Astor Hotel/Nippon Kan Theater

628 S Washington Street

Nippon Kan Theater, Astor Hotel building, Seattle, October 15, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Astor Hotel building, Seattle, October 15, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Astor Hotel, Seattle, ca. 1936, Courtesy Puget Sound Regional Archives (Plat B-44 L5)
J. Kikuchi Co., 123 Maynard Avenue, Seattle, September 1911, Photo by Asahel Curtis, Courtesy Washington State Historical Society (1943.42.22226)

628 S Washington Street

Thompson and Thompson architects designed the Astor (SRO) Hotel building for the Cascade Corporation; a company whose corporate owners included Japanese Issei (first generation Japanese American) Kuranosi Hirade and Matajiro Tsukuno. Construction was completed in 1909, and unlike any other building in the district, the four-story mixed-use hotel included the addition of a 400-seat cultural and performing arts theater that would be used for community and fundraising events, showing movies from Japan, and as a venue for international and local performing artists. Admission prices to most events was on a “pay what you can” basis.

The gracious entryway façade for hotel patrons flanked by two commercial storefronts faced 8th Avenue South while the theater entrance was gained through a mid-building doorway on South Washington Street. The proscenium curtain of the theater was decorated with painted advertisements of local Japanese American businesses. Today, that curtain is part of the Tateuchi Theater in the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. The Astor Hotel building was sold in 2005 and is now used for offices.

Walk back to 6th Avenue S and turn left. Walk down the hill to S Main Street. Stop at the northeast corner.

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