Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 9/25/2012
  • Essay 10192

700 Fairview Avenue N

Architect: John Graham Sr., 1913

The Ford Motor Company constructed this five-story regional assembly plant for Model T modules shipped from Detroit. It was one of Seattle's earliest large scale reinforced-concrete buildings and one of Ford's earliest regional assembly plants. Architect John Graham Sr. went on to serve as principal architect for Ford. He also designed many Seattle landmarks including the Joshua Green Building, the Seattle Yacht Club, and the Exchange Building. Henry Ford chose Seattle as a Model T assembly point after visiting the city in 1909 during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. Ford assembly plants built between 1913-1920 in Buffalo, Toronto, New York, Portland, and Dallas used the Seattle plant's design. By the late 1920s Ford needed a larger factory and in 1932 moved production to a one-floor plant at 4730 East Marginal Way. Ironically, plunging automobile sales during the Great Depression forced him to end production at that plant less than a year later.

In 1935 Fuller Paint Company purchased the building, adding a loading dock and installing four 25,000-gallon tanks at the southeast corner of the site to store linseed oil and turpentine. Craftsman Press, for many years Washington's largest printer, acquired the building in 1965. Until 1995 the Burlington Northern Railroad ran across Fairview Avenue to a spur on the south side of the building. After this service ceased, Craftsman sold the building to Shurgard Storage. Shurgard corporate offices occupied the building's top floor and mini-storage units filled the lower levels. In August 2006 Public Storage, Inc. of Glendale, California, purchased Shurgard. As of May 2007 the Ford Assembly Plant Building houses only storage units. On August 17, 1998, the Ford Assembly Plant Building was designated a City of Seattle landmark.

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