Downtown’s Lloyd Building Designated a City Landmark; YWCA Building Nominated

Lloyd Building in 1937 / Source: Puget Sound Regional Archives

Lloyd Building / Source: Lloyd Building Seattle Landmark Nomination

At its Wednesday, August 4th meeting, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) designated the Lloyd Building a City Landmark by a vote of 8-3. Located at the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and Stewart Street on the northern edge of downtown, the Lloyd Building was built in 1926 and designed by the prolific Seattle architect, Victor Voorhees. The Board designated the building based on two designation standards: 1) Criterion D – it embodies the distinctive visible characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or a method of construction; and 2) Criterion E – it is an outstanding work of a designer or builder. Download a pdf of the nomination from the Seattle Historic Preservation Program’s website.

This was no ordinary Board meeting. One would have thought it was a trial for the Lloyd Building. The City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ Historic Preservation Program prepared the nomination as part of its Downtown Historic Resources Survey and Inventory, which deemed the building eligible for local landmark listing. The survey’s intent was to identify potentially historic buildings in downtown and nominate those most worthy for consideration by the LPB. Owner consent is not required in Seattle. In the case of the Lloyd Building, the owner did not want the building landmarked. Although the owner has been a good steward of the building for many decades, and even boasts of the structure’s location in the “downtown core” and its “unique architectural character” on its own website, it objected to the nomination and designation.

The City’s consultant who prepared the nomination succinctly presented the salient points of the nomination in about 20-30 minutes.

The owner’s presentation consisted of about two hours worth of “expert” testimony by an architect, two architectural historians, and a preservation consultant (two of whom were from out-of-state). Also representing the owner was a land use attorney who offered opening and closing arguments. The testimony essentially boiled down to how the Lloyd Building did not meet any of the criteria, nor did it meet the threshold criterion of retaining sufficient integrity to convey significance. There was a lot of time spent on presenting “evidence” that was intended to make the Lloyd Building appear to be “an average” downtown building, which again, is counter to what is claimed on the owner’s website.

Public comments (in written and spoken form) in favor of designation were offered by Historic Seattle, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, and individuals and professionals with extensive expertise in Seattle’s architectural history. Historic Seattle, as owner of the Victor Voorhees-designed Washington Hall (a City Landmark), was well positioned to speak on the significance of the architect’s work. Public comments by two individuals who were against designation were also entered into the record.

Ultimately, in the end, after a grueling three hours, the Board voted to designate the Lloyd Building as a City Landmark. Next steps will be the negotiation of controls and incentives between the owner and City staff. Given the changes to the interior of the building, most likely the controls recommended will be on the exterior only.

YWCA Building in 1915 / Source: MOHAI

The last item on the agenda that evening was the nomination of the stately Italian Renaissance Revival style YWCA Building at 1118 Fifth Avenue in downtown Seattle. Without drama or controversy and within a relatively brief timeframe, the Board voted unanimously to nominate the building, constructed in 1914 and designed by architect Edouard F. Champney with A. Warren Gould. The YWCA was supportive of the building’s nomination. The YWCA Building was also a property that was identified in the City’s Historic Resources Survey and Inventory as eligible for landmark listing and the nomination was brought forth by the City. Download a pdf of the nomination from the Seattle Historic Preservation Program’s website. The YWCA Building is already listed individually on the National Register of Historic Places.