Thiry's modern life

Property Watch: An Early Paul Thiry in Magnolia

Thiry is known for modern architecture, but for this provincial revival home, he got busy.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd May 26, 2021

Image: TJ Simon

Paul Thiry was a pioneer of modernism in the Pacific Northwest. While Seattle’s unique brand of midcentury modern really gained steam in the 1950s, Thiry turned to clean lines and cubical forms twenty years earlier when he began designing his own home, the first of many modern works in his prolific career. He made his most recognizable mark on the city as the principal architect of the 1962 World’s Fair. Thiry always envisioned the site as a long-term cultural hub rather than a temporary installation, leading to what is still Seattle Center today.

But in his earlier career, the architect cut his teeth on the popular residential styles of the 1920s and 1930s, the era that filled Seattle to the brim with Tudor houses. This four-bedroom Magnolia home was built in 1931, just two years after Thiry established his practice. It’s incredibly charming: Every single window outside of the basement is leaded glass, and the ones on the west side of the home have an Elliott Bay view.

Image: Derrick Louie

Like many homes of the era, it borrows from a few revival styles, though in Seattle it’s not too often that French provincial shines the brightest. Here the highlights start with its stately exterior, with small dormers nestled in the steep roofline. It even has a row of finials, or roof ornaments, on top. Inside, find archways, fun ceiling shapes, and a cascade of formal spaces.

Image: Derrick Louie

It’s gone through some changes in the last 90 years, including some attempts to make it more modern. While that’s oddly appropriate given the rest of Thiry’s career, it’s a pretty huge departure from what this house is working with. In the last couple of decades it’s had a little restoration done, and more recent interior design changes manage to square the past and future with statement light fixtures and brass hardware. The finished result has reverence to the original—but it also has air conditioning.

Image: Derrick Louie

By some kind of miracle, nobody ever tried to knock out the kitchen wall. Instead, wide French doors with a leaded-glass design open up the kitchen to a serene, brick-lined patio. A built-in grill area, trellises, and greenery create a more relaxed vibe, but still complement the formal spaces inside.

Image: Derrick Louie

There's more room for growth in the house's future, especially in the matching two-car garage. At one point, the current owners had plans drawn up to convert it into an ADU; with that same European countryside look as the main home, that cottage would have ridiculous levels of quaintness.

Listing Fast Facts

2504 42nd Avenue West
Size: 3,358 square feet/.2 acres, 4 bedroom/2.25 bath
List Date: 5/19/2021
List Price: $2,198,000
Listing Agents:
Adam Bradley and Eleanor Heyrich Payne, Realogics Sotheby's International Realty


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