When I moved to Hillman City in 2014, one of the few longstanding businesses at the core of the neighborhood was Maxim’s, a bar and club that hosted an eclectic array of events, from karaoke to burlesque to hip-hop. A year or so ago, Maxim’s closed and I began hoping in earnest that some kind of theatre would move in and return the space to its vaudeville roots. So you can imagine my delight (pretty sure I actually squealed) when I learned that Ben Hunter and Tarik Abdullah—two of Hillman City’s most generous, capable and visionary cultural leaders—had signed a lease for a restaurant and performance venue. (Longtime community organizer Rodney Herold is the third driving force behind the project.)
Black and Tan Hall won’t open until New Year’s Eve, but it’s already a fascinating story. In this feature story, Jonathan Zwickel digs into the plans for and history behind the place, which stands to become not only a cornerstone of South Seattle, but also proof positive that culture and community can stem the forces of gentrification in our growing city.
Hillman City is historically very diverse, which is what I love most about it. But as people like me move in, we displace the people who were there before us and threaten to dilute the neighborhood’s character. The Black and Tan represents a chance to celebrate that character and invest in its future.
See you out there,
Editor in Chief