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Originally published Friday, January 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

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Seattle’s Zindorf Apartments were built to last, and still do

The apartment’s accompanying portrait, from about 1911, reveals that it was lavishly decorated with art tile outside (as well as in). But most important, these apartments were made of fireproof reinforced concrete.


Special to The Seattle Times

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MATHEW PATRICK Zindorf, the sturdy builder-developer of these namesake apartments, ran a classified in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer for Sept. 19, 1909, that trumpeted the qualities of his then-modern, four-story (with basement) creation on the east side of Seventh Avenue, mid-block between Cherry and Columbia streets. Distributed throughout were 71 apartments, 40 with two rooms, 28 with three, and three with four. Every one of them had disappearing beds, tiled and enameled bathrooms, and kitchenettes fitted with refrigerators and gas ranges. Every apartment was entered through elegant doors aglow with art glass; floors, halls and stairs were finished in Alaska marble and art tiling.

The apartment’s accompanying portrait, from about 1911, reveals that it was lavishly decorated with art tile on the outside as well. But most important, these apartments were made of fireproof reinforced concrete. It was a point of such gravity to the long-lived Zindorf that his Seattle Times obituary for April 13, 1952, says he “built the first reinforced concrete structure here . . . the Zindorf Apartments.” Historian Diana James, author of “Shared Walls,” a history of Seattle’s apartment buildings, says she thinks the Waldorf apartment-hotel earned that distinction. Built a few blocks north of Zindorf about three years earlier in 1906, the Waldorf is also described in The Times as “strictly fireproof . . . built of reinforced concrete.”

In any case, the Zindorf had tenants by late 1909. In the Times classifieds for Dec. 12, 1909, a self-acclaimed “first class dressmaker,” Mrs. Amsbury, was advertising her services from Zindorf apartment 1-b. Early in January a “professional masseur and chiropodist” was offering rheumatism massage in a Zindorf apartment.

A century ago the neighborhood was distinguished by the brick Monticello Hotel, directly across Seventh Avenue from the Zindorf; the Seattle Fire Department’s headquarters, at Seventh and Columbia; the brick Columbia Building (also showing here), next door at the same intersection, and nearby both St. James Cathedral and Trinity Episcopal Church. Cable Railways on both James and Madison streets provided easy access to the business district.

For the second half of its life, the Zindorf has faced the freeway, and heard it, too.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard’s blog at www.pauldorpat.com.



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