1937 (Image courtesy the Polish Home Association)
In 1918, the same year the modern state of Poland was formed, a group of Poles came together on Capitol Hill. The neighborhood barely existed at the time, and the group purchased what had been a country club, remaking it into the Polish Home.
100 years later, the Polish Home still stands on 18th Ave.
As America was forming, Poland was falling apart. In the last decades of the 1700s, the country we now know as Poland had dissolved and was divvied up by Prussia, Russia and Austria. Once that happened, Poles starting emigrating in waves, explained Pawel Krupa, president of the Polish Home Association.
By 1918, after World War I and the Russian Revolution, the countries that had once controlled Poland were shadows of themselves, if they still existed. Poles took the opportunity and modern Poland was formed.
But more than a century of upheaval had caused many Poles to look for a better life in other parts of the world, including America. While most who came here stayed on the East Coast, Krupa explains that some, inevitably, made their way westward. A lot, he said, were miners, drawn to the coal mines in eastern King County like those at Black Diamond.
Once here, they sought each other out. Like many immigrant groups, they wanted a sense of community: people who speak the same language, have a taste for the same food, and know the same dances. They also sought a place to commiserate about the difficulties of assimilating into a culture that was, as it can still be, both overtly and covertly hostile to new immigrants. The Polish Home was born. Continue reading