(click to enlarge photos)
Once upon a time dragons wagged their long tongues from open jaws on the roof of Norway Hall in Seattle’s Cascade Neighborhood. The hall’s sponsors, the Daughters and Sons of Norway, respectively the Valkyrien and Leif Erikson Lodges, dedicated their new hall in 1915, on May 17, Norwegian Constitution Day.
Dennis Andersen, one of our distinguished historians of Northwest architecture, and himself of Norwegian descent, notes that the hall’s architect, the native Norwegian Englehart Sonnichsen, “knew the revival modes of his country very well.” Andersen continues, “In the 1880s and 1890s, as Norway was working toward independence from Sweden, art and architecture trends lifted up traditional folk art forms — some of it rather fanciful. The dragon-shaped eaves of Sonnichsen’s Norway Hall recall this so-called ‘dragon style’ (dragestil). It was commonly used on resort hotels, pavilions, and restaurants.” (And, Andersen notes, on the Andersen family silver.)
Here (at the top) on an early photograph of the hall, an unnamed retouch artist has enhanced its surrounds with lawns sown with grass in place of a clutter of other structures (aside from the roof of a modest home across Denny Way behind the trees on the far right). The national flags of Norway and the United States have been rendered to flutter artfully, lifted by a southeasterly breeze. The painted stones beside the sidewalk, far left, resemble stacks of Norwegian rye bread more than river rocks.
The architect’s brother, Yngvar, adorned the interior of Norway Hall with murals depicting several sagas of Norse history, including the discovery of Vinland – North America – by the lodge’s namesake, Leif Erikson, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus reached The Bahamas. The U.S. Postal System agreed, issuing a six-cent stamp in 1968, commemorating the Icelandic explorer’s Newfoundland (it is thought) landing.
Today at 2015 Boren Avenue the Norwegians and their dragons are long gone. After selling their hall in the late 1940s, the growing Sons and Daughters twice moved to new quarters, first to Lower Queen Anne in 1951 and later in 1986 to Ballard, both times carrying their murals with them. In the early 1970s the old Norway Hall barely
escaped being razed by a developer, who explained “there is pressure for more parking in the area.” It was saved, however, and is now Raisbeck Hall, the performing arts venue on Cornish School of the Arts’ main campus.
Noe å legge til, gutter ? (Anything to add, boys?)
Ja Jean. Med hjelp igjen (og igjen) fra Ron Edge og mer hjelp fra Christine Anderson, historiker for Leiv Eiriksson Lodge 2-001, Sønner av Norge, og også fra Fred Poyner IV, samlinger manager på Nordic Heritage Museum. Vi har lagt ved et par linker og tidligere funksjoner som liksom er knyttet til kjennetegnet Norge Hus første dedikerte i Seattles Cascade Neighborhood 100 år siden, noe som sikkert har noe å gjøre med at vi viser det seg nå. Vi kaster også i noen dansker, men ingen svensker, med vilje. Vi lagrer dem til senere. Vi må også takke Google Translate, for selv om både du og jeg er velfylt med Scandi-gener, verken vi lese eller snakke norsk til godt. Vel, du kan bli med igjen, “Snakk for deg selv Paul.” La de som er kjent med norsk dommer kapasiteten til Googles innsats.
Yes Jean. With help again (and again) from Ron Edge and more help from Christine Anderson, historian for Leif Erikson Lodge 2-001, Sons of Norway, and also from Fred Poyner IV, Collections manager at the Nordic Heritage Museum. We have attached a few links and past features that somehow relate to the featured Norway House first dedicated in Seattle’s Cascade Neighborhood 100 years ago, which surely has something to do with why we are showing it off now. We also throw in a few Danes but no Swedes, intentionally. We are saving them for later. We also need to thank Google Translate, for although both you, Jean, and I are well-stocked with Scandi-genes, we neither read nor speak Norwegian so well. You might rejoin, “Speak for yourself Paul.” Let those familiar with Norwegian judge the capacities of Google’s efforts.
CAPITOL HILL & The CASCADE PLATEAU from DENNY HILL
5 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Norway Hall”
Reblogged this on Janet’s thread and commented:
Exploring Seattle’s and Ballard’s early history.
Nice to see the Norway hall! It would have been nice to add something about it being a rather famously haunted building according to many people who worked there; and a reference to its stint as the famed Timberline Lodge. Thanks, Paul!
Paul may have missed the hauntings, but he did mention the Timberline. Please see the caption for the now photograph.
Paul also misnamed the current owner. By the time Cornish took over Raisbeck, it was Cornish College of the Arts, as it remains today. We do appreciate learning more of the history of the oldest building that we inhabit.
The ghost remains unconfirmed but we’d love to hear from anyone who knows more about that story or the rest of Rasibeck’s intriguing past. – Rosemary Jones, Cornish College of the Arts
The building has been recently outfitted with a great HVAC system–in this day of (September 2020) smoke from fires, and viruses, one can play and teach there, spread out of course, and the whooshing air make you feel like you are on the Fjords. That ‘ghost’ is a good one—I felt immediately much better in that space! –Thank God they saved the building. best to all, Tom Varner, Music Department, Cornish.