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Nonprofit group Historic Seattle leads effort to save Showbox music venue

Nonprofit group Historic Seattle announced it will lead the effort to obtain historical designation for the downtown Showbox music venue.
Photo: KING

Seattle's largest historic preservation group is taking the reigns to ensure the Showbox music venue receives landmark status. Historic Seattle says it will rally a community of advocates to support the forthcoming nomination planned by the developer.

"It's important to not just the city, but the state and nationally as well because everyone knows the Showbox," said Eugenia Woo, Director of Preservation Services at the nonprofit.

Woo and her fellow preservationists will work with several groups to collectively build a case for saving the building and present that to the preservation board. Since the announcement last week, there has been a massive response.

"It seems like Seattle woke up last Wednesday to the news about the Showbox, to the news of it possibly being torn down. And that just sparked a huge outcry," she said.

Also see | Seattle's longtime Showbox could be demolished for high-rise

In six days there are nearly 80,000 signatures on a petition to save Showbox. It's taken six months to get that many signatures for the neighboring Hahn Building which sits across the street from Pike Place Market.

"There's broad base opposition to putting a large building in this location," said Kevin Britton-Simmons, a 10-year resident of Pike Place who started the Hahn petition.

So far, his efforts and the efforts of others have fallen on mostly deaf ears at the preservation board, which has declined to grant landmark status partly because of the many physical changes to the building over the years stripping away at its identity. Woo thinks it, too, should be designated.

"It's not just about the building itself, or the use, it's really about, what does this mean in the context of the city, its history, its connection to the market," she said.

So she hopes to help both groups join forces.

"One of our jobs here is almost like preservation matchmaker," said Woo.

It's not about fighting progress or growth, she just wants to make sure Seattle remembers its roots. So does Kevin.

"If we're not going to protect this intersection, at this magical location, that's so critical to the economy of our city, and has so much cultural meaning and significance to so many people," he said. "What are we going to protect?"

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