The Washington Hall – A welcoming space for immigrants to Seattle

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Washington Hall was built in 1908, and designed by Victor W. Voorhees. Commissioned by the Danish Brotherhood of Seattle, it was the architect’s first large project in a career that would eventually span 25 years and over a hundred buildings in the city. The Hall was created to serve as a lodge for the Brotherhood, as well as a dance hall and performance space. In addition, the back of the Hall was a lodging house intended for new immigrants to the city. The Mission style building boasted comforts of a bygone era: the plans include a billiards room, smoking rooms, a parlor, library, and a ladies dressing rooms. It also uses an interesting architectural feature to illuminate called a light well, which was an open shaft flanked by windows in the center of the lodging area.

Courtesy of Special Collections UW

For more than a century, the Washington Hall hosted a variety of people and events. The Danish Brotherhood sponsored plays, dances, and lectures for the community. A particularly compelling speaker was a member of the Danish Resistance during WWII whom shared his experiences in 1946. Multiple fraternal orders, ladies societies, ethnic groups and religious organizations held functions at the Washington Hall from its earliest days. Italians, African American veterans, Serbians, and Druids are just a few examples of the diverse crowds that enjoyed the Hall. Musical greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Domino, and Duke Ellington also performed on the Washington Hall’s stage.

The Washington Hall was sold in the 1970’s and was leased to various organizations. Most notably the religious cult Children of God occupied the building for a couple years, using it as their base in Seattle. Since 2008, the Washington Hall was taken over by Historic Seattle, extensively renovated, and now is on the National Register of Historic Places.


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