Friends, family, and community members joined city officials and political candidates Saturday for the grand re-opening of E Madison’s DeCharlene’s Beauty Salon, a Central District culture and commercial hub revived with a cosmetic overhaul and a reinvigoration of spirit following the death of DeCharlene Williams last year.
“We are preserving the legacy and history that DeCharlene established. All the great things. We need to preserve this,” said Lawrence Pitre, head of the Central Area Chamber of Commerce that Williams founded.
Pitre and the Williams family have worked to renovate the 22nd Ave E at E Madison building and keep the efforts around the chamber’s work and the salon’s business in motion even after the passing of Williams, one of the neighborhood’s most visible advocates for preservation and inclusive growth.
In addition to the new paint job on the outside, some of Pitre’s paintings depicting the key people and places in the legacy of the Central Area are on display inside. Others are part of the cultural offerings at the newly opened, inclusively developed Liberty Bank Building at 24th and Union.
Saturday, Pitre and relatives of DeCharlene Williams filled the overhauled space and greeted visitors including Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Council candidate Zachary DeWolf. Some DeCharlene-worthy hats were on display for sale and the barber chairs on the salon side of things were busy. Outside, visitors navigated the busy construction zone next door as the area slowly fills with redevelopment.
In the beginning, Pitre says the chamber’s mission under Williams was about promoting business and combatting barriers like predatory lending. Some of the same concerns have lasted through today. But now there is also a new effort, Pitre says, around preserving what has survived in addition to helping the new efforts, ventures, and organizations. There are also traditions to keep up with events and parades. The neighborhood’s Juneteenth celebration is only a few weeks away.
You can learn more about the Central Area Chamber of Commerce at centralareachamberofcommerce.com.
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