It’s difficult to believe it lasted this long — and that there’s not a bar or restaurant entrepreneur or three chomping at the bit to turn an old Capitol Hill firehouse into their next food+drink venture.
On an afternoon of celebration for its neighborhood at the 15th Ave E Sidewalk Festival, On 15th Video announced it had closed down its more than two decade-old movie rental business:
It is with great sadness that we share with you that our ownership has made the extremely difficult decision to close our beloved video store, effective immediately.
Speaking on behalf of the employees, some who have worked at On 15th Video for more than 14 years, we want to say how very sorry we are that we can’t continue to provide quality home video for this wonderful community here on Capitol Hill.
We like to believe that this store, for close to 25 years, provided more than just a place to pick a movie for the evening. Unlike a vending machine, it was a place where you could discuss film and TV with people who really enjoyed it, both customers and employees. It was a place you could walk inside and browse for an hour and find something new and weird or have something recommended to you that you would have otherwise never had a chance to see. We’re very sorry to say that this is a service that cannot easily be replaced and we will truly miss providing it to you.
Thank you again for of your patronage and efforts in keeping us alive for as long as you did. We love you all very much!
– Will, Chris, JennaRose, Warren, Adam, Bruce & Keith
The business has been part of the street for more than 25 years but joins a steady procession of movie rental shops pressing eject across Capitol Hill — and in every other city in the country and the world — as online services have grown and automated vending machines have taken over. We’ll check in with On 15th owners Barbara Carver and Karen Puzzo to see if we can learn more. This spring, popular On 15th Video manager Steve Mandich died suddenly at the age of 44.
UPDATE 9/13/14: CHS has found state records that clarify the current ownership of On 15th. Carver and Puzzo are past owners, according to the state. The current owner is a company headed by William Carlysle Holmes. His family has owned On 15th Ave since the 1990s and he had planned to purchase Scarecrow Video:
William Carlysle Holmes’ family owns Directors Ltd., the company purchasing Scarecrow. Holmes was convicted in 1993 of defrauding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of nearly $1 million through his company, Trustee Services. The company had been contracted to collect money on foreclosures on HUD-owned property.
Carl Tostevin and John Dauphiny eventually stepped in to buy Scarecrow, instead. In 2014, Scarecrow reorganized as a non-profit.
On 15th’s home building was also a big part of its charm. Seattle historian Rob Ketcherside wrote about the old Fire Station 7 here:
Fire Station 7 opened at the corner of 15th and Harrison in 1920. After being surplused it reopened in 1970 as “Earth Station 7”, housing several community and environmental groups. The sign on the wall of the 2010 photo shows their impact – “40 years designing seeds of change” for the group Environmental Works.
In 2010, Environmental Works marked “40 years of sustainable architecture and planning” and the group continues to own the 1920-built building that was the onetime home of Capitol Hill Housing and The Country Doctor Clinic in their early days.
On 15th Video’s closure marks the end of its kind on Capitol Hill. We’re not currently aware of another dedicated movie rental business operating in meatspace in the neighborhood. Most recently, Broadway Video also gave up the ghost after 30 years of business. Previously, big chains like Hollywood Video disappeared in the dark of night or, like Blockbuster, went out with a long, painful epilogue.
The end of the business also continues the turnover of spaces along the 15th Ave E commercial village where longtimers like The Canterbury have undergone major upgrades or experienced the end of their times on the blocks. Newcomer Sur 16 will replace the old Bagel Deli this fall, and Nuflours is building a new cafe in the 85-year-old bakery space it took over on the street.
Meanwhile, SIFF is busily readying Capitol Hill’s Egyptian Theatre for a return to film venue action starting in October.
There are no current permits on file for any construction projects at the video store’s address.
UPDATE: The Seattle Public Libraries, when open, provide one last significant source of hard copy rental options:
— Seattle Library (@SPLBuzz) September 8, 2014