case, the building would be safe — from redevelopment — for now. FEMA regulations that require seismic rework are only triggered if the building undergoes major reconstruction or changes use.

The building neighbors Chop Suey and the Madison Pub near 14th and Madison.

Callahan said he has had several offers to sell the building over the years, but has turned them all down. Last year King County appraised the property at $1,547,700.

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