The Bernardo and Rose Germani Residence dates from 1926 and is associated with Georgetown’s shift from residential and commercial (between 1890 and 1916) to increased industrial growth, which occurred between 1916 and 1942. A number of factors contributed to this transition: the onset of prohibition and resulting closure of the Seattle Brewing and Malt Company (SBMC), the construction of the Duwamish Waterway, and the arrival of new businesses such as the Boeing Airplane Company. By 1923, much of Georgetown had been rezoned industrial.
Little information is known about the property’s original construction or ownership history, although early maps provide some clues. According to Baist’s 1908 Real Estate Atlas, this parcel contained a single frame building that was set back from the street (then known as “Charleston Avenue”). Georgetown Public School occupied several lots to the south and the Woodin Residence (#5801) was across the street. The King County Hospital was located further south. The 1912 Baist atlas depicts two frame structures occupying this lot, and Pacific Telephone and Telegraph was situated across the street (north) at the corner of Corson and Snohomish Avenues. Kroll’s 1920 Atlas of Seattle shows two buildings located at this address, including one at the northeast corner and a square building set back on the lot. None of these early maps indicate what the buildings were used for; however, according to oral information, they supposedly were used as the master brewer’s residence for the nearby Seattle Brewing and Malt Company (SBMC).
In 1923, Bernardo F. Germani purchased the house and grounds to establish his ornamental cast stone manufacturing business. Initially, a manufacturing workshop occupied the lot’s north corner. Bernard F. Germani appears in the 1923 city directory as a mechanic, residing with his wife Mary (Rose) at 123 Dawson Street. The following year lists him as the manager of his new business, “Italian Architectural & Art Company,” with their home address at 5610 Corson Avenue. (Directories dating after 1927 identify their residence at #5609.) In 1925, Germani applied for a building permit for his property at #5611 to “build residence per plan filed.” The design called for a one-story masonry building measuring 20 by 24 feet and terminating in a flat parapet roof. The total cost was $800.
The Germani residence reflects the very popular “Spanish Eclectic” style that, along with a mix of Period Revival styles, gained favor during the 1920s and replaced the overwhelming influence of the Craftsman aesthetic of the previous two decades. This architectural trend was a boost to Germani’s business, creating a ready market for cast stone ornamentation. A historical photo, dating from 1937, shows his own residence featuring a central arched entrance flanked by arched windows on the primary (south) façade and two arched windows on the west side façade, all embellished with decorative cast stone surrounds. The front entry, a multi-paned wood door, was surmounted by an arched transom with decorative mosaic. The flat roof was capped by an overhanging stone cornice. The historical photo indicates that a ten-foot brick addition was appended to the rear of the building by this date. The addition contained grouped, four-over-four double-hung wood-sash windows. It is further distinguished by its change in brickwork and slightly elevated roofline.
In 1929, B.F. Germani applied for a building permit to “wreck shed” and build a shop on his property. The 1929 Sanborn map shows three structures on this property: a frame structure (#5609) marked “C.C. Art Conc. Works” at the northeast corner, a smaller frame structure at the rear (northwest corner), and a brick dwelling (5611-13) set back on the property. The lots immediately south remain undeveloped at this date.
The 1940 city directory lists Bernardo and Mary R. Germani still residing at 5609 Corson Avenue, but no longer identifies a business operating at this address. In 1939, B. Germani sought a building permit to alter the roof on his family residence; there was no increase in area and no change in occupancy. However, by the following year, he embarked on an extensive building remodel, which included the addition of a second floor and hipped roof. This upper addition is visible in the change in masonry pattern between the two floor levels. It is also distinguished by its smaller, rectangular wood-sash windows.
Real property records indicate that Alden B. Winters, et al, purchased the property in 1971 for $15,000. It was subsequently acquired by Hugh and Barbara Pape, who sold it to the current owner in 1998. The building has since been converted to a private residence and is currently home to The Corson Building
The two-story brick masonry residence set back from the street occupies a rectangular footprint measuring 20 by 34 feet, which includes a ten-foot rear extension. The building’s exterior is distinguished by its “Spanish Eclectic” style ornamentation, including ornate iron grillwork, arched window and door openings with cast stone surrounds (first-floor), and a broad, hipped roof. Smaller rectangular windows occupy the second story. A brick chimney projects from the center of the main roof ridge. A differentiation in the building’s exterior brickwork is visible between the first and the second floor, which dates from the 1940 remodel. The interior features a number of intact historic features including plaster and travertine marble walls, concrete and hardwood floors, and a cast stone fireplace surround. BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Urban Conservation, 1997 Architectural Survey (Site No. GT019); WSA, PSB, Bellevue Community College, King County Tax Assessor’s Real Property Records; Seattle City Directories; Baist’s Real Estate Atlases; Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps; Kroll’s Atlases of Seattle.