Oxbow is a place where diverse disciplines cross and collaborate—experimenting through art installations, performances, workshops, music, films, and lectures.
The center of Georgetown was once a small township called Oxbow, named for the meandering Duwamish River that surrounded it. Early residents recognized an opportunity, and quickly developed the area for its industrial uses. The 1910 annexation of Georgetown into Seattle and subsequent construction of a Seattle-Oxbow bridge followed, increasing connection and productivity in the neighborhood. Between 1913 and 1920, the Duwamish River was dredged and straightened, eradicating what once was Oxbow, and making way for Seattle‘s growth.
Oxbow is an assemblage of three historical buildings whose shape was intensely influenced by the Washington-Oregon Railroad line (an industrial spur) which once cut completely through Georgetown, and terminated at the north edge of what is now Boeing Field (formerly Meadows Race Track ).
The "triangle" building at 6124 12th Ave South is reported to have been built in 1922, with Peter Scalzo's White Star barber shop on the ground floor, and a small living quarters above it. In 1928, a small, single-story brick office building was built across the railroad track to the east (faces Bailey St). This structure housed the original offices of G. Porcella & Co.
The following year, the company expanded with a garage building for delivery trucks. In the late 1930s, there was a period when the site housed two car dealerships. In 1941 there was an addition made to the original office building (extending into the exterior lot) since the industrial railroad spur had become inactive.
More information about the history of the Georgetown neighborhood can be uncovered at Friends of Georgetown History.
The Oxbow Redevelopment Project
In December of 2012, design/build company BEMA partnered with museum exhibit designer Belle & Wissell, Co. to purchase the property and begin to revitalize this important part of Georgetown. Redesign and construction efforts began shortly thereafter. Oxbow has been BEMA's most challenging (and rewarding) design/build project to date.
In collaboration with architect Jay Deguchi (Suyama Peterson Deguchi) and Hank Dufour Construction, BEMA has led and managed the complete transformation of the property.
Oxbow's founders are particularly motivated to be a part of Georgetown's new story. While the area is rich in history and architecture, it was a neglected (and forgotten) part of Seattle for many years.
Tony Lockwood has deep family roots in Georgetown, as early as the 1890s—with both the DeDonatos and the Corgiats.
Belle & Wissell's founder Gabe Kean also takes a long-term view on the future of Georgetown, as he built his design and technology business a block away, in the Julius Horton Building—Belle & Wissell's first studio space in 2004. Previously, Gabe had founded and directed a 501(c)3 non-profit organization called Born Magazine, which (similar to Oxbow) experimented with new types of collaboration between artists, writers, and others.
Oxbow is not the first collaboration between Lockwood & Sons and Belle & Wissell. In recent years, together they have designed and built a visitor center exhibit for the Seattle Central Library and a learning lounge gallery for the newly expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).