Capitol Hill leather and kink shop ready to breathe life back into Pike/Pine building with history of silent movies, auto row rubber, burlesque rumors, and, um, toy repair

Left to right: Jo Wellington, Raine Walker, Jeff Henness (Image: Tom Heuser. June, 2018)

Over the summer, CHS reported on an amazing move for a longtime Capitol Hill business. Doghouse’s Leather’s leather and kink retail project is making plans to bring life back to a 107-year-old Pike/Pine building with a (probably) racy past. As part of his plan to restore the 1911-built 715 E Pike Neal Apartments building into the new home of Doghouse Leathers, owner Jeff Henness invited the Capitol Hill Historical Society in to see the structure’s old bones and dig into its colorful past.

By Jo Wellington and the Capitol Hill Historical Society

Doghouse Leathers is a business native to Capitol Hill. It has provided fetish gear and custom leather pieces to the queer male community for many years. However, Doghouse is more than a sex shop. It has provided a community center for many groups over the years, as magazines, activism groups, and others met in the private back room. Jeff Henness, who opened the business in 2006, clearly makes an effort to support that community. He has been in Seattle since the 1980s and has an extensive knowledge of the local people and history.

All of this makes Henness an exciting person to renovate 715 E Pike St. He has a vision of a building that fits in on the block aesthetically, and maintains as much of the original material as possible. Continue reading

A ‘streamlined Eiffel Tower’ — the fourth Capitol Hill radio and TV tower that never was

(Image: CHS)

While we’re talking about potential new futures for the urban environment in Seattle’s core with visions of lidding I-5 and with the reminder of the Seattle Freeway Revolt that 50 years ago responded to that gulf by defeating plans for new expressways slicing through the city, here’s a tale of a defeated massive Capitol Hill project that — fortunately — never happened.

Today, three TV and radio towers jut hundreds of feet into the sky near 18th and E Madison. The structures are 594-feet, 637-feet, and 682-feet tall and about 1,000 feet above sea level at their tips.

But in 1990, the plan was for a “streamlined Eiffel Tower” to join the cluster and stand twice as tall: Continue reading

Pierogi and community at Dom Polski: 100 years of the Polish Home on Capitol Hill

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

50 years ago, the Seattle Freeway Revolt kept the Central District from being ripped apart

Seattle ARCH (Activists Remembered, Celebrated, and Honored) has plans for a “Ramps to Nowhere” memorial (Image: Seattle ARCH)

(Image: Seattle ARCH)

Priscilla Arsove remembers sitting in her family’s living room as her father called hundreds of volunteers and city officials throughout the evening on their house’s single landline telephone to stop freeway projects that he saw as troubling throughout Seattle. Now, she’s working to maintain that legacy as the work of her father and hundreds of others celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

On Sunday September 23, a 50th anniversary celebration of their work will be held at the Central Area Senior Center.

Maynard Arsove was pushed to action by the construction of I-5 which effectively separated Capitol Hill and First Hill from downtown.

The “Freeway Revolt” began in 1960 when voters approved the Bay Freeway, which was set to be a link between I-5 and Seattle Center, and bonds to fund the R.H. Thomson Expressway, a 15-mile roadway that would have stretched from Duwamish to Bothell, thus setting in motion the creation of a transportation system that would have a greater freeway density than Los Angeles.

The R.H. Thomson Expressway would have destroyed up to 3,000 homes and displaced as many as 8,000 people. The Bay Freeway would have walled off South Lake Union from the rest of the city. These possibilities fostered a public outcry that resulted in a public outcry from affected residents which saw the citizens suing the city two years later. Widely-attended public hearings on the future of transportation in Seattle ensued before Citizens Against the RH Thomson (CARHT) and Citizens Against Freeways (CAF) formed in 1968.

“An arrogant disregard for the needs and the interests of the people that lived in the area,” Anna Rudd, a former anti-freeway activist, said of the city’s plan. Continue reading