2008 Washington State Endangered Historic Properties — Seattle's Washington Hall

On May 27, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation representatives were in Tacoma to announce its annual list of Washington State’s Most Endangered Historic Places. The list dates back to 1992, and aims to raise awareness of historic properties that face demolition by redevelopment or neglect. Over the past 16 years, according to the organization, Washington Trust has placed nearly 100 threatened sites nominated by concerned citizens and organizations across the state. The organization also assists historic preservation advocates in developing strategies aimed at removing these threats.

This year’s list was presented during a press conference on the bridge deck of the 95-year-old Murray Morgan Bridge, which was one of seven endangered historic properties for 2008.

Beginning yesterday, the Index has published a profile of each endangered property, as compiled by the Washington Trust.

Here is what the Washington Trust had to say about Washington Hall in Seattle.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Built in 1908 by the Danish Brotherhood, Washington Hall first served as a settlement house and a fraternal hall, connecting Danish immigrants with tools for starting anew in America and keeping them linked to their social and artistic heritage. From the 1910s, the hall also hosted other populations in Seattle’s Central District, including African American, Jewish, Filipino, Japanese, Croatian, Korean, and Ethiopian. Since 1973, it has served as the headquarters for the Sons of Haiti, an African-American Masonic lodge. Over the years, entertainers and artists such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, and Jimi Hendrix have appeared at Washington Hall. The building also has architectural significance as the only known fraternal hall designed by prolific Seattle architect Victor Voorhees.

Facing increased maintenance costs the Sons of Haiti have recently put the property on the market. With zoning allowing a dense residential development, it is feared that developers will wish to acquire the property to demolish the building and put up condominiums. Given the significant degree of deferred maintenance the building faces, it will take a dedicated preservationist to step forward and find a compatible new program for the building in order to keep its legacy alive, as the purchase price reflects the value of the land. Sale to the wrong buyer could easily result in the loss of this highly significant property.

For more information, visit http://www.wa-trust.org .