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<< Back to Start | < Previous Point | Next Point > Point 2 of 30

Point 2: Naval Reserve Building (Armory)

Before Euro-American settlement, this area was a trade landing for tribal peoples. In the 1870s coal barges from Newcastle were docked here and the coal was then transferred by rail to vessels at Elliott Bay.

The first sawmill on Lake Union, owned by Lake Union Lumber and Manufacturing, was opened in 1882 by Luther M. Roberts, Thomas Hood, Nicholas Davidson, and Isaac A. Palmer. It was located at the southern end of the lake, where today Westlake Avenue intersects with Valley Street. David Denny bought the mill in 1883 or 1884 and renamed it Western Mill Co.

J. S. Brace and Frank Hergert leased Western Mill in 1895, then in 1899 purchased the mill outright. In 1909 the main mill burned. Brace and Hergert rebuilt a much larger mill north of Valley Street, driving 100-foot pilings into the lake and placing fill along the lakeshore to support construction.

In 1887 the Seattle Steam Laundry opened nearby, and thereafter every day was laundry day in South Lake Union. In time commercial laundries became a mainstay of the South Lake Union and Cascade neighborhoods as the Troy Laundry, Supply Laundry, Prim Laundry, Overall Laundry, and New Richmond Laundry and many others all profited from the Sisyphean task of keeping early Seattleites relatively clean.

The Art Deco-style Naval Reserve Center, designed by B. Marcus Priteca and William R. Grant as an armory for the United State Navy, was built on the site of the Western Mill. It was dedicated in June 1942. During World War II this facility housed a training school. The building featured a "wet-trainer" room (a watertight room that could be filled with water so that sailors could practice evacuating a flooded ship's compartment), a full-scale ship's bridge, a chart room, a radio room, a combat information center, a rifle range, and a two-story gymnasium. After the war ended it became the local headquarters for the United States Naval Reserve, which deeded the building and its five-acre parcel to the Seattle Parks Department in 2000.

In 2011 the Naval Reserve Building becomes the new home for MOHAI -- the Museum of History & Industry.

<< Back to Start | < Previous Point | Next Point > Point 2 of 30

Western Mill Co., South Lake Union, Seattle, ca. 1891
Photo by Frank La Roche, Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg. LAR303)

Brace and Hergert Mill, Seattle, 1910
Photo by Vern L. Grinnold, Courtesy Paul Dorpat

Naval Reserve Armory (U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Building) (B. Marcus Priteca and William R. Grant, 1942), Lake Union, Seattle, ca. 1946
Courtesy Mimi Sheridan

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