It protects, preserves, defends and repurchases Seattle’s historic buildings if necessary. Historic Seattle through various programs, creates a community spirit around the conservation of places or buildings that are symbols for the city of Seattle. We have tried to find out more and we share with you the first successes of the fight to save the Showbow.

Historic Seattle-Deaborn House
Historic Seattle-Deaborn House-Jonathan Park Photographer

Who created Historic Seattle and when? What is the size of your organization?

Historic Seattle is a public development authority (PDA) chartered by the City of Seattle in 1974. This means that we work in the public interest (specifically historic preservation) while being legally separate from the City of Seattle itself.

We currently have 15 employees, most of whom work at our headquarters at the landmark Deaborn House on First Hill.

What is the purpose of Historic Seattle?

Our mission is saving meaningful places that foster lively communities.

Historic Seattle-Stimson House

What is the purpose of Historic Seattle?

Our mission is saving meaningful places that foster lively communities.

How do you act?

We pursue our mission through education, advocacy, and preservation. Our education programs raise awareness of Seattle’s architectural heritage among the public, while we advocate for preservation to policy makers and citizens alike. Historic Seattle is also in the business of acquiring and rehabilitating historic properties.


Historic Seattle produces a broad range of events including design lectures, tours of historic sites, and annual programs that educate the public about preserving historic buildings. We celebrate local preservation successes through our annual Historic Preservation Awards event. We communicate with constituents and the public through our website, email list, social networks.


Through preservation advocacy, Historic Seattle works closely with individuals and community groups to advocate for the preservation of historic places. We assist with advocacy efforts by providing technical assistance and teaching tools for advocacy. We are visible proponents of preservation advocacy in Seattle working with policy makers who regularly seek our advice and expertise regarding a wide range of preservation issues that affect the city and county.

Historic Seattle-Cadillac Hotel 1937
Historic Seattle-Cadillac Hotel


We provide quality stewardship of the properties we own including the Heg-Phillips Apartments, Victorian Row Apartments, Egan House, Good Shepherd Center, Dearborn House, Cadillac Hotel, Belmont-Boylston Houses, and Washington Hall. Historic Seattle acquired Washington Hall for $1.5 million in 2009. The hall has functioned as a community gathering place since 1908. Our vision calls for full rehabilitation of the performance spaces and a permanent home for arts and cultural organizations at a cost of around $9.5 million.

You have already saved a dozen of buildings. How do you select them?

As a historic preservation organization, we focus on buildings of historic significance – especially those at risk for redevelopment. For example, the Cadillac Hotel was badly damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. Rehabilitation was expensive, putting the building at risk for demolition. Historic Seattle stepped in to buy and restore the building. Through adaptive reuse, the Cadillac Hotel is now home to the Seattle Unit of the National Park Service’s Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.

We also value cultural history, which is why we purchased Washington Hall – in order to return the building to its former glory and serve the community through arts, heritage, and cultural organizations.

Historic Seattle

Which building do you want to save today?

Historic Seattle values the cultural history of our city – which is why we’re fighting to save The Showbox. The Showbox is one of Seattle’s most historically significant music venues and is currently being threatened with redevelopment. In July 2018, we learned that the property owner intended to sell it to a developer who would demolish the building and put a luxury high-rise in its place. We sprang into action by submitting a landmark nomination just 10 days after the news broke.

As a first step, Seattle City Council voted to temporarily include the Showbox site in the Pike Place Market Historic District, preventing it from being redeveloped.

On July 17, at the Landmarks Preservation Board (LPB) meeting, the LPB unanimously voted to preserve the Showbox as a historic monument. The elements identified for preservation include the exterior of the building as well as some interior parts.

Director of Preservation Services Eugenia Woo wants to celebrate this victory but reminds us that the work is not finished.

This vote provides protection for the physical elements of the property and not for its use, it is a critical step that helps to save the building that houses The Showbox. In order to preserve the building’s use for concerts, Historic Seattle is continuing its action to purchase the property through a fundraising campaign.

More about The Showbox