AKA: Sons of Norway, Leif Erikson Lodge #1, and Daughters of Norway, Valkyrien Lodge #1, Hall #1, Belltown, Seattle, WA; Cornish College of the Arts, Raisbeck, James and Sherry, Performance Hall, Belltown, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Mahlum Architects, Incorporated (firm); Sonnichsen, Sonke Engelhart, Engineer (firm); Edward Kristian Mahlum (architect); Sonke Engelhard Sonnichsen (architect)

Dates: constructed 1914-1915

2 stories, total floor area: 7,940 sq. ft.

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2015 Boren Avenue
Belltown, Seattle, WA 98121-2702

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This fraternal hall served Seattle's numerous men and women of Norwegian descent, many of whom migrated to the Pacific Northwest during the last quarter of the nineteenth and first decades of the twentieth centuries to work in the region's growing timber and fishing industries. The Sons and Daughters of Norway Hall opened on 05/17/1915, Norwegian Constitution Day, a day first celebrated in 1814 during the tail end of the Napoleonic Wars when Norwegians first asserted their independence from Danish and Swedish domination.

Building History

With its carved ornamentation and shallowly-pitched gable roof, this meeting hall for the Sons of Norway, Leif Erikson Lodge #1, and its allied Valkyrien Lodge #1, Daughters of Norway, recalled Scandinavian long houses of a much earlier era. Sonke Engelhart Sonnichsen (1878-1961), himself a recent transplant from Norway, designed the hall and supervised its construction in 1915. Here, Sonnichsen recalled the traditional stave vernacular architecture of his homeland, which was becoming reappraised at this time during the period of National Romanticism across Europe but particularly in Scandinavia. National Romanticism was a wholesale revival and reinterpretation of various medieval building traditions, both large-scale and residential, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It arose as international economic competition intensified during the the period, triggering the mass migration of Scandinavians to places of greater economic opportunity, particularly the United States. In response, those that chose to remain in Scandinavia, began to study and scrutinize aspects of their traditional folk cultures, trying to refine, enhance, celebrate and to some extent, market, what it meant to be a Norwegian, a Swede, Dane, or a Finn.

The Sons and Daughters of Norway sold the property in 1948 and moved to a new building (dedicated on 04/01/1951) in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood, known as "Norway Center" at 300 3rd Avenue West. Thereafter, the Belltown Sons of Norway Hall served as a dance hall, several discotheques, a gay club, and most recently a performing arts space. (Thank you to Christine Anderson, Historian of the Leif Erikson Lodge 2-001, for information correcting inaccuracies in an earlier PCAD entry on the Sons of Norway Hall, in an email of 12/27/2018.)

This first Norway Hall had a residential character, resembling a contemporary American bungalow. This home-like appearance was appropriate for an immigrant group settling in a new country. The building also recalled the vernacular, wood-frame, stav buildings of Norway, such as medieval lofthus (loft dwellings) and stabbur(food storage buildings) used by rural families. Most traditionally Norwegian were the turned posts and carved dragons found at the apexes of two gables of the Seattle cultural center. Norway Hall #1 represented the synthesis of two cultures, combining decorative motifs, similar gable proportions and the elevated stance of the lofthus, while utilizing building methods and stylistic elements of the bungalow.

The Cornish College of the Arts purchased Norway Hall in 2002-2003 and transformed it into Raisbeck Performance Hall. The art school anticipated spending $66 million in the renovation of two new buildings it purchased c. 2007, the Sons of Norway Hall and the Volker/Lenora Square Building.

Building Notes

The Sons of Norway Hall #1 occupied a 13,950-square-foot, (0.32-acre) site, and contained 7,940 square feet in 2019.

As noted by historian Paul Dorpat in his article on the Sons of Norway Hall #1: "The architect’s brother, Yngvar, adorned the interior of Norway Hall with murals depicting several sagas of Norse history, including the discovery of Vinland – North America – by the lodge’s namesake, Leif Erikson, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus reached The Bahamas." (See Paul Dorpat, Pauldorpat.com, "Seattle Now & Then: Norway Hall," published 05/29/2015, accessed 08/26/2021.)


Mahlum Architects were hired by Cornish College c. 2007 to renovate the Sons of Norway Hall and the nearby Lenora Square Building for its new South Lake Union Campus.

The Sons of Norway Hall was threatened by demolition in 1972.