Gay-chitecture: When there's something about a building--or house or architectural icon--that pushes past the utilitarian, but isn't screamingly queer or kitschy. And no water towers or smokestacks, please. Gaychitecture isn't flamboyant. It takes accepted design idioms then delivers them with an extra raised eyebrow of inflection. And so our list begins:
6. St. Paul's Episcopal Church Well, for starters, it's Episcopal--say no more. But it's also like a tiki lounge. Just look at the roof--it screams South Pacific and organ music. It's like going to worship at Trader Vic's. You get umbrella drinks and communion wafers. Rodgers and Hammerstein sung in the original Latin. ("I'm Gonna Wash That Sin Right Out of My Hair.") And instead of the Virgin Mary? Mitzi Gaynor.
4. El Monterey It's like a little bit of old Seville, smack in the middle of the U District. Now converted to condos, the 1928 Spanish Revival pile by E.J. Beardsley doesn't want to fit in with its humble neighbors (the old Safeco building, 60s breezeway apartments). It doesn't mingle. It doesn't stoop to that. El Monterey is strong, fuerte, defiant, full of Castilian pride. El Monterey is like Pedro, the boy you fell in love with on Ibizia, but who never loved you back.
3. Loveless Building Not because of the location, on Cap Hill off Broadway by the Harvard Exit. Simply because it's so precious, so exquisite, so jewel boxy in its delicate Tudor revival style. It's like a 1/32 scale architectural model. Full-size people shouldn't live inside its apartments or dine at Olivar inside; it's a place for dolls. (The 1930 structure was designed by local architect Arthur L. Loveless, 1873-1971.)
2. Egan House Crouched in the greenbelt between I-5 and Cap Hill is this bizarre-yet-compelling 1958 design by Robert Reichert (1922-1996). As SW has written before, Reichert was a Harley-riding maverick and outsider in Seattle's staid, tight-knit postwar architectural community. His one-off triangular design, now owned and rented out by Historic Seattle, makes concessions to absolutely no one. It's as angular as all get-out, wildly impractical, and it doesn't care what you think. You want closets, counter space, a washer-dryer and room for the dogs--well then move to the goddamn suburbs, why don't you? Love me, says Egan House, but only on my own terms.
1. The Coliseum Theater Once a proud, glamorous movie palace, built in 1915 at the corner of Fith and Pike, this majestic old lady gradually faded during the '80s. Its screen, in a sense, was too large for the diminished stars of the VHS era--Tom Cruise and company. (How did Norma Desmond put it in Sunset Blvd.?) The place opened in 1916 with C.B. DeMille's The Cheat and closed in 1990 with Tremors. And today? Perfect: it's a Banana Republic.