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The Crescent, under new ownership, ready for another 70 years on Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill’s last great dive bar has new owners but its vow to never, ever change remains the same.

Brothers Joe Martin, Steve Smith, and David Munden are set to step back in to run The Crescent, the bar their father helped create decades ago on E Olive Way.

“As long as I breathe this air, it will never change,” Martin tells CHS.

Jim Feigley helped found the Crescent and kept it as a simple, reliable space where, as CHS wrote during a visit in 2014, gays, straights, and all stripes of Capitol Hill unite in drunken singalong seven nights a week. Health problems forced Feigley to put the bar up for sale. Steve Song, a Tacoma-area real estate broker, bought the Crescent in 2008 and is now ready to hand it back to the family.

Feigley has passed on but Martin said the Crescent will endure. First will come some much needed but mostly behind the scenes upgrades when the deal is set to close in January. There will be some refurbishing but more important will be the new coolers and various other infrastructure upgrades.

The dive bar, as usual, finds itself in the midst of yet another new wave of change. A new pot shop — The Reefhas opened on its block. Another is on its way.

For Martin, running the Crescent and being part of nightlife is something that is in his blood. But he wasn’t always in love with the Crescent’s grit. “As a kid, I hated being anywhere near the bar,” he says. When his dad pulled him in and got him involved about 16 years ago, Martin said he suggested they tear the place down.

The building fights on. Constructed in 1924, it first began hosting a bar in 1935 when the Arterial Tavern opened. Two years later the bar was split to accommodate a local grocery store. From 1942 to 1944, David Downie operated a bar called Downies. Following a few years of vacancy, the Crescent opened in 1948

Now 70 years old, the old bar and its community of regulars and random visitors has grown on Martin. He compares it to Cheers though maybe everybody doesn’t really know your name. The Crescent succeeds because it is a place for everybody.

“It’s a very inclusive bar,” Martin said. “I do want its legacy to live on.”

The Crescent, under new ownership with the new year, is located at 1413 E. Olive Way.

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