A Capitol Hill leather and kink shop is set to be at the heart of an overhaul of an overlooked but history-packed 107-year-old building on a key E Pike block.
Doghouse Leathers is starting in on design planning for a new home at 715 E Pike in the 1911-built building sandwiched by Saint John’s and Stitches and Babeland that is one of the few auto row-era structures still standing that has not yet been transformed for the new Pike/Pine.
“In my 35+ years dealing with Pike/Pine, I have never seen anything in that location other than the construction office for Pike Motorworks,” Doghouse owner Jeff Henness tells CHS.
With design underway by Capitol Hill based GM Studios, months of work lay ahead. The plan is to be open in the new space by next January or February. Because it will be used for retail, not a bar or a restaurant, an expensive — possibly prohibitively expensive — seismic and fire systems overhaul won’t be necessary to transform the old Neal Apartments building into the new home of Doghouse Leathers. Henness said the project will include more retail space, space for more sewing machines in a larger crafting room and a larger meeting and classroom space on the main level. A new storefront will also match the look and feel of Doghouse’s new neighbors.
Henness tells CHS that a longer lease with better options and uncertainty about development around Doghouse’s current home drove the decision. “Security at last!” he writes.
The move will fill in a gap on an increasingly busy block of E Pike commerce and culture but it will pull Doghouse Leathers away from its roots. Henness began selling his leather goods from a 6-foot by 7-foot bathroom inside the Cuff. In 2010, Henness moved Doghouse into its current home on E Pike at 14th. In 2015, the busy store expanded after the neighboring vacuum shop shut down after 50 years of service. Doghouse has been a Pike/Pine LGBTQ and kink survivor even as competitors have moved in and others have faded away.
Doghouse Leathers will also breathe new life into a building believed to have a history of colorful nightlife. Henness said he was planning to get a few local historians and members of the Capitol Historical Society inside the space to see the old stage inside the building that was reportedly home to a 1920s burlesque show. Its future, Henness hopes, will be salvage and a move to MOHAI. The new home of Doghouse Leathers, meantime, will be able to do its part to provide a thrill or two on this block of E Pike.
Doghouse Leathers is open 1312 E Pike though next winter before its planned move to 715 E Pike. You can follow progress and learn more at doghouseleathers.com.