My father, Hans Pederson built Seattle’s Washington Hall in 1908 as a community center for the Danish brotherhood. One block from historic Yessler Way, Washington Hall offered housing and social space to Danish immigrants, who arrived in droves early in the 20th century.
They required housing while they mastered the English language and customs of the American Northwest. Then they were placed in jobs and began new American lives.
Wikipedia notes that Washington Hall continues to be a melting pot a century later. For 100 years the building sheltered immigrants from Denmark, Mexico, Puerto Rico,and Brazil. Its stage and dance hall brought such outstanding speakers and performers as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday and Jimi Hendrix.
The building gradually fell into disrepair. Historic Seattle purchased Washington Hall in 2009. The group tirelessly raised 10 million dollars to restore the building. Their reopening celebration took place on June 1, 2016 jointly hosted by their anchor partners. 206 Zulu celebrates Hip Hop, HIDMO is relaunching community space along with Eritrean food, and Voices Rising is an LGBT musical group of color.
Today’s headlong rush to obliterate the old and replace it with the new ignores the contributions of our past. Historic societies large and small keep our heritage alive by preserving both the wisdom of bygone days, and the changing contemporary culture.
Historic Seattle’s mission is: Educate, Advocate, Preserve.