SCUD Building

2412 Western Avenue

Jello Mold Building, Western Avenue, Seattle, ca. 1992, Courtesy Diane Szukovathy
2420 Western Avenue, Seattle, May 27, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Sound View Apartments, 2412-2424 Western Avenue, Seattle, 1960s
Sound View Apartments, 2412-2424 Western Avenue, Seattle

2412 Western Ave

In 1984, Hugo Piottin, who had operated all-ages rock club the Metropolis in Pioneer Square, began looking for a rental building where bohemian artists might pool their resources and settle in. Belltown’s cheap rents seemed promising, and Piottin, videographer Steve Itano, and photographer Cam Garrett were able to lease the 27-room Sound View Hotel, a flophouse supposedly frequented by beat writer Jack Kerouac. Here in 1984 they established the Subterranean Cooperative of Urban Dreamers, which they incorporated as SCUD.

The derelict 1908 building required months of repair and remodeling by the SCUD collective, which also included Louie Raffloer and Ben McMillan. Piottin, who envisioned running a restaurant in a ground-floor space, designed and built Free Mars CafĂ©, which became successful. Other artists and freaks moved in. Artist Diane Sukovathy came up with the exterior art treatment — metal Jell-O molds glued to the structure – earning the building its popular nickname, “The Jell-O Mold Building.” Free Mars was sold in 1987 and soon resurfaced as The Cyclops CafĂ©. Along the way such notables as the Grateful Dead, Iggy Pop, and Kurt Cobain hung out in the building. It was razed in 1998 and replaced with the 133-condo Site 17 complex we see today.

Continue north on Western Avenue to our next stop.

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