At the turn of the 20th century, hundreds of multi-family rental houses dotted the hills south of downtown Seattle. Today, however, the Victorian Apartments offer the city's only unaltered example of a pre-1900 wooden apartment building. Built in 1891 at the corner of 10th Avenue and Weller Street, the Victorian Apartments were moved three blocks in 1908 to avoid the massive regrading project that flattened the Jackson Street hill from a 15 to 5 percent grade. This project had a drastic effect on the area as a few of the buildings, like the Victorian Apartments, were moved out of the area, some were moved temporarily and replaced, but most of the buildings were demolished. South Twelfth Street quickly became surrounded by the Chinese and Japanese communities as racial tensions pushed them easterly during the 1910s and 1920s. Since then the community has been dramatically changed by the effects of the Japanese-American internment in addition to the post-World War II urban renewal and interstate construction.
By the 1980s the building had noticeably deteriorated, particularly its stylish but difficult-to-maintain decorative woodwork, such as bands of fishscale shingles and its large bay windows and porches. Historic Seattle, Seattle's city-wide Preservation and Development Authority, established a partnership that allowed the building's 83 year-old owner to retain interest and remain in her home. In 1992, with the aid of tax credits from the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program, the Victorian Apartments underwent a $1.5 million rehabilitation that created 14 units of affordable housing.
The Victorian Apartments are located at 512-522 South Twelfth St. The building is not open to the public.
Victorian Apartments today
Photograph by Mike Romine, courtesy of Stickney Murphy Romine Architects, P.L.L.C. of Seattle
Victorian Apartments before rehabilitation
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