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The Attic – 2023 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award

Historic Seattle’s Annual Preservation Celebration is coming up on September 28, 2023. We’ll celebrate the projects and people that help amplify our mission. Today, we feature the Attic, the 2023 Preserving Neighborhood Character Award recipient. 

Congratulations to the Attic!

In the constantly changing urban streetscapes of Seattle, it’s the places that have been around for decades or more that help shape and maintain the character of a neighborhood. Central to any community are the legacy businesses that we all come to love. These “third places” bring us together. One such place is the Attic Alehouse & Eatery in Madison Park. The Attic has anchored the neighborhood at 4226 E Madison St since 1967, the same year the building was constructed, replacing a much older structure that once housed a bowling alley in 1907, then a shooting range transitioning to a bar in 1937. The Attic abruptly closed in early February 2020 before pandemic-caused closures. The historic bar’s longtime owner of 30 years, Mark Long, passed away in 2018. At this time, an interim ownership group stepped in prior to the current business owners.

Fortunately for Madison Park and Seattle, the Attic has survived as a legacy business and reopened in late April 2023, saved and resurrected by ESR (Ethan Stowell Restaurants) led by Executive Chef Ethan Stowell and Howard Wright, the Founder and CEO of Seattle Hospitality Group (SHG). The new owners purchased the historic watering hole, installed new hardwood floors, and made “facelift” improvements to the space. This new chapter in the long and storied history of the Attic celebrates many memories and great times and continues making new ones.

As described in a recent Seattle Times article, “Under Long’s stewardship, the pub turned into that proverbial third place, where softball teams hung out after league games. Many locals had their first dates there, and families hosted celebration of life events.” According to Stowell, “In the last 50 years, tons of parents have taken their kids here for their first beer. Watch Cougar and Husky games. This is like the neighborhood ‘Cheers.’”

The continuation of the Attic gives us hope because Seattle has lost and continues to lose so many legacy businesses. It’s these words by Ethan Stowell that caught Historic Seattle’s attention and why we honor the Attic with a Preserving Neighborhood Character Award, “It is a preservation thing,” Stowell told the Seattle Times. “We would like to see other neighborhood institutions continue on. If we can help with that, we would be happy to take that on.”

To that we say, “More please!”


Image courtesy of the Attic

Support Seattle Legacy Businesses

It seems that every day there’s news about yet another beloved local business closing and there’s nothing we can do about it. Existing historic preservation tools do not protect specific uses or businesses. What else can be done? What can you do?

There are efforts underway to try to address this issue of how to protect Seattle’s older businesses. Historic Seattle has been working with other advocates to support the notion of a Legacy Businesses program in Seattle.

Seattle Councilmember Lisa Herbold has been leading an effort to raise awareness of the importance of these legacy businesses. For the City of Seattle’s 2017-2018 Proposed Budget, she is sponsoring a proposal to add $100,000 for a study on legacy businesses with the goal of identifying places and fostering an atmosphere in which they might better thrive going forward. The funding would support a study to determine the scope and definition of a Seattle Legacy Business project.

Historic Seattle supports Councilmember’s Herbold’s budget proposal addition—we testified at a recent Select Budget Committee meeting in support of the proposal.

Today, we are asking for your support. Please contact Council Budget Committee Chair Tim Burgess at to request that he include the funding for the Seattle Legacy Business Study in his proposed balanced budget package. He will announce his budget package next Wednesday, November 2.

Seattle Weekly discussed the issue of Legacy Businesses in a recent article. Read more here.

Learn more about Seattle Legacy Businesses!

Photo by Joe Mabel, Wikipedia Commons. Bush Garden, Seattle Chinatown-International District