Washington Hall Seattle Photo: Historic Seattle

In 2009, Historic Seattle purchased a beloved community space in Central District in hopes of restoring it to sustainable conditions. For decades, Washington Hall has been home to a diverse population of musicians, artists and community organizers. But in most recent years, the 107-year-old building has shown its age.

Originally commissioned in 1908 by Victor Voorhees and Hans Pederson for the Danish Brotherhood of America, the dance hall and event space was a first stop for many Scandinavian immigrants in search of a home in Seattle.

Danish Group Washington Hall Seattle Photo: Danish group

Decades later, Washington Hall continued to be a gathering place for the Central District. In the early 1940’s, Seattle’s Jewish, Black, Filipino and East African populations were welcomed into the space when much of the city refused their patronage.

Legendary musicians Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Oscar Holden and Mahalia Jackson performed at Washington Hall.

Washington Hall Seattle 1 Photo: Washington Hall/Facebook

To combat building deterioration, local preservation group Historic Seattle is currently overseeing a three-phase renovation project with the help of art centered non-profit 4Culture. The groups have raised money and received funding for the $9.9 million, multi-year rehabilitation efforts.

The Washington Hall website states the overall project will “serve as a home for community arts, heritage, and cultural organizations while also continuing to serve a wide array of performance and community events through a robust rental program.”

The first two phases provided stabilization and upgrades that allowed the building to be rented and used as office space. Now in the $6.8 million third phase, Washington Hall will soon build its very first elevator. Other updates will include restored interior finishes as well as work on the Lodge Room and seismic retrofitting.

This final phase is becoming reality with the help of Ron Wright & Associates/Architects, Coughlin Porter Lundeen and Lydig Construction. This phase is scheduled for completion in 2016, when Washington Hall will once again open its doors to the community.

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