Seattle Now & Then: Norway Hall

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: The now century-old Norway Hall at the corner of Boren Avenue and Virginia Street opened in 1915, on May 17, Norwegian Independence Day.  (Courtesy, Nordic Heritage Museum)
THEN: The now century-old Norway Hall at the corner of Boren Avenue and Virginia Street opened in 1915, on May 17, Norwegian Independence Day. (Courtesy, Nordic Heritage Museum)
NOW: Since the Sons and Daughters moved on to larger clubhouses, their first Norway Hall has given shelter to the Painter’s Union and dance clubs, including the City Beat Disco in the 1980s and the Timberline in the 1990s, and now as Cornish School’s Raisbeck Hall.
NOW: Since the Sons and Daughters moved on to larger clubhouses, their first Norway Hall has given shelter to the Painter’s Union and dance clubs, including the City Beat Disco in the 1980s and the Timberline in the 1990s, and now as Cornish School’s Raisbeck Hall.

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Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI
Courtesy, Museum of History and Industry, aka MOHAI
Daughters of Norway at Norway all with some Sons or suitors in suits or uniforms.
Daughters of Norway at Norway Hall with some Sons or suitors in suits or uniforms.

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.)

For example, on a visit to Norway Christine Anderson photographed an example of traditional stave construction, above.  Below, she has complimented (or repeated) the old with the "new" from 1915.
For example, on a visit to Norway Christine Anderson photographed the traditional stave construction, above. Below, she has complimented (or repeated) the old with the “new” from 1915.
Norway Hall now, a detail photographed by Christine Anderson, Historian for the Leif Erikson Lodge 2-001, Sons of Norway.
Norway Hall now, a detail photographed by Christine Anderson, Historian for the Leif Erikson Lodge 2-001, Sons of Norway.

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. 

Although the timing for this portrait of Norway Hall must be estimated from the motorcar park in front of it, in 1915 the hall's location was already surrounded by a developed Cascade Neighborhood, like this one.
Although the timing for this portrait of Norway Hall may be estimated from the motorcar park in front of it – perhaps in the 1920s -, in 1915 the hall’s location was already surrounded by a developed Cascade Neighborhood, like this one.

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.    

While we hope to include the enduring murals as an addendum to this blog, here is one of the "missing murals," also on Norwegian subjects and styles.  Here the artist had leaned his work again the outside wall of, perhaps, his studio for a recording before delivering the mural to the hall.  If he did.  These "missing murals" are also, it seems, mysterious.
While we hope to include later the moved and yet  enduring murals as an addendum to this blog, here is one of the “missing murals,” also on Norwegian subjects and styles. Here the artist leaned his work against the outside wall of, perhaps, his studio for a recording before delivering the art to the hall. If he did. These “missing murals” are also, it seems, mysterious.
Another of the missing murals.
Another of the missing murals.
And another with the same temporary supporting wall.
And another with the same temporary supporting wall.
May these have been for another hall?
We wonder, may these have been for another hall?

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

A TIMES clipping from Nov. 12, 1972 most likely helped save the Hall.
This TIMES clipping from Nov. 12, 1972 most likely helped save the Hall. (Click to ENLARGE)

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.

CLICK TO ENLARGE
CLICK TO ENLARGE

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ABOVE AND BELOW: complimenting clippings from the Oct. 19, 1975 issue of The Seattle Times.
ABOVE:  complimenting clippings from the Oct. 19, 1975 issue of The Seattle Times.  CLICK TO ENLARGE

WEB EXTRAS

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.

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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.

THEN:  Built in 1888-89 at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street, the then named Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church marked the southeast corner of Denny Hill.  Eventually the lower land to the east of the church (here behind it) would be filled, in part, with hill dirt scraped and eroded from North Seattle lots to the north and west of this corner.  (Courtesy, Denny Park Lutheran Church)

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Then: Photographed from an upper story of the Ford Factory at Fairview Avenue and Valley Street, the evidence of Seattle's explosive boom years can be seen on every shore of Lake Union, ca. 1920. Courtesy of MOHAI

THEN: The scene looks north through a skyline of steeples toward the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.

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First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 11, 1988.
First appeared in Pacific, Sept. 11, 1988. CLICK TO ENLARGE

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FIRST  appeared in Pacific on May 26, 1991.
FIRST appeared in Pacific on May 26, 1991.
Lawton Gowey took this sometime in the 1970s - or I did.  I don't know for sure.  I remember a new paint job on the nine domes and the rest when I lived in the neighborhood in 1977 to 1980.
Lawton Gowey took this sometime in the 1970s – or I did. I don’t know for sure. I remember a new paint job on the nine domes and the rest when I lived in the neighborhood in 1977 to 1980.

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CAPITOL HILL & The CASCADE PLATEAU from  DENNY HILL

Courtesy, Lawton Gowey, who did not record it, but collected it.
Courtesy, Lawton Gowey, who did not record it, but collected it.
N.P.Railroad photographer, Jay Haynes look northeast from Denny Hill to Capitol Hill with the Cascade Neighborhood plateau below it.   Lenora Street descends on the left from Denny Way.   A decade later Norway Hall was built near where the larger home stands to the right of the pump house.
N.P.Railroad photographer, Jay Haynes looks northeast from Denny Hill to Capitol Hill with the Cascade Neighborhood plateau below it. Lenora Street descends on the left from Denny Way. A decade later Norway Hall was built near where the larger home stands to the right of the pump house.
Another pan from Denny Hill to the northeast.  Stewart Street is on the right and Fourth Avenue at the bottom of the frame.   Lenora Street can be found in this A. Curtis shot as well.  It is left of center, again heading down the hill from the Cascade Plateau to Terry Avenue.   Wallingford is on the far left horizon. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
Another pan from Denny Hill to the northeast. Stewart Street is on the right and Fourth Avenue at the bottom of the frame. Lenora Street can be found in this A. Curtis shot as well. It is left of center, again heading down the hill from the Cascade Plateau to Terry Avenue. Wallingford is on the far left horizon. (Courtesy, Washington State Museum, Tacoma)
The dark cedar roof of Norway Hall can be found here very near the center of this ca. 1940 aerial. (We have cropped  it to put it there.)  Westlake is on the left and Fairview, also heading north to the north shore of Lake Union, is right-of-center.
The dark cedar roof of Norway Hall can be found very near the center of this ca. 1940 aerial. (We have cropped it to put it there.) Westlake is on the left and Fairview, also heading north to the north shore of Lake Union, is right-of-center.  Thanks to Ron Edge and his collection of aerials for this one.

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Finally, for now, Whitewalls somewhere in the Cascade Neighborhood, ca. 1950.  (Courtesy, University of Washington Architectural Library)
Finally, for now, Whitewalls somewhere in the Cascade Neighborhood, ca. 1950. (Courtesy, University of Washington Architectural Library)

3 thoughts on “Seattle Now & Then: Norway Hall”

  1. 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!

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