The History of the Highland Park Improvement Club

September 6th, 2012

By Martha & Bob Mallett

The pioneer residents that moved into the Highland Park area decided they needed a meeting and social center. Tall trees had to be cut down and the land cleared. Volunteers started the construction of the foundation. The building construction consisted of a basic structure, which included the dance floor, which had no roof until the following year. The kitchen and the restrooms were closed in at that time. Thirty-six inch wide platforms were built in order to accommodate chairs for the patrons to sit when they were not dancing. This structure was privately funded. It was not until a year later they were able to complete the building. The HPIC building was then completed with a stage, dance floor, two restrooms and a kitchen.

Highland Park Way back then was merely a dirt road at the conception of the club. There was a streetcar that ran from Walgreen’s in White Center North on 16th Avenue SW, East on SW Henderson, North on Ninth Avenue SW and the West side all along West Marginal Way to Spokane Street. Then one was to take another streetcar to get to downtown Seattle.

The Highland Park folks were very committed to improve the neighborhood but they also wanted to appease the desires of the members when it came time to socialize on Saturday nights. Every Saturday night in the olden days, the club would have a card party until 10PM. The alarm clock was set to go off at 10PM sharp and then the dancing would begin. The card game winner would receive a donated gift from a local merchant. Alcohol was prohibited at the club building and a raffle was held at every one of these “Socials.”

The original building has two doors to the restrooms facing the dance floor. The doors needed to be changed and improvements and updating had to be taken care of. Two major additions to the club have taken place since the original structure was built.

In order to raise funds for the first major renovation in the early 70’s, the club issued interest accruing bonds to those that wanted to invest in a “good thing.” The bonds were retired on a priority basis; the members would draw straws at every meeting to retire their bonds one by one.

Now we come to the era when bingo was very popular and Bingo halls started to sprout up. A Drum and Bugle Corps rented the HPIC building three times a week. That smoke-filled room filled the treasury of the club to a point where the second large renovation could take place. The west wall could then be widened and the stage larger. This work was done by a private contractor and completed in 1981 under the supervision of Bill Barich and Bob Mallett.

The Highland Park Improvement Club was once called the Dumar- Outland Improvement Club when the founders drew up their by-laws and submitted incorporation papers to the state of Washington. Those that signed on the dotted line for Washington State Incorporation and for the Non-Profit Community Club on November 28, 1919 were:

L.E. Bennett                    Frank H. Bennett
Esther A. Bennett        C.D. Lewis
Joseph J. Auman         W.A Wolamott
Sophia M. Auman        Stephen Peters
E.L. Parker

The original address for the Highland Park Improvement Club was 7723 13th Avenue SW. Presently, it is located at 1116 SW Holden Street. The date is unknown when the address change took place.

The Dumar-Outland Improvement Club changed the name to the Highland Park Improvement Club when the city started to name the districts. The name change took place on November 14th, 1924.

HPIC will be ninety years old on November 28, 2009. To those that came before us…………. We thank you!

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