Historic Seattle threw open the doors of Washington Hall and treated AKCHO members to a behind-the-scenes tour of the storied venue as part of AKCHO’s monthly meeting on March 26. Historic Seattle’s Director of Preservation Services Eugenia Woo and Membership Coordinator Dana Phelan led some three dozen AKCHO members through the facility, which started out as the lodge, settlement house, and social center for the Danish Brotherhood in 1908, and over ensuing decades served as a performance space that saw the likes of Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, and the On the Boards dance troupe.
After a century of continuous use, the hall had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of demolition before Historic Seattle stepped in to acquire the structure from the African American Masonic Lodge in 2009. Preliminary improvements included rebuilding the south exterior wall of the building, and making interior repairs to make the building safe for use. Upcoming projects will include seismic retrofit, ADA compliance and elevator addition, restoration of windows and doors, and renovation of interior spaces and finishes.
Historic Seattle’s aim is to make Washington Hall a secure and comfortable place for people to gather once again for arts, social and cultural events, providing affordable rental space for a wide range of users.
Also at the meeting, 4Culture’s Eric Taylor, Flo Lentz, and Charlie Rathbun gave a show-and-tell demonstration of the Historic Site-Specific program, which launched last year and is kicking off its debut season this spring. Eleven sites from around King County will be interpreted by artists and arts organizations to provide audiences with a new perspective on some of the places that were integral to this region’s past. Among them are a commemoration of the Sammamish Slough Boat Races (April 7), a series of jazz/spoken word performances honoring jazz pianist Oscar Holden at the Panama Hotel, and a staging of material selected from the Jewish Archives at the University of Washington Special Collections and interpreted by Book-It Repertory Theatre at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. For the full list of 2013 Site-Specific Projects, click here.
And once again this spring, historic sites and designated landmarks are invited to petition for inclusion in the 2014 Historic Site-Specific series (deadline May 15).