By Peggy Chapman
Northwest Asian Weekly
Oregon has the Willamette Falls Navigation and Locks, and now Seattle has its beloved Panama Hotel as the city’s first National Treasure.
There are approximately 60 buildings, neighborhoods, post offices, even ships (the Delta Queen in Mississippi) declared National Treasures, and now Seattle has its own national treasure in its own International District. It’s by the corner of 6th and Main (or on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet if you haven’t read the book.) Yes, that hotel actually still exists. And it has existed since the early 1900’s.
And now we don’t have to worry about it disappearing. You will still be able to get an excellent cup of tea or sleep on a bed that evokes an era way before now if you want.
April 9 was declared as “Panama Hotel day” by Hyeok Kim, Deputy Mayor, who spoke in behalf of Mayor Ed Murray. The hotel will also be part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose motto is “preserving the places where history happens.”
So why is it a national treasure? There are stories, and stories, stories, history everywhere. There are untouched suitcases, boxes and belongings of Japanese Americans forced into internment during the second World War. Owner Jan Johnson, who purchased the property in the 80’s has kept this basement of history intact. What are the chances of anyone coming to retrieve their belongings at this point? Probably nil. But perhaps maybe extended family can retrieve some of their history if they are able to track it down. For now, the basement is a true testament to the ordeal of of Japanese internment during the second World War.
And the building itself? Johnson has kept it intact. Resting in a room, evokes the sense of what it would have been like in the past.
Not only the basement filled with stories and suitcases filled with history, but the hotel is only one of two buildings in the nation that houses its own traditional Japanese bathhouse. It also the most well preserved
Treat yourself to some tea, jazz, bed rest, and story at the Panama Hotel.
Seattle now officially has it its own National Treasure. (end)
Peggy Chapman can be reached at email@example.com.