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For its 100th birthday celebration, First Hill’s Town Hall in line for major restoration project

(Image: Town Hall Seattle)

(Image: Town Hall Seattle)

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.

Malcolm Gladwell (Image:  Seattle Arts & Lectures via Flickr)

Malcolm Gladwell (Image: Seattle Arts & Lectures via Flickr)

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.


First-Hill-Then-and-Now-560x280Speaking of First Hill history…
Friday night brings a unique opportunity to delve into the “rich old history” of the First Hill neighborhood:

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.

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.

"Clad on all elevations in white glazed terra cotta, the building’s materials, classical proportions and detailing provide an important visual anchor to the neighborhood." -- From the 2012 landmark nomination for the 1916-built one-time church

“Clad on all elevations in white glazed terra cotta, the building’s materials, classical proportions and detailing provide an important visual anchor to the neighborhood.” — From the 2012 landmark nomination for the 1916-built one-time church

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

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.

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Cap Hill Guy
Cap Hill Guy
6 years ago

Town Hall is a treasure. This is such great news.


[…] publication reports [PSBJ]· A visual look inside construction of new Vulcan office tower [SPI]· First Hill’s Town Hall in line for major restoration project [CHS]· September Stats Preview: The Fall Lull Begins [SB]· Here’s what’s in the works […]


[…] of First Hill getting a facelift. CHS reported in October that the much-loved Town Hall will be undergoing a serious set of upgrades in advance of its 100th anniversary in 2016. Meanwhile, there are still no new hotel facilities […]