Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center

DATE: 1969
LOCATION: Seattle, Washington, USA
OLD USE: Synagogue
NEW USE: Performing arts center


Designed by B. Marcus Priteca and built in 1915, the synagogue served the Orthodox Jewish congregation Chevra Bikur Cholim.[1]


The building was originally adapted as part of the Model Cities Program which was a part of President Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty initiatives. Running from 1966 to 1974, the program focused on improving the coordination of existing urban programs and providing additional funds for local plans. The program’s initial goals emphasized comprehensive planning, involving not just rebuilding but also rehabilitation, social service delivery, and citizen participation.[2]


The City of Seattle purchased the center in 1971 and since then has continued the mission of the Center while updating and renovating the building (1971, 1991, 2003, 2009).[3] The Center is dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, presenting and preserving African American performing arts and cultural legacies. “Created to provide a cultural institution in Seattle’s Central Area, LHPAC has been at the core of experimental, cutting edge, traditional, and emerging art forms for more than 30 years. It has been an essential gathering place for an African American canon of work in a neighborhood that has seen numerous demographic changes over the past three decades. The Center is committed to championing a cultural and artistic voice while building powerful connections with the diverse cultures in the community. This is accomplished through the creation of dynamic performing arts experiences for all.”[4]

[4]Langston Hughes African American Film Festival

Images courtesy of Joe Mabel.