42nd/Alaska/California demolition update: Last vault standing; the 1957 view from above

At mid-afternoon Friday, all that was left of the building on the southwest corner of 42nd/Alaska was what we’re told was once a vault. As projected by contractor Andersen Construction, working for developer/owner Equity Residential, the building was torn down in a week. We showed the Monday start here, and an update on Thursday, before crews moved on to the Rocksport side of the building Friday. One 7-story apartment/retail building is to go up on that side of the site, another on the west side, which formerly housed businesses including Super Supplements, and long before that, the West Seattle Hospital, including an upper story that’s long gone – check it out in this aerial from the city archives, dated 1957:

Aerial of West Seattle, 1957

Click here to see a larger view, and look closely for the street labeling. Note that Jefferson School (opened in 1912, closed in 1979) was still on the 42nd SW site now known as Jefferson Square, and look around the photo for other sites that are on the brink of change – what do you recognize that’s not there any more?

36 Replies to "42nd/Alaska/California demolition update: Last vault standing; the 1957 view from above"

  • gina October 12, 2013 (6:47 am)

    Ah,Jefferson. The Seattle Public School property sold because school district projections showed decreasing pupils in West Seattle for the next 50 years. Leasing the playground space to the County for a Park and Ride was one of the ideas laughed down.

  • let them swim October 12, 2013 (7:43 am)

    Gene Fielder Chevrolet, Andreson Chyrsler, the playground at Jefferson elementary school was huge. Westside Ford, also the Phillips 66 station
    across Alaska st. where demo is taking place.A&P
    grocery store-just to list a few. Oh yeah, the small cafe on Fauntleroy Way, just south of Alaska st.
    By the way, California ave. use to be two lanes – North and South- when cars were larger.

  • Alan October 12, 2013 (7:51 am)

    What is that massive building, just to the North of the old Jefferson school? It looks like it could be a parking garage. At any rate, it must have been demolished for the construction of Jefferson Square.

    • WSB October 12, 2013 (8:04 am)

      Alan – someone will correct me if this is wrong but if you click through to the Flickr page for the Seattle Municipal Archives (where this photo turned up much to my surprise when I was searching early-early – the city has some of its historic photos on Flickr as well as on the SMA’s web gallery), a comment there says it was the school’s asphalt playfield!

  • Azimuth October 12, 2013 (8:02 am)

    Thanks for the links WSB. What a shame to lose a building with that kind of character, no matter what kind of shape it was in. I wonder if we will shake our collective heads at today’s common building designs in 30 years the way we do now at building designs from the 70’s and 80’s? Actually, don’t answer that… ;-)

  • CW October 12, 2013 (8:23 am)

    Oh Man, West Seattle was so much better back then before the developers ruined it. I am going to build a time machine to travel back to ’57 and then move before they ruin it.

  • sc October 12, 2013 (8:26 am)

    If you enter “Zatz a Better Bagel” from the parking lot behind the store, there is a framed picture of the south east corner of California and Alaska in the hallway. This is the corner that is being torn down. It shows the West Seattle Bank and the West Seattle hospital was on the second floor. I wonder if WSB could take a picture of this to add to the story?

    • WSB October 12, 2013 (9:32 am)

      SC – thanks! We’re going to Admiral a bit later to photograph the PCC recycling event and I can probably detour our photographer over there to check it out while he’s in the area. I was hopeful at one point that the King County Assessor’s Office pages for the parcels would have historic pix – which is often the case for homes, but no. Will continue looking since we’ll be covering demolition work at this site for at least another week, it appears – TR

  • Jen October 12, 2013 (8:29 am)

    My older brother went to Jefferson..but I thought it was a middle school(?)I barely remember it being there…

  • Last53BusRider October 12, 2013 (8:42 am)

    Looks like another world – sort of. I wonder what West Seattle folks were wound up about back in 1957?

  • let them swim October 12, 2013 (8:50 am)

    @Alan, that’s the outside playground. Outside basketball hoops, monkey bars and numerous painted games on the blacktop. Jefferson also had inside playgrounds – roofed but, open on some sides for fresh air. My four siblings went there. Twas elementary only. Back then K thru 6th grade.

  • A October 12, 2013 (8:52 am)

    So sad. West Seattle has changed….for the worst. I’m looking forward to moving out.

  • Hank October 12, 2013 (9:06 am)

    Funny you think it’s getting worse, but I think it’s getting better. I used to dread visiting my friends in west seattle. Going bar hopping to the same two or three bars every time with only a few other small groups doing the same thing. Now there’s actually a decent amount of others walking about. If this trend continues more bars and restaurants will follow.

  • Eric b October 12, 2013 (9:17 am)

    Gina, I believe the district still owns the property, although there were some transactions that WSB covered back in May of 2009. Perhaps someone else has a clearer memory?

  • some1 October 12, 2013 (10:22 am)

    in 1957 WS people were probably tired of all the old buildings around and eager to tear them down and get modern – in the 50s and 60s Seattle couldn’t ‘modernize’ quickly enough.

  • JanS October 12, 2013 (10:42 am)

    the vault is from Westside Federal Savings Bank, that was there before Rocksport was even an idea…

    • WSB October 12, 2013 (10:43 am)

      Thanks, Jan – as a resident of only 22 years, I remember when there was a bank in the “Super Sup/hospital/etc.” building on the west side of the site so wasn’t entirely sure of the origin of the vault on the east side …

  • let them swim October 12, 2013 (10:48 am)

    Below the West Seattle Hospital was Peoples Bank, now U.S. Bank. I was born in that Hospital–not too many people can say that-that live in W.S.

  • trickycoolj October 12, 2013 (10:52 am)

    Funny in 1957 my grandma and grandpa lived near 35th and Holden, they just had their second baby, my mom. They grew to a family of six, 2 boys and 2 girls. They moved before the kids went to junior high… Their biggest worry? High Point and going to Madison Middle School. There were race riots at Sealth and my grandma thought it was unsafe for the kids so they moved south out of the city in the mid 60s.

    I would love to find folks that maybe knew my grandparents back then. My grandpa ran a Standard Station at California & Charleston.

  • JanS October 12, 2013 (11:35 am)

    I remember that station as a Chevron station. I lived in an apartment at Calif. and Andover when I first moved here in 1975.The 50’s and 60’s were before my time here…

  • Gina October 12, 2013 (12:20 pm)


    Use SW Alaska St and 42nd Ave SW for search, brings up sales history, and prices.

    I remember the playground wall along Alaska was covered with ivy and blackberry bushes. The ivy covered the sidewalk.

  • metrognome October 12, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    I imagine the WS residents in ’57 were complaining about all he new residents, the ugly new buildings and the awful traffic when rowing across to downtown …
    anyone know why someone decided to remove the second floor of the hospital building? Here’s a pic of what was on the NW corner in 1926, which would be the current location of Easy Streets. Note the streetcar tracks:

  • gina October 12, 2013 (12:32 pm)


    Current KC Assessed value? Over 50 million bucks.

  • Rick October 12, 2013 (12:48 pm)

    tricky-was your grandpa’s name Jim?

  • sc October 12, 2013 (1:53 pm)

    Here is some information from the “History Link” web site about the corner.

    Among those that were shuttered was the West Seattle State Bank, on the southeast corner of California and Alaska. “I can only say that after 20 years of successful operation, the institution finally fell a victim of the depression,” said A. C. Thompson, president of the bank, announcing its closure on July 13, 1933 (West Side Story, 126). Peoples National Bank later moved into the ground floor of the two-story building. In 1938, the second floor was adapted for use as a 20-bed hospital. “The hospital above the bank” — more formally known as West Seattle General Hospital — was West Seattle’s primary health center until it moved into larger quarters on Holden Street in 1961. Peoples Bank remodeled the building, removing the second floor, in 1967.

    • WSB October 12, 2013 (2:05 pm)

      SC – the photo hanging at Zatz is copyrighted by MOHAI/Pemco Collection so we couldn’t shoot it for republication (though I intend to contact MOHAI to ask what their terms of republication rights are) … one of the photos shared by a commenter above is online from that same collection, but I haven’t found the hospital-corner photo online yet.

  • metrognome October 12, 2013 (2:13 pm)

    here’s the Jefferson School photo from the MOHAI/Pemco collection

  • M Kimsey October 12, 2013 (4:02 pm)

    I think the photo is older than 1957 as the home I live in now was built in 1956 but appears as an open lot in this photo.

  • 1000amys October 12, 2013 (5:11 pm)

    FYI my mom remembers Jefferson being a K-8 school at one time, although she went to Madison for junior high. And I totally remember climbing the stairs to the playground when we were visiting my grandparents.

  • WestSide45 October 12, 2013 (5:23 pm)

    I was born in the hospital on the corner of Alaska and California. My mother said it had the slowest elevator on this, or any other, planet.

  • todd stratton October 13, 2013 (6:24 am)

    FOODLAND!!!!!My Mom took me shoping there all the time. They had a resturant up stairs that looked over the shopping area. Great photo! Thanks. Oh also there is a tiny building just as you start to go south on Fauntleroy. It was the “White Spot Cafe” I use to get burgers there when I was at the “Y”

  • Kc October 13, 2013 (9:29 am)

    My grandparents moved out from The mid west in 1917….Army outposts along the western ridges of puget sound and lived in one of only five houses on genesee hill.

    Funny the had what amounts to light rail in street cars, they too did not like change. What goes around comes around

    California and Charlestown had a gas and service station on three of its four corners

    And you could by underwear,drapes,and bedding and J.C. Penney’s and three major auto dealerships…I bet one will make more money in the land deals than he did in all the years selling cars

    Change…the more there is, the more it stays the same

  • Dave Gardner October 13, 2013 (9:55 am)

    Wasn’t the White Spot Cafe actually Websters White Spot, the forerunner of the Charlestown St. Cafe and others? Also, much as I liked the architecture of Jefferson School, I taught for years in schools built at the same time and it was no picnic. There was no running water in the classrooms, little counter space, poor heating and only two electrical outlets, one of which would often blow when you plugged in more than a couple of things. In this case, modern is better, for kids and teachers!

  • WSMortician October 13, 2013 (10:50 am)

    I see the original Howden-Kennedy Funeral Home building on Alaska Street! It will soon not be there anymore

  • miws October 13, 2013 (1:52 pm)

    Wasn’t the White Spot Cafe actually Websters White Spot, the forerunner of the Charlestown St. Cafe and others?


    Dave, yes it was.


    Sometime in the mid-late ’80’s, the family opened up “Websters” in the former Pizza Hut spot, now one of the buildings that VCA Animal Hospital occupies in the 5200 block of California.


    They opened up Charlestown, in the old Meal Makers spot, a few years later. As I recall, they operated both at the same time, for some time.



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