On Wednesday, June 1, Historic Seattle will mark the reopening of Washington Hall with a free celebration hosted in conjunction with anchor partner organizations 206 Zulu, Hidmo, and Voices Rising. From 5:00—8:00 pm, all are invited to visit the newly restored Hall and enjoy music and light refreshments.
“Washington Hall has served a cross-section of citizens for more than 100 years, and we are proud to have successfully restored this beloved building so that it can continue to meet the needs of the community and provide a home for arts and culture,” says Historic Seattle’s Executive Director, Kji Kelly.
Built in 1908 for the Danish Brotherhood, Washington Hall originally served as a fraternal lodge, settlement house, and center for social and cultural activities of Seattle’s Danish immigrant population. Over time the Hall became a hub for social and cultural activities reflecting a broad array of ethnic communities. This is a building that many have called home, as it served as an affordable rental facility and hub for activities within the local Jewish, Filipino, African American, Korean, Eritrean, Ethiopian and other communities.
Washington Hall has also served as a popular performing arts venue, hosting musicians and speakers such as Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Jimi Hendrix, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and Joe Louis. Many of these events were held at Washington Hall because it was the only venue of significant capacity in Seattle that would allow people of color to perform.
Although the Hall had consistently been used as a performance space since its construction, it had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of demolition before Historic Seattle negotiated a purchase in June 2009, with help from 4Culture. Since acquiring the building, Historic Seattle has conducted a 7-year campaign totaling nearly $10 million to finance four phases of construction. This campaign culminated in November 2015 with a King County Building for Culture grant to fully fund the recently completed final phase of construction.
Upon the reopening of Washington Hall, the anchor partner organizations will manage its operations and continuing use, and will ensure that the “Hall for All” continues to serve the Central District community’s needs for performance, gathering, and meeting spaces. Historic Seattle will retain ownership of the property and ensure its long-term maintenance and stewardship. This self-sustaining operating model guarantees that Washington Hall will be a vibrant, affordable, diverse arts and cultural facility that serves Seattle and King County’s arts, heritage, and preservation communities.
Following the June 1 opening celebration, this summer will see all kinds of performances and events at Washington Hall! Mark your calendar for this month’s happenings:
Jazz Intoxication with HistoryLink
Friday, June 10, 7:00—10:00 pm
Relive the first documented jazz performance in Washington state, exactly 98 years later in the place where it happened!
King Khazm: Diaries of a MAD
Friday, June 17, 8:00 pm
Hip Hop emcee and producer King Khazm presents a double album release and theatrical interpretation of how a bi-racial, disabled youth was able to overcome challenges in Seattle’s Southend.