As it nears the celebration of its 100th birthday in 2016, First Hill’s landmark Town Hall Seattle building is in line for millions of dollars in renovations and a full restoration.
While the project remains it its early planning phases and has not yet been announced to the wider public, Town Hall representatives have begun discussing the work with neighbors and businesses in the First Hill community and confirmed details of the construction on the City of Seattle, state, *and* federal landmark building that dates way back to a first phase of construction in 1916 and completion in September, 1923. CHS wrote about the landmark process for the 8th and Seneca structure here in 2012.
“We have it in mind what we want to do to renovate this great historic building,” Town Hall’s Anthony Detrano said.
Detrano said to expect several opportunities for the community to hear updates and weigh in on the coming project.
“We’re being more transparent about this kind of project because that’s in the DNA of what Town Hall is,” Detrano said.
Images courtesy Seattle Arts & Lectures via Flickr
The upgrades and renovation work will include a full seismic overhaul of what is reportedly the only major four-sided masonry building in Seattle. The major construction project will also include restoring the roof of the one-time Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist with a “character appropriate” replacement, a full upgrade of accessibility for the building, the creation of better events spaces and internal concessions areas, new bathrooms, ticketing facilities and, perhaps most important for anybody who has ever lined up outside on a cold, rainy night for a Town Hall event, space for internal queuing.
New performance spaces will also be created inside the venue. Behind the scenes, speakers and performers will find improved facilities. Outside, the project planners will work with the city to make the westside alley more pedestrian friendly.
Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard: ‘First Hill and Beyond’
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2014, 7:30 – 8:45PM
The Pub at Town Hall; enter on Eighth Avenue. $5.
As the first — and nearest — hill to the original waterfront settlement of Seattle, the First Hill neighborhood has a rich old history. We might be biased — given Town Hall’s central location in the neighborhood — but First Hill is one of the most unique locations in the city. This special event will unveil an installation of Paul Dorpat’s and Jean Sherrard’s photography exhibition “First Hill and Beyond” in Town Hall’s north lobby. Beginning with Henry Yesler and his pals’ initial truck up to First Hill — a fine spot for their crustless cucumber sandwich lunch break — this exhibition and event will give a whirlwind overview of Pacific Northwest history. In an enthusiastic, audience participation-filled event (think, tent revivalism!), learn about local history, get a whiff of sulfur, a touch of elysium, and a taste of Seattle scandals long forgotten. Historian Dorpat has written the popular “Now and Then” column for the Sunday Seattle Times’ Pacific Northwest Magazine since 1982, and Sherrard joined him in 2006.
A major capital campaign is planned though a Town Hall representative declined to put a price tag on the full project at this time. $6.5 million has already been raised by donors for the project, the representative confirmed.
You won’t have to wait for some of the upgrades. Last month, Town Hall flipped the switch on its new hearing loop system made possible with funds from private donors and a King County 4Culture grant.
At Town Hall with Hearing Loss Assn. celebrating installation of hearing loop. Town Hall will be more accessible. pic.twitter.com/ceDbdXvHrA
— Tom Rasmussen (@CityhallTom) September 16, 2014
Point 32, the developer who also helped to create the BelRoy Apartments project and Bullitt Center on Capitol Hill, has been selected to lead the Town Hall project as it moves forward in planning toward construction.
The Town Hall construction is expected to begin in 2016 with a goal of reopening the venue sometime in 2017. During the construction, Town Hall plans to distribute some 250 planned events at venues across the city.
Through all of the changes and improvements, Detrano said the goal is to preserve the historical grandeur of the nearly 100-year-old building.
“We’re not thinking about this as a massive cosmetic shift,” he said. “What we’re hoping to do is change the way the experience is for people inside.”
You can learn more at townhallseattle.org.
Thanks a million to Gordon Werner (@gordonwerner) for his assistance with this report.
Town Hall is a CHS community partner and we provide discounted advertising for the neighborhood venue.