94-year-old Highland Apartments lined up for seismic overhaul — But first, is it a landmark?

One of the next Capitol Hill buildings to be considered for City of Seattle landmark protections this summer is going through the process before it can also get another sort of important protection — from earthquakes.

The Highland Apartments, the 1924-built masonry condominium building in the 900 block of 11th Ave E just across from Volunteer Park, is lined up to be reviewed in June “in order to ascertain its historic nature prior to a proposed major alteration to the property,” according to the nomination report prepared on behalf of the building’s owner.

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Though it is technically a condo building, the 12 units are owned by a company registered to prolific Capitol Hill real estate investor Morris Groberman and the units are apparently leased as apartments. According to city permit records, the property is being prepared for a “structural retrofit of an unreinforced masonry building.”

“The intent of the retrofit is to meet the technical requirements of the Unreinforced Masonry Policy that is currently being considered in the City of Seattle,” the applicant writes. In the meantime, permits indicate there is a tenant relocation process in planning and the owner is also planning to add another unit to the building by converting the laundry room and adding “stacking laundry machines to various units.”

Before the occurs, the high-character, 94-year-old building will be evaluated for possible protections for its exterior and interior characteristics.

The building has excellent roots. It was designed by Stuart and Wheatly, the duo behind the six-story Biltmore Apartments (1923-24) at the corner of Summit and Loretta Place. William C. Malaney, meanwhile, the owner who had the building constructed, is a bit of a historical mystery, according to the nomination report, and sold the building within nine months of its construction. The cost of building the Highland Apartments “four-story luxury apartment building,” by the way, was about $65,000, according to a Seattle Times article at the time.

So, what about the architecture? Here’s how the nomination report describes the design:

The architects Stuart & Wheatley designed the subject building in a Tudor Revival style, massed as a palatial brick block with three stories over a rusticated base, and with three full-height chamfered- corner bays projecting from the front elevation. These large bays, which serve as sunrooms for the units, measure approximately 10 by 10 feet in plan. Deep red rug face brick was used on the main elevation. The first floor of the main elevation is rusticated with a layer of pale gray cementitious plaster over board-formed concrete, scored to resemble stone blocks.

The building’s interior features, meanwhile, were well apportioned. “Tax assessor records state that original finishes included fir and oak floors, plaster walls, fir trim, brick and tile fireplaces, all of which appears to be generally intact,” the report reads.

In general, that intact-ness extends throughout the building and its features, according to the report. Major alterations have been rare in the building’s 94 years on Capitol Hill — though in 2002 it required a $21,000 project to repair damage to its masonry exterior suffered during the Nisqually Quake the previous year. Here’s hoping history does not repeat.

The Highland Apartments goes in front of the landmarks board June 20th:

Landmarks review: Highland Apartments

You can email comments on the nomination to erin.doherty@seattle.gov. The full nomination report is below.

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3 thoughts on “94-year-old Highland Apartments lined up for seismic overhaul — But first, is it a landmark?

  1. Classic building, along with the others on that side of the block. My grandmother lived there!

    I’m surprised it’s not already landmarked. Hopefully it will be soon, to protect it from some unscrupulous developer.