Itty Bitty Thiry

Property Watch: A Vintage Condo Designed by Paul Thiry

Before Paul Thiry was a world-famous architect and modernist, he designed this Art Deco building in Eastlake—home to this 733-square-foot condo.

By Sarah Anne Lloyd November 2, 2022

Seattle’s own world-famous Paul Thiry was known as a pioneer of American modern architecture. As the principal architect of the 1962 World’s Fair, which brought us major landmarks like the Space Needle, he's earned his place in the city's pantheon of greats. But even the most talented of artists start somewhere—which brings us to this one-bedroom condo, filled to the brim with 1920s charm.

This building, originally for-rent apartments before going condo in the 1990s, was among Thiry’s very earliest projects, built when he was fresh out of the University of Washington’s architecture school and before he’d taken up the modernist mantle. It’s considerably more Art Deco than most other higher-end examples in Seattle’s brick apartment building boom, which was dominated by Historic Revival styles like those championed by Frederick Anhalt. But Thiry appears to share Anhalt’s general ethos here: Apartment homes should feel just as personal and desirable as detached houses.

Now, the interior of the home looks cute and vintage, but it was apparently a little cutting-edge for the time. A Seattle Times article from April 13, 1930, raves that it had “a strong lean toward the futuristic,” noting “both front and rear entrances,” good cross-ventilation, and how each room has an exterior wall (“the better to enjoy the wide sweep of lake, Sound, and mountains”). Each unit had “a Frigidaire”—how modern!

This home, unit 202, has survived remarkably well with the same comfortable layout and just a few more recent upgrades. Through a decorative front door and small arched entryway, the living room has its original fireplace with a recessed mantle shelf and a deep green tile hearth. It appears to be no longer wood-burning, but there’s some kind of outlet in the back for putting in your own fire-adjacent solution. One recessed area has more modern built-ins, perhaps replacing an older one.

Adjacent to the living room are the dining room and kitchen, separated from each other only by a wide, arched opening. The dining area gets a little touch of majesty from a deeply coved ceiling, while the kitchen is decked out in period-style tilework. If you were curious, the fridge is no longer a Frigidaire, but a retro-style Galanz.

The home’s private patio is just through the dining room, sheltered by concrete planters on either side. While most of its space is taken up by a table and chairs now, it could easily fit a formidable container garden.

One thing that still feels especially house-like, even compared to similar apartment homes of the era, is the small hallway through an archway by the fireplace, complete with built-in drawers on a far wall. This leads to the bathroom and the bedroom, which is on the larger side. A walk-in closet doubles as a laundry room, with plenty of hanging space and a stacked washer and dryer.

Considering Thiry spent most of his career designing landmark buildings and sought-after luxury homes, this is one of the lowest listing prices you’ll find for his work—although it’s still half a million dollars, of course.

Listing Fast Facts

2717 Franklin Ave E, Unit 202
Size: 733 square feet, 1 bedroom /1 bath
List Date: 10/19/2022
List Price: $500,000, $543/mo HOA
Listing Agents:
Kathryn Buchanan, Windermere

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