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New artwork in Chophouse Row builds on old foundations — the ‘ghost’ of a Capitol Hill farmhouse

The living and dead gathered together in Chophouse Row on Saturday for the unveiling of the “Ghost Cabin,” a new art installation that pays tribute to a house that once stood on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, the unveiling also commemorated the opening of the new headquarters for City Arts Magazine in the Cloud Room, a workspace and lounge above the 11th Ave development.

When Chophouse Row was being built, contractors had to excavate the foundations of the old buildings to create a footing for the new development. When they were doing that, according to Liz Dunn, the developer and owner of Chophouse Row, they struck the remains of house deep beneath the surface of the ground.

“They hit the foundations of the old farmhouse 25 feet down that we knew were there,” Dunn said. “The contractors were completely freaked out. They were like ‘oh my god, we hit grandma’s house. The ghost is going to haunt us for the rest of the project’ and, in fact, she did because it was a challenging project.”

The Cloud Room is a multifaceted venue, community workspace and bar. The space is made available for community events as well, and the rooftop lounge overlooking Chophouse Row and Capitol Hill will serve as the new headquarters for City Arts Magazine.

Last month, CHS reported on the move of City Arts adding to Capitol Hill’s collection of indie media ventures operating in the neighborhood. City Arts, recently independent after splitting from glossy arts program publisher Encore Media Group, will now call Capitol Hill home.

The preservation friendly marketplace and office development Chophouse Row debuted in the summer of 2015, incorporating auto row era elements of the buildings it replaced and creating an open building space of mews and courtyards. It was lauded for its preservation, design, and for helping to provide more space for companies to bring daytime workers to the neighborhood, as well as spaces for retail and a new restaurant and cafes. CHS reported here on the most recent addition to the project — a new space for Ghost Gallery.

The unveiling of the “Ghost Cabin” kicked off with a live performance by Tomas Vrba, a Washington-based artist who uses chainsaws to create ornate wooden sculptures. On Saturday he created an owl, which will be installed in Chophouse Row where it will serve as a watchful eye over kindly customers. The rest of the event involved speakers and performances by “7/8 Strings,” a band of high school students, and by Yada Yada Blues Band.

Part of the cloud of activity around this year’s Seattle Art Fair, the unveiling of the new art installation in the Chophouse Row courtyard by architects SHED Architecture & Design also included “a participatory ritual to inaugurate the Ghost Cabin,” and, of course, a DJ set.

“The courtyard needed a thing, a large scale environmental art piece to give it a focal point,” Dunn said. “That’s the genesis of the ghost cabin story.”

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