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Seattle Federal Office Building Restoration Starts During National Historic Preservation Month

SEATTLE, WA -- The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will begin construction on an exterior restoration project of the 86-year-old Seattle Federal Office building located in downtown Seattle. 

The $24.2 million exterior improvement project will help preserve the first official federal building constructed in Seattle to house federal agencies. Coincidentally, the project is starting during National Historic Preservation Month. This project is a testament to the importance GSA places on restoration and preservation.

“The preservation of our region’s most important buildings is good for taxpayers and good for our federal tenants who rely on GSA to deliver on its mission of providing savings in real estate,” said Northwest/Arctic Region GSA Regional Administrator Roy Atwood.

The work on this important historical Seattle building includes restoration of the exterior terracotta and brick facade, window restoration, roof replacement, and other projects to prevent the intrusion of water into the building.

Without this important restoration, weather and other forces will continue to degrade exterior material and damage the structural integrity of the building. The last major upgrades to the building were completed in 1993. As a registered historic building, all work must comply with the guidelines for historic structures.

Crews are expected to start soon and continue into the Summer of 2021. Perimeter fencing and scaffolding may be installed around the building for safety purposes. The fence could limit pedestrian accessibility on the sidewalks at times. 

Additionally, one side of the building could be used as a staging area for the contractor which would impact pedestrian traffic and street traffic for a short period of time.

Please visit www.gsa.gov/SeattleFOBrestoration for important updates to accessibility to the building and surrounding sidewalks as the project progresses.

Restoring this important Seattle building has been a priority for GSA’s Northwest/Arctic Region for some time. Besides being the first home to more than 50 federal agencies when it opened, GSA recognizes the importance of increasing the building’s lifespan given the historical significance of the property on which it sits.

The site the Seattle Federal Building was constructed on is significant in the development of the city. Prominent Seattle citizen A.A. Denny claimed that it was here he and two other city founders, William Bell and Carson Boren, first beached their canoe in the winter of 1851, later establishing the area as Seattle. Denny subsequently built the first settler's cabin on the east side of Front Street (currently First Avenue), opposite the Seattle Federal Building site. 

The site is also associated with the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 that is believed to have been started with a glue pot that tipped over in what is now the boiler room for the building. The fire raged through the city - over 64 acres and 58 blocks of the city's commercial center, which was destroyed. This fire started a rebirth of Seattle. In 1974, the site was placed on the State Register of Historic Places to commemorate the location where the great Seattle Fire started. The event is recognized with a plaque placed at the northeast corner of the Federal Office building.

For more information about the project visit www.gsa.gov/SeattleFOBrestoration and for more information about GSA and historic preservation please visit: https://www.gsa.gov/real-estate/historic-preservation