AKA: Danish Brotherhood Society Building, Washington Hall, Central District, Seattle, WA; Sons of Haiti Hall, Central District, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures

Designers: Pederson, Hans, Building Contractor (firm); Voorhees, Victor W., Architect (firm); Hans Pederson Sr. (building contractor); Victor Wilber Voorhees Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1908

153 14th Avenue
First Hill, Seattle, WA 98122-5556

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14th Avenue at East Fir Street.

Architect Victor W. Voorhees designed this building for the fraternal group, the Danish Brotherhood in America. It served as a settlement house for Danish male immigrants originally. This building played an important part in Seattle's African-American history; black performers performed here when they were unable to book larger, segregated night clubs, ballrooms, and auditoria. The list included Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Domino, James Brown, Cab Calloway, Jimi Hendrix and the great orator, Dr. Martin Luther King. The Sons of Haiti, an African-American fraternal organization, bought the building in 1973, for $50,000, and sought to sell it to the highest bidder in 2008, hoping to raise $2-2.5 million. (It had been for sale as far back as 05/2007.) (They hoped to put the money into the renovation of a newer clubhouse in Renton, WA.) DKA Architecture hoped to purchase the building in order to demolish it for condominiums. As was typical in Seattle at this time, developers thought that the building had little value and could be commemorated fittingly with a plaque. The Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas wanted to collaborate with Historic Seattle to buy the historic structure and renovate it for use as its offices. The City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board considered the designation of the Washington Hall of Danish Brotherhood Building as a City of Seattle Historic Landmark on 01/07/2009

The building had a Northern European scalloped parapet (perhaps Danish in origin) and stucco front facade. (Scalloped parapets, not greatly unlike this form, were common in Mission Revival Style buildings of the same period.) Over the years, various cultural and ethnic groups had used the hall to stage theatrical, musical and dance performances, prompting a Seattle Times reporter to call it "Seattle's Cultural Ellis Island."

It has been altered over the years, and was, in 2008, in poor repair. By 2010, according a newspaper report in the Seattle Times, $600,000 had been invested in renovating the hall's roof, heating unit, and bathroom facilities. It was one of 25 buildings in the Puget Sound Region to compete for a $1 million Partners in Preservation Grant supervised by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the American Express credit card company.

PCAD id: 5371