Tech powered Optimism Brewing is the new king of beers on Capitol Hill

Optimism Brewing - 24 of 24
Optimism Brewing - 4 of 24The ultimate home brew fantasy has come to life at the corner of Broadway and Union. After spending years at Microsoft then striking it big with an online venture of their own, husband and wife Troy Hakala and Gay Gilmore have gone all in with their first non-tech venture overhauling a $6.5 million auto-row era building on Capitol Hill at Broadway and Union.

“We decided we didn’t want to do software, we wanted to do something we could see,” said Gilmore. “We just ran out of reasons to not do a brewery.”

The result is Optimism Brewing, a 16,000 square-foot brewery designed by Olson Kundig Architects that will create a major destination on rapidly changing E Union and give Capitol Hill its second cathedral of beverage. Optimism combines Hakala’s longtime passion for home brewing beer, the couple’s penchant for analytical tinkering, and a generous dash of entrepreneurial risk taking.

Optimism will hold its grand opening on Saturday, December 5th to coincide with the anniversary of the end of Prohibition. The brewery will start out slow with limited hours and days of operation. Check for details.

The new brewery also will give Capitol Hill a new leader in independent beer brewing following 2014’s takeover of Hill-born Elysian Brewing by global beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev that split the Seattle beer community — and Elysian’s founders.

Since CHS first reported on Optimism in 2013, Hakala and Gilmore stayed relatively quiet on their bubbly vision for a “brewery, not a beer pub.” It’s a vision that has now materialized on multiple fronts.Optimism Brewing - 19 of 24 Continue reading

Your post-Thanksgiving 2015 Capitol Hill briefing

Thanks to a CHS reader for this picture of QFC's new Harvard Market hours

Thanks to a CHS reader for this picture of QFC’s new Harvard Market hours

Here is the news you may have missed during the holiday week.

Broadway/Pike shooting investigation: No arrests have been announced in the Sunday, November 22nd shooting that hit four victims and injured a fifth in the middle of Pike/Pine nightlife crowds outside the Harvard Market QFC. Police were looking for a silver sedan used in the drive-by that was caught on video. Seattle Fire said none of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries but one woman who was shot posted to Facebook saying that a bullet and glass entered her chest.

Mayor Ed Murray and East Precinct commander Capt. Paul McDonagh talked to community representative and members of the neighborhood chamber of commerce about the shootings, the emphasis patrols, ongoing gun violence across Central Seattle, and new tools coming to Capitol Hill in 2016 to free more time for cops to focus on policing while moving more drug and mental health issues toward services and programs. Continue reading

Capitol Retrospective | The Bluff Building: A lesson in escapism at 10th and Pike

The Bluff Building.  Oct. 2015.  Photo by Tom Heuser.

The Bluff Building. Oct. 2015. (Image: Tom Heuser)

On May 29, 1889 the graduating class of MIT in Boston gathered in Huntington Hall to hear the commencement speech of the renowned reverend Phillips Brooks. Towering over them at 6’3” and 300 pounds, he thundered “the water of the river is at first distinct and separate from the sea, but with time… is embodied into one vast whole; and so… will your course in life pass away until nothing but the knowledge that something of new good and of new strength has been added to the world will remain.” A straightforward metaphor for life, death, and the contributions one leaves behind, but who was to say one couldn’t take their existing course, cast it into the void, and anonymously reemerge on a distinctly new one all in a single lifetime?

Huntington Hall, MIT. Estimated early 20th century. Image: MIT

Huntington Hall, MIT. Estimated early 20th century. Image: MIT

Reverend Phillips Brooks circa 1891

Reverend Phillips Brooks circa 1891

One of the graduates that day, named Charles Dodge, eventually believed exactly that and it led him to Seattle where he ran off with his mistress 13 years later. Together they established a considerable real-estate empire that included the land on which the Bluff Building stood at the northwest corner of 10th and Pike: home of the Comet Tavern since the early 1950s. Even here, Dodge’s ethos of escapism has endured in one form or another through its well documented history as a popular dive bar and music venue where many have gathered to escape everyday life through loud music, alcohol, and often illegal drugs. But long before Nirvana performed there in 1988, the whole building was a hub for many who shared Dodge’s outlook on life.

His life began in Skowhegan, Maine where Charles Benjamin Dodge was born on July 13, 1867 to Benjamin Franklin Dodge, a harness maker turned banker, and his wife Jane Philbrick. After earning his degree in the since discontinued “general course” at MIT, Charles joined the ranks of Boston real-estate brokers working for the New

The red arrow points to the estimated location of the New England Real Estate Agency.  Circa 1906. Image: Shorpy

The red arrow points to the estimated location of the New England Real Estate Agency. Circa 1906. Image: Shorpy

England Real Estate Agency at 258 Washington St. Here he amassed considerable wealth over the next decade during which he met and married the highly-cultured and progressive Willietta Johnson in 1893 who was an active suffragette and world traveler. They reared two daughters, Dorothy and Katherine, and lived together on a 30 acre farm in Concord where the Revolutionary War began. A seemingly happy life from an outsider’s perspective, which it very likely may have been.

However, by 1901 that all changed after Charles had fallen in love with another woman named Annie MacConnell who positively dazzled him with her compassion, ideals, and youthful beauty (she was 10 years younger) and so much so that they ran away together later that year and reappeared in Seattle in early 1902. No lengthy divorce or custody battle, nothing. So what happened?

One can speculate that Charles must have been deeply conflicted, ashamed, and fearful of the consequences. He really did have a lot going for him, but perhaps there was just an element of banality and resignation to it all. For one can imagine that his career and Concord estate were effectively handed to him by his parents–and perhaps his wife, while certainly dazzling in her own right, was a bit too strong and intimidating for him, such that he feared she’d destroy him in a divorce. So what did he do? Continue reading

This week in CHS history | Harvard Exit closure, Starbucks Roastery debut, Volunteer Park coyote

8446822384_783d5da87f_oHere are the top stories from this week in CHS history:

Black Lives Matter protest mixes with tree lighting celebration in downtown Seattle

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Thousands of revelers including Black Lives Matter protesters and celebrants enjoying the lighting of downtown Christmas tree filled the area around Westlake Friday in what appears to be a new Seattle Black Friday tradition.

In 2014, at the height of protests about the Michael Brown case and Ferguson, Missouri, a large group of demonstrators disrupted the lighting ceremony, marched through Westlake Mall, and eventually clashed with police who fought to push the group to disperse up Capitol Hill.

IMG_3089IMG_3852In 2015, the protest was a much more controlled affair with Seattle Police responding with large contingents of officers to move the demonstrators around downtown streets and to the edges of the tree lighting ceremony’s festivities. The groups were able to enter the downtown Macy’s and a Forever 21 store but were stopped by police and mall security from entering Westlake or Pacific Place in significant numbers.

2015 also brought a grand finale of sorts for the protest as a fleet of balloons carrying protest messages accompanied the tree ceremony’s fireworks.

Protest crowd estimates varied from around 200 to 400 though the afternoon and evening demonstrations. Police said there were four arrests:

Hundreds of peaceful demonstrators took to the streets and protested peacefully.

However, officers did respond to isolated skirmishes outside of Westlake Center and Pacific Place, resulting in minor property damage and the arrest of four people. In one case, a bicycle officer dislocated his shoulder when people in the crowd interfered with an arrest outside of Pacific Place. The officer was transported to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment.


Where to get your Capitol Hill Christmas tree: 26 years at the Dunshee House


IMG_1567 IMG_1573The Seattle Area Support Groups and Community Center is ready to leave 17th Ave behind and make a move into new offices on 15th Ave E. But after 26 years, one Capitol Hill tradition centered around the Dunshee House is around for at least one more holiday season.

Friday, SASG’s annual tree lot opened for its 26th season. You can buy trees, wreaths, and garlands that benefit the nonprofit dedicated to building communities around HIV issues and other recovery assistance like addiction.

The tree lot is located at 303 17th Ave E and open from 9 AM to 9 PM daily through December 23rd. You can learn more here.

A new use for Capitol Hill parks: preschools

Outdoor preschool? In muddy public parks across rainy Seattle? It seems like that’s going to be a preschool option for local parents in 2016. Tiny Trees, a budding local start-up outdoor preschool, received a letter this fall from the Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre confirming that the department would permit the nonprofit to run six outdoor preschool programs in city parks as a pilot project by September 2016.

Tiny Trees CEO Andrew Jay was, of course, thrilled at the news. After winning a $15,000 grant in 2014 through the Social Venture Partner’s Fast Pitch Competition for Best Non-Profit Start-Up and pitching the concept to superintendent Aguirre back in September, the Scandinavian model of outdoor preschool could soon come to city parks across Seattle. There is already one outdoor preschool operating out of the University of Washington Arboretum called Fiddleheads, which Jay says is one “inspiration” for Tiny Trees.

The touted upsides of outdoor preschool range from its cost savings — not having to pay for a facility saves a chunk of change — allowing for more investment in preschool teachers and discounts for middle and low income families, in addition to benefits of holding play and nature-based classes in stimulating outdoor green space. Continue reading

CHS Re:Take | Electric cars to Capitol Hill, 1901 — waiting just a little longer for the FH Streetcar

Looking south on 15th Ave East from Mercer Street. Old photo from Washington State Archives, Metro collection, LS0018.

Looking south on 15th Ave East from Mercer Street. Old photo from Washington State Archives, Metro collection, LS0018. I think it’s 1913.

Last month I threw down the gauntlet: a new chapter in the history of neighborhood streetcar service each month until the First Hill streetcar opens. This is month number two. Will we make it to three?

This month, we’re looking at a legit Capitol Hill streetcar: the destination placard actually says Capitol Hill on it. This line to James Moore’s new neighborhood opened on November 17, 1901. There was service on Broadway a decade earlier (read the Re:Take about it here), but Capitol Hill didn’t exist yet (read the Re:Take about it here) and it was one of many independently operated routes in the city. In 1899 and 1900 Seattle Electric Company took control of almost every line, and the Capitol Hill line became one of their first newly constructed streetcars.

Moore described service in a big advertisement before opening day, “The new line opens tomorrow morning for the special accommodation of the best residence district in Seattle”. Initially it started at the bottom of Second Avenue and traveled up to Pike Street, then on Pike to Fifteenth, and Fifteenth to Volunteer Park (then City Park). Cars ran every 12 minutes each way, only taking a break from just after midnight to 6 a.m. Later the cars were switched to Pine Street, the same route that Metro’s #10 trolley bus takes today. Continue reading

Africatown celebrates first ever Central District Winter Arts and Soul Fest

1 (4)As plans move forward for creating a new Central Area Arts District to celebrate the area as a hub for black art, business, and community, one of the groups looking to help preserve and grow the area’s economic and cultural assets will hold the first edition of what it hopes will become an annual event.

The first Africatown Central District Winter Arts and Soul Fest is underway:

Friday, Nov. 27th

  • Black Friday Concert & Marketplace featuring Owuor Arunga & Friends. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S. Market Place opens at 12 noon. Doors for concert open at 6:30pm.

Saturday, Nov. 28th

  • Africatown Small Business Saturday Marketplace at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S.

  • Opening of Black Dot Cultural Innovation Space @ Midtown Center, 1160 23rd Ave

  • 4th Annual Dancehall Reunion Bash @ Eritrean Hall, 1954 S. Massachusetts St.

Continue reading

Shop local, shop the Hill

1450973_759900357357854_1816493941_nWe’re once again keeping track of local gift ideas and deals from Capitol Hill area merchants at

You can let us know about your favorite shops here via Facebook and we’ll try add regular updates to share through the holidays.

If you’re looking to also spread joy to the needy and less fortunate, here are 2015 donation drives, feed the hungry, and volunteer opportunities around Capitol Hill.

Continue reading