Seattle Center Armory / Center House History
The Seattle Field Artillery Armory, built in 1939, has stood the test of time, evolving over the many years as a community gathering place and affordable family destination. Originaly built in 1939 as the old Armory Building. It housed the 146th Field Artillery and its half-ton tanks. The basement of the Center House still has markings from the old firing range and an unfinished swimming pool intended for the recruits. In 1941, Duke Ellington played on stage for the University of Washington's Junior Prom.
For the 1962 Worlds Fair, the Armory was reconfigured into the first vertical shopping mall, called the Food Circus. It just pre-dated Northgate Mall, which was the first indoor mall in the United States. In the early 1970’s, the Food Circus was renamed Center House after some minor renovations. In 1985, the Children's Museum moved into the first floor of the building and expanded their space in 1995, building a giant toy mountain for the newly created Kenneth and Maureen Alhadeff Exhibit Center. At the same time, Center House was renovated and reconfigured to emphasize public programming, such as signature events, free family entertainment and cultural festivals. In December 2000, the Kennedy Center designated the Center House Stage as an Imagination Celebration National Site, only the fifth location in the nation to be designated. Today, over 3,000 free public performances occur in Seattle CEnter Armory / Center House each year.