Seattle Playwrights Salon volunteer Autumn Hjort sat down with Sylvia O’Stayformore, one of the proprietors of The Palace Theatre & Art Bar, to talk about Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood, The Palace, and our thriving Seattle arts community.
When Margaret O’Donnell and Kate Danley founded the Seattle Playwrights Salon in 2016, they were fortunate to garner the support of the creative folks from The Conservatory, a lovely blend of coffee house and artists’ hub that existed in the building prior to The Palace. Since then, the Salon has enjoyed hosting monthly play readings in this unique and intimate space, and we have witnessed the transition from The Conservatory to the Palace Theatre & Art Bar, as the owners find a way to support the broadening artistic community in Georgetown and harken back to Georgetown’s early twentieth-century roots.
The Palace is part of the Fred Marino Building, which first opened its doors in 1903. The space that we know as our favorite local art and theatre bar was originally a hardware store, and the next-door neighbors operated the inaugural Palace Hotel and Bar. The hotel, which existed on the second floor of the building, offered approximately 40 basic rooms and catered to laborers in the area. But, everything changed for the residents in Georgetown during the Prohibition Era.
The community, which relied heavily on the Rainier Brewing Company for the majority its jobs, was decimated, and the Palace Hotel became a flop house out of necessity. I think it’s safe to say that the Georgetown neighborhood went through a bit of a rough patch in the decades following prohibition times. The space currently occupied by The Palace was used for everything from a brass works to a Hells Angels clubhouse, a brothel, and a wrestling venue.
In 1996, Virginia native John Bennett began revitalizing Georgetown and purchased the Fred Marino Building as part of this project. With revitalization came an increased awareness about the importance of community and the artistic endeavors of a refreshingly diverse Georgetown. We want to support and encourage artists to express themselves, and we want to give patrons space to enjoy and experience new art. To that end, we are lucky to have the Georgetown Art Attack, which happens on the second Saturday of every month. During Art Attack, guests can view the original Palace hotel rooms that are now being used as gallery spaces.
Sylvia O’Stayformore and her business partners, Carlos Paradinha Jr. and Maria Paradinha, are passionate about keeping art alive in Georgetown; they schedule a tantalizing array of programs at The Palace Theatre & Art Bar, from the monthly Seattle Playwrights Salon readings, to the Bacon Strip drag queen show, Sunday Tea Dances, and the Hilltop Jazz Project. I’m looking forward to stopping by The Palace for Larry Knapp’s piano sing along night and the Rise and Dine Drag Puppet and Waffles on a Stick Brunch.
The next time you visit The Palace to immerse yourself in plays, puppets, or drag queens, stop a minute, look around, and see if you can picture the space in 1903. And don’t forget to say hello to Frederick, the resident ghost. He is good-natured and harmless but does like to fiddle with the electricity now and then.