Capitol Hill theater company stages one final performance before move to 12th Ave Arts

Inside the future home of the Main Stage at 12th Ave Arts (Image: CHS)

Inside the future home of the Main Stage at 12th Ave Arts (Image: CHS)

Ali el-Gasseir's WET will be one of three theater groups resident in the new development (Image: CHS)

Ali el-Gasseir’s WET will be one of three theater groups resident in the new development (Image: CHS)

By Rayna Stackhouse with reporting by Justin Carder

Greg Carter and Strawberry Theatre Workshop aren’t about to get rich. But the company is putting on one last show on Capitol Hill the old-fashioned theatre way.

“Our industry doesn’t work very well in a capitalist model,” says Carter. “The rich get rich, while the poor get poorer.”

While the city’s behemoth performance and arts organizations like Seattle Opera have a full staff to raise money, sell tickets and can support and pay their performers, small theater companies around Capitol Hill typically barely scrape by. The money they make is mostly from tickets and booze, Carter says.

The 12th Ave Arts building, slated to open in early November, should help change that equation for Strawshop and its two companion theater companies, Washington Ensemble Theatre and New Century Theater Company, teaming up to form a new kind of arts organization resident in the new Capitol Hill Housing development.

Capitol Hill Housing and Black Box representatives were on hand this week for a “hard hat” tour of the new building. The $38 million, 29,000 square-foot 12th Ave Arts project is creating 88 affordable apartment units, office space, retail space and a theater facility above parking that will also be utilized by Seattle Police’s East Precinct.

The project is the result of a two-decade push from community groups and organizations to create something greater with the East Precinct parking lot that used to call the land home.

Capitol Hill Housing’s Michael Seiwerath said it was community pressure that finally moved the project through the mire at City Hall.

“These citizen volunteers went down there and said there’s a better use for this,” he said about the old, barbed wire-ringed police parking lot.

In a most unusual twist on the typical “mixed-use” development around the Hill, 12th Ave Arts will also have two fully tricked out, state of the art performance spaces totaling nearly 6,000 square feet: one with room for 149 seats, the other Studio Stage with an 80-person capacity. Hardcore theater geeks will nerd out at the catwalks above and sound suppression enveloping both venues. Continue reading

Happy Labor Day 2014


The burgers are free. So is the parking. Tip double. It’s Labor Day.

The Volunteer Park Wading marks its final day of the 2014 season (PDF). Metro is a on a “Sunday” schedule.

In Seattle, land of the worker, we’ll begin the long march to $15/hour minimum wage in the new year. Nothing can stop us… probably:

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman is asking the restaurant and lodging industries to pony up $1.1 million for a signature blitzkrieg that would put on the ballot an initiative to repeal Seattle’s new $15-an-hour minimum wage.

If you’re feeling the need for a Labor Day rally, head to Westlake.

Labor Day Rally at Westlake Plaza to be held on Monday September 1 2014.

SEATTLE – El Comité, the May 1st Action Coalition, and social justice advocates will hold a rally in support of the 11 million plus undocumented workers in the United States as well as the various workers across the country that are struggling for dignity and respect in the workplace. Event details are as follows: Continue reading

East Precinct’s 2014 picnic: free hot dogs, Hill crime spike concerns and larger questions around policing

Capt. Davis talks with East Precinct picnic attendees (Images: CHS)

Capt. Davis talks with East Precinct picnic attendees (Images: CHS)

IMG_9419Saturday’s annual East Precinct community picnic had a little more going on this year than just hot dogs. Held in Cal Anderson for the first time, the free hot dogs, information booths and chance to check out the bomb squad gear came as local Capitol Hill crime issues have come to a head again this summer and as larger issues around policing have emerged from the Ferguson protests.

East Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis was on hand along with top brass including Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Davis said questions about the militarization of police are worthy of debate but that the Seattle’s police force isn’t being armed by Homeland Security.IMG_9529

Chief O'Toole

Chief O’Toole

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A century of use for Capitol Hill’s Gilda’s Club building

Seattle writer and historian Dotty DeCoster has been nice enough to share many of her essays and reports with CHS over the years. She first published this piece in 2009 — we’ve updated it and are happy to share it with readers again as Gilda’s Club prepares for its first ever Red Door campaign.

By Dotty DeCoster
This story is about the building at 1400 Broadway (corner of Union) that is home to Gilda’s Club of Seattle. It is the only Greek Revival edifice in the immediate neighborhood, and the front doors are bright red. The outside of the building is much as it was when it was built in 1912 and Johnson & Hamilton moved up from First Avenue. Until 1965, the building was the Johnson & Hamilton funeral parlor.

Charles F. Johnson and his wife Sophia, and Frank Hamilton and his wife Crissie Rankin Hamilton came to Seattle from Fargo, North Dakota, and set up the third mortuary in Seattle at 2127 First Avenue in 1902. Apparently, the families had met in Fargo – the Hamiltons were originally from Ontario and the Johnsons from Minneapolis. It is likely that by 1911 the confusion and mess generated by the regrades downtown impelled Johnson & Hamilton to look for a new site for their business. 1400 Broadway was a vacant lot right on a streetcar line with a livery stable behind it (east) and automobile garages to the north and northeast. Architect Daniel Riggs Huntington designed the building and it appears likely that the builder was William W. Noyes.

Daniel R. Huntington, A.I.A., (1871-1962) had a long and distinguished architectural career in Seattle, including serving as City Architect for a time. He was also a distinguished painter. On Capitol Hill, in addition to the Johnson-Hamilton building, he designed Fire Station #7 at 402 15th Avenue E., the Rainier Chapter House of the Daughters of the American Revolution at 800 E. Roy, the Norcliffe Apartments at 1119 Boren, and his own residence at 1800 E. Shelby.

First known as undertakers, then as funeral parlors, finally as a funeral home, the Johnson & Hamilton business continued until the mid-1920s. Continue reading

One year ago this week on Capitol Hill

Here are the top CHS posts from this week in 2013:

  1. 1239913_669813809697469_1953256674_nWorld of Beer to collide with Capitol Hill
  2. Broadway bikeway gets paved above ground, light rails finished below
  3. Has Seattle ‘ratpocalypse’ spread to Capitol Hill?
  4. 21 marijuana stores planned for Seattle, 1,000-foot rule changed
  5. Heavy rains, slick roads forecasted after the most amazing Seattle summer ever*
  6. Look inside latest apartment building to hit Capitol Hill rental market, get a sneak peek at the next
  7. ‘Big Fun’ bar project slated for former Velo bike shop space
  8. Ahead of city’s quake readiness mandates, some Hill building owners fight, others get to work
  9. Central Co-op inks deal another five years at 16th and Madison

 

Be ready to enjoy the rare stink as Volunteer Park Conservatory’s corpse flower prepares to bloom

(Image: Friends of the Conservatory)

(Image: Friends of the Conservatory)

A rarefied stench in the air? There is expected to be one any day now at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Visitors over the next few weeks may have the chance to experience a rare botanical occurrence through multiple senses as one of the corpse flowers now on display at the Conservatory is blossoming and shooting upwards. The plant is expected to bloom and release an odor that has been described as “a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese” within the next two weeks.

Corpse flowers typically require seven to ten years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. This will be the first time the particular plant has bloomed since arriving in Capitol Hill in 2006, the Seattle PI reported, and the fist time any corpse flower has bloomed at the Conservatory since 2008, the Friends of the Conservatory group said.

Though CHS is not casting a prediction on precisely when the plant will bloom, the Conservatory’s “official spokescat” Ivan Von Katzen offered this forecast in a Facebook post Thursday:

Corpse Flower Watch: Our new buddy is on display at the Conservatory in the Bromeliad House and it grew an inch overnight! It now reaches 31″ and is growing fast! We anticipate the flower will be in full fragrant bloom within the next two weeks.Come take a look at this rare wonder Tuesday- Saturday [*Sunday] from 10:00 am – 3:00 PM – 1400 East Galer Street, Seattle WA — at Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Once the plant blooms, the supporting structure of its flowers, or the “spathe,” will likely only stay open for about 12 hours before starting to wilt, sources indicate, though some corpse flower spathes have been reported to stay open for one or two whole days.

Native to western Sumatra, the corpse flower is known as bunga bangkai (“corpse flower”) in Indonesian or by the Greek name Amorphophallus titanum, or more commonly titum arum. In addition to the particular odor it emits when blooming, the titum arum produces the largest non-branched “inflorescence,” or group of flowers, of any plant in the world. Friends of the Conservatory explains:

Once a blossom appears, the corpse flower grows rapidly and can reach a height of over 10-feet within the course of a few weeks.  It grows from a large tuber which can reach 150 pounds or more.

After its first bloom, the titum arum will typically bloom again after anywhere from another two to five years, to another seven to ten years, Friends of the Conservatory reported.

In addition to seeing one reaching bloom, you can also have a chance to win a 2-year-old titum arum of your own by coming up with a personal name for the blossoming corpse flower at the Conservatory. The “Name a Corpse Flower, Win a Corpse Flower” contest is on. Potential plant-namers can turn in their suggestions at the Conservatory, where entry forms are available at the gift shop, or via Twitter by sending their ideas to the spokescat — @Ivan_Von_Katzen.

The titum arum about to bloom at the Volunteer Park Conservatory was donated by the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse some eight years ago, the Seattle PI reported. It should soon be adding to a small pool of statistics: when a corpse flower bloomed at the conservatory in Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2013, only about 125 corpse flower blooms were said to have been documented worldwide since 1880.

The stench of corpse flower blooms do serve a purpose beyond generating sensational blog posts. The smell of rotting flesh emitted attracts insects such as the carrion-eating beetles and “flesh flies” that pollinate the plant in its natural habitats. Meanwhile, the flowers’ red color and their texture are said to add to the illusion that they are pieces of meat.

Something to chew on maybe if you make it to the Conservatory to check out the events now unfolding.

CHS Pics | This week in Capitol Hill pictures

The CHS Flickr Pool contains more than 18,000 19,000 20,000 21,000 22,000 photographs — most of Capitol Hill images, many glorious, some technically amazing. The pool is a mix of contributions from Capitol Hill — and nearby — shutterbugs. Interested in being part of it? If we like your photo and it helps us tell the story, we may feature it on CHS so please include your name and/or a link to your website so we can properly credit you. Interested in working as a paid CHS contributor for scheduled assignments? Drop us a line – our roster is full for general assignments but pitch us on an idea.
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CHS Pics | Lummi totem pole journey to oppose coal trains makes Capitol Hill stop

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_9149The Lummi Nation brought specially carved totem poles to Capitol Hill’s St. Mark’s Friday for a morning of blessing and prayer on a journey “all along the rail line from the Bakken oil fields and Powder River Basin coal mines, through the Salish Sea and up into Canada’s tar sands.”

Coal export, oil trains, and the toxic byproducts of fossil fuels threaten many tribal lands across the Americas. The Lummi Nation House of Tears carvers are creating a totem pole to raise up the voice of all threatened by fossil fuel transportation. They are journeying with this totem pole across the western United States and Canada to connect with local tribes, faith leaders, and environmental partners. The Lummi ask for blessing and protection of sacred lands and treaty rights, including their own ancestral village and treaty fishing waters at Cherry Point, WA.

The Seattle stop on the nation’s second totem pole journey brought out dignitaries including King County Executive Dow Constantine who spoke to the mix of St. Mark’s worshippers, environmentalists, and tribal members on hand for the event at the 10th Ave E cathedral.

You can learn more about the journey and the Lummi effort to oppose coal exports at totempolejourney.com.

That yellow helicopter over Capitol Hill

A tour promo shot (Image: Seattle Helicopter Tours)

A tour promo shot (Image: Seattle Helicopter Tours)

How has this never come up before? Of all the helicopter reports and questions we get — and we get a lot! — we’ve never come across the mystery of the yellow helicopter over Capitol Hill.

Until now.

If you noticed a disturbingly low flying chopper visiting Capitol Hill Friday morning, don’t worry. It wasn’t a crime issue or TV news covering a building fire.

Seattle Helicopter Tours says it was busy providing a trip for some people involved with this weekend’s PAX at the Convention Center. The company offers tours of the city “starting as low as $90.83.” Apparently, it’s a bigger deal in Ballard. We asked if we might see more flights today with the PAX marketing folks going full tilt but the representative told us she couldn’t say.

Capitol Hill newspaper publisher still making its bucks off mortgage meltdown

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 11.22.46 AMIt has been nearly three years since Bellevue-based RIM Publications and its parent company Northwest Trustee Services took over the remains of the weekly newspaper that covered Capitol Hill for decades and earned years of goodwill from the Hillers who remember their paper delivery routes and the nostalgia of simpler times. At the time, we called Northwest Trustee Services and RIM “a company built on the back of our region’s manifestations of the mortgage crisis.”

So, what are the people behind today’s Capitol Hill Times up to lately? Here is a recent piece posted by the Madison Park Times, another old-timey paper still making a go of it in the internet era:

This is how foreclosed Seattle homes are auctioned: in an underground parking garage setting more befitting drug deals. Northwest Trustee Services (NTS), which operates in eight Western states, handles 60 to 70 percent of all foreclosed homes in King County. Six years after the housing bubble burst, NTS still auctions 50 to 70 homes a month from Seattle alone.

Its building also houses Routh Crabtree Olsen, a legal firm that operates in the same eight states and represents both NTS and the banks that have seized the homes NTS auctions.

It’s a cozy, well-oiled machine for processing properties that, protesters allege, often have the same history of predatory practices and dubious paper trails that led to the 2008 bubble in the first place.

Full disclosure: The Madison Park paper is published by Pacific Publishing Co., the folks who sold off the Capitol Hill Times.

As the foreclosure business remains a profitable industry even with the late-payment rate in the nation dropping, some experts are predicting the country’s mortgage crisis is about to flare up again as “temporary relief measures and legacy issues from the crisis” come to a head in 2015. Expect a meatier free weekly in the future as the local foreclosure listings thicken up.

Capitol Hill gay bar R Place turns 30

(Images: Rayna Stackhouse for CHS)

(Images: Rayna Stackhouse for CHS)

_DSC0826R Place celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and, despite repeated concerns about the end of the Capitol Hill “gayborhood,”  business is better than ever.

“Seattle is just more gay popular and gay friendly. What used to be just a gay bar is not just a gay bar anymore,” said manager Floyd Lovelady.

Though the number of gay bars and clubs on the Hill has diminished, more people feel welcome at R Place, a “gay bar that is straight friendly,” Lovelady said. Continue reading

You can buy Capitol Hill’s Chop Suey for $99,950

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A peek inside from the Chop Suey real estate listing

A peek inside from the Chop Suey real estate listing

Everything is for sale. Just ask Broadway’s Charlie’s. The restaurant’s owner Ken Bauer has listed the Capitol Hill classic for years.

On Thursday, Seattle’s only music writer David Segal posted about the peculiar real estate listings involving 14th and Madison rock club Chop Suey and got some intel from longtime neighborhood booker Jodi Ecklund.

“The most recent development is that the price was significantly dropped from the original asking price. The issue is the rent on the building is 13k; even with a thriving club like Chop Suey, that is not sustainable. I have heard there are some interested parties and I have been contacted by a few folks for more insight. My number one concern is that if Chop Suey is purchased, I hope it is by someone who values the local music scene.

If you’re wondering, Dave Meinert tells us he’s not interested in owning “a live music venue.” We’ll let you parse that statement.

Team Dresch on the Suey stage in 2013 (Image: CHS)

Team Dresch on the Suey stage in 2013 (Image: CHS)

To be clear, Chop Suey is for sale.

Not the 1325 E Madison building across the street from the former Piecora’s where a six-story development is planned. Continue reading