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Lake Union Hydroelectric Plant/Power House
HistoryLink.org Essay 10207
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1179-1201 Eastlake Avenue E
Architect: Daniel Huntington, 1912, 1914, and Auxiliary Steam Plant. Daniel Huntington, 1914, 1917, 1921.
In 1912, Seattle City Light built a small hydro house on Lake Union's
east shore to generate power and help carry peak load. It was originally
called simply the Power House. Water piped down from Volunteer Park
powered its first turbines, followed in 1913 by steam-driven boilers.
The Auxiliary Steam House was constructed in three phases
beginning in 1914. Designer Daniel Huntington served as Seattle's City
Architect from 1911 to 1925, and is also responsible for the Fremont
branch of the Seattle Public Library.
Within only a few years Seattle's growing demand for power meant that
the plant was regularly used to generate base load power. The plant
continued to produce steam until the mid-1980s. An early 1990s plan to
convert the decommissioned power plant complex into condominiums fell
ZymoGenetics, a biotechnology company, purchased the complex in 1993.
ZymoGenetic's president, Bruce Carter, called the aged steam plant "the
mother of all fixer-uppers."
On August 1, 1994, the Lake Union Steam Plant and Hydro House and
its site were designated as City of Seattle landmarks, having been
found to meet all five of the six possible criteria for designation.
During the building's renovation, its seven decaying smokestacks were
replaced with six smaller facsimiles, in compliance with federal
standards which discourage exact replicas of lost historic features in
landmark structures. The purchase price for the Lake Union Steam Plant
was $1.6 million, and the price to renovate it nearly 20 times as much,
largely due to substantial oil pollution.
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