Audio on this page read by Ashley Harrison
Washington Hall was built in 1908 and in continuous use from that time until the early 2000s.
Like the Louisa Hotel, Washington Hall did not appear in the Green Book but is a great example of a revitalization project which links past with present and uses a historic resource to meet present-day needs.
The Hall was originally built by the Danish Brotherhood in America to serve as a community center; it was also available to rent and for many decades served as a hub for dances, concerts, and social events.
As described by Zola Mumford for HistoryLink.org, "Part of Washington Hall's appeal to renters was its combination of convenient location; a large, high-ceilinged dance hall with a fine wood floor, balcony, and abundant natural light; and smaller rooms such as the library that were suitable for meetings... One factor may have been the most important of all: Washington Hall differed significantly from many Seattle venues in that it was accessible to people from ethnic groups affected by de facto racial segregation. Rental records and minutes from Lodge meetings indicate that the Danish Brotherhood's practice of renting to a wide variety of ethnic, religious, and political organizations changed little over several decades."
One of those dances was a June 10, 1918, Grand Benefit Ball for the N.A.A.C.P featuring the Lillian Smith Jazz Band, the first documented performance by a local jazz band in Seattle. Over the years, Washington Hall hosted many musical superstars, including Billie Holiday, Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson and Jimi Hendrix.
Seattle theater organization On The Boards also had its first home at Washington Hall, residing there from 1978 - 1998.
It was fully restored and reopened in 2016. Today, Washington Hall is home to several small organizations, including Cypher Cafe, 206 Zulu, and Voices Rising. Several performance spaces can be rented for community events.
This is the final stop of the tour. Thanks so much for joining us!
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We also ask that you consider making a one-time contribution to support our launch in 2023: the new Black & Tan Hall at 5608 Rainier Ave South hopes to open its doors and welcome you all very soon!
If you enjoy this tour, please consider making a one-time contribution to help us open our doors in 2023 at 5608 Rainier Ave S., Seattle!