The last of Seattle’s iconic pink elephants could soon be leaving its perch.
The Elephant Car Wash in the Sodo neighborhood — the first of the local chain’s locations to open — is no more.
Elephant Car Wash did not respond to requests for comment Thursday, but the location has been removed from the company’s website. Leavitt Capital Companies, which manages the building on Fourth Avenue, confirmed the carwash’s lease ended on July 31.
The two iconic signs from Elephant Car Wash’s downtown branch on Battery Street were taken down after the site permanently closed last year.
Those signs were donated to the Museum of History & Industry in South Lake Union and Amazon. They are currently being restored at signage shop Western Neon, which coincidentally is located opposite the carwash.
It’s unclear for now what Sodo’s pink pachyderm’s fate will be, or whether it will join its compatriots across the street. The building has been cleared out, but Leavitt Capital Companies could not confirm plans for the future of the location or the sign.
“At this particular point in time we’re evaluating all options,” said Jamie Traeger, senior vice president of Leavitt Capital Companies.
The Elephant Car Wash was the first automatic carwash in Washington. Its distinctive neon signs, designed by prolific Seattle artist and “Queen of Neon” Beatrice Haverfield, have been one of the quirkier staples among Seattle’s landmarks for the past 70 years.
“It was a landmark when [people] came down Highway 99,” said Dylan Neuwirth, Western Neon’s creative director, referring to the signs removed from Battery Street last year. “When they came to the city, they would go to the pink elephant.”
While the signs on Battery Street were the most well-known, the Sodo Elephant Car Wash was the first branch to open in 1951, five years before the downtown site.
“They’re all part of the same fabric,” Neuwirth said. “It’ll be a shame to see that one go too.”
Unlike the Battery Street Elephant Car Wash, the closure in Sodo appears to have happened pretty quickly, and quietly. Cynthia Brothers, who runs the local blog Vanishing Seattle, only discovered it was closed when she pulled up to get her car washed Wednesday and found trucks clearing out the building.
“It took me a minute to realize that it was actually shut down,” she said. “It seems like a lot of people didn’t know about it. Folks had gone pretty recently.”
Brothers hopes Elephant Car Wash can return somewhere in Seattle, or at least that the community will rally again to ensure the sign can be preserved as a public landmark. Last year, neighborhood groups protested the decision to donate one of the Battery Street signs to the Museum of History & Industry. Amazon’s receipt of the other sign also disappointed some, including Brothers.
Elephant Car Wash still runs 15 carwash locations, according to its website, including branches in Federal Way, Burien and Bellevue. But for now, it looks like the last pink elephant in Seattle will need a new home.
“I basically just don’t want it to go quietly into the night,” Brothers said. “I would like it to live on, somehow.”