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Spring Home Design 2003: Glass HousesNow & Then
Par-T Central

Photo spacer Moderne, brand-new and state-of-the-art are terms that seem to cling to the stucco-and-reinforced-concrete surfaces of the Royal Crowne Cola bottling plant at Mercer Street and Third Avenue North when it opened in the spring of 1939. Now this corner of the block is landscaped with a small grove of cherry trees that shade a plaque commemorating the 50th anniversary of the close of World War II.

Put a thumb over the tower of this building and it may look faintly familiar. For many years, beginning around 1950, the structure, sans tower, was the home of Moose Lodge No. 211. Here, however, in 1939 it is new and showing the superstructure that would soon announce the new home of Par-T-Pack beverages.

In the eternal competition for even a small sip of the giant cola drink that is Coke and Pepsi, Royal Crowne hired Seattle architect William J. Bain Sr. to design this "Streamline Moderne"-style bottling plant at 222 Mercer St., kitty-corner from the Civic Auditorium. When the plant opened, management lined its new fleet of GMC trucks along Mercer for the photograph reprinted here.

Perhaps most spectacular was the state-of-the-art bottling line that was exposed to pedestrians and traffic on Mercer through the corner windows. When the levered windows were opened the clatter of the bottles moving along the assembly line added to the effect of industry on parade. The Mooses replaced the bottling line with a lounge and dance floor.

In the mid-1980s the Kreielsheimer Foundation began buying up this block with the intention of giving it to the city for a new art museum. When the Seattle Art Museum moved downtown instead, a new home here was proposed for the Seattle Symphony. But the symphony, too, relocated downtown.

For 14 months, including all of 2001, this corner was the first home for One Reel's still popular dinner tent show Teatro Zinzanni. Permission to use the corner came from Kreielsheimer trustee Don Johnson nearly at the moment the charitable foundation completed its quarter-century run of giving $100 million, mostly to regional arts groups.

Paul Dorpat's two-hour videotape on Seattle's early history, "Seattle Chronicle," is $29.95 from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145.

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