1902 - J & M Cafe and Cardroom
The J&M claims to be "Seattle's Oldest Bar" and traces its origin to 1889.
However, this seems to be based strictly on the construction date of the J&H
Hotel, the building where it now resides, and where there was no bar in 1889.
The site further states that owners Jamieson and McFarland "opened for business in Pioneer
Square in 1892." This too seems dubious, as neither Jamieson nor McFarland
are listed as saloon owners in the 1895, 1898 or 1899 Polk directories.
They appear first in the 1900 directory at 207 1st Ave S, i.e. the current
location of the Central Saloon. Some historical sources have stated that
they moved to their current location in 1902, which seems generally
compatible with Polk guides from around that time, which list it at the 207
address in the 1900 though 1902 editions, then list Jamieson and McFarland
at both the 207 and 201 (current J&M) addresses in 1903
(as well as a third location at 115 Washington), and the 201 address for the next
By 1908 the location is listed as owned by "Jamieson and Moffett" with a
McFarland Cafe appearing at 1222 2nd Ave and later at 922 1st Ave (the
buildings from the time at both locations have since been demolished).
Thus I would estimate that the J&M began -- in the sense of its original owners
starting the business -- in 1900 or possibly 1899; and began in its current
location in 1902.
Given how owners buy and sell various bars, often with no visibility to
bargoers, I believe it makes most sense to count only the time in its current
location in the age of a bar, and thus I date it to 1902.
The J&M was closed as recently as 2009, and much of its furniture was sold off,
including the grand, Austrian mahogany bar, which now resides in "Harry's Bar"
on Capitol Hill. The J&M re-opened under new management in 2010.