After decades of believing that Danish immigrant Hans Pederson left us penniless, I uncover the truth about my father’s wealth and prolific contributions to Seattle. I discover my mysterious father’s boom to bust life in the early 1900s as I grapple with family secrets and deception in my recently published memoir, Mysterious Builder of Seattle Landmarks Searching for My Father.
100 years later, Hans Pederson’s legacy continues to grow. The Roy Vue apartments have just been designated the seventh Seattle Landmarks building constructed by Hans Pederson. His last-named landmark was Washington Hall, the 1908 building that 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 performers as Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Du Bois, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Jimi Hendrix.
Historic Seattle purchased Washington Hall in 2009. After raising $15,000,000 to restore the building, it reopened in 2016 jointly hosted by anchor partners 206 Zulu celebrating Hip Hop, HIDMO relaunching community space, and Voices Rising an LGBT musical group of color.
Today’s headlong rush to obliterate the old ignores the contributions of our past. Historic societies keep our heritage alive by preserving both the wisdom of bygone days and the changing contemporary culture.