Liberty Bank Building

2320 E Union Street

Liberty Bank Building sign, Seattle, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Liberty Bank Building entrance and mural, Seattle, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Liberty Bank Building, 24th and Union, Seattle, August 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Liberty Bank, 23rd and Cherry, Seattle, June 1973, Courtesy Seattle Public Library (spl_wl_bui_00048)
Protesters, Liberty Bank, Seattle, February 15, 1972, Courtesy MOHAI (2000.107.141.14.01)

2320 E Union Street

After witnessing overt racism in city real estate and banking, a Black-led group of Seattle business and civic leaders worked together to establish Liberty Bank. It was the first Black-owned bank in Seattle, opening its doors on May 31, 1968 at 24th and East Union. The bank’s mission was to support the Central District community, helping the neighborhood’s residents of color to access capital to purchase homes and start businesses. Black residents made up 80 percent of the bank’s original pool of stockholders. Twenty years later, Liberty Bank was forced to close. Emerald City Bank took over in its place, and was later acquired by KeyBank. In 2015, when KeyBank announced the closure of this Central District branch, community members organized and purchased the land, preserving it for community use.

The reimagined Liberty Bank Building is the result of a multi-tiered effort led by the Africatown Land Trust. The building is designated for 100 percent affordable housing, which helped mitigate some of the ongoing displacement of the neighborhood’s Black residents. Though the original building was demolished, some elements, such as bricks and safe-deposit box doors, were repurposed to adorn the new structure.

Walk south on 24th toward E Spring Street. Wa Na Wari will be on the west side of the street, closer to E Marion Street.

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