Remembering Admiral Theater's closure
Sadly, the century-old Alki Homestead burns. Easy Street Records turns 20. Another West Seattle mainstay also deserves attention this month.
On Thursday, Jan. 29, it will be "twenty years ago today" that the Southwest Seattle Historical Society picketed on the night Cineplex Odeon closed the Admiral Theater. The event attracted several dozen participants, including all our state and county office-holders, along with live TV news coverage. It also triggered an intensive and successful six-month drive to make the 1942 art-deco moviehouse a city landmark, which bought time for a new owner to emerge and reopen it in 1992.
We really didn't know what we were getting into that night, but we sensed an enduring and endearing affection for the Admiral that played out in a passionate community campaign that included the sale of thousands of $1 "Save the Admiral" buttons, the collection of thousands of petition signatures and enthusiastic attendance by hundreds of locals at a seemingly endless series of key meetings.
This all came about when the historical society was only five years old, and the historical society's movement to acquire, restore and operate the Log House Museum on Alki was still five years in the future. In 1989, the Admiral became West Seattle's first large-scale engagement in historic preservation, and it was a truly grassroots phenomenon.
Had our community not naively plunged into picketing at the Admiral that night, a newer business/residential structure would be standing in its place, and West Seattle might not have a movie theater, certainly not one as uniquely elegant and full of irreplaceable memories.
Twenty years is only an arbitrary measure, but such round numbers are how our society calculates its milestones and celebrates its heritage. We know where we'll be on Thursday night.
Clay Eals and Brad Chrisman