Seattle's Oldest Bars

Seattle Bars Pre-dating Prohibition

1) 1890 - Merchants Cafe
2) 1902 - J&M Cafe
3) 1903 - The Virginia Inn
4) 1910 - The Triangle Pub**
5) 1911 - Queen City Grill**
* 1933/1898 - Central Saloon
* 1937/1907 - Jules Maes**

(Click names for more details. See Notes below for age criteria)

**UpdateWith Covid contributing, 2020 appeared to claim the life of 3 of Seattle's oldest bars, with the Triangle Pub, the Queen City Grill, and Jules Maes all shuttering, but Jules happily reopening under new ownership.

Other current Seattle bars in spaces once occupied by bars -- with different names -- before prohibition: Stage, Table In Gallery (TIG), Conor Byrne, Trinity Nightclub, Hattie's Hat -- See details below. In addition, while Von's has only been in its current location since 2013 (and only been named Von's since 1940), it has been a continuously running restaurant, at least, since starting out as Rippes in 1904.

(See also working list of oldest bars in Washington state)

Seattle Area Bars Established Before 1940

1933 Athenian Inn Restaurant since 1909 (1)
1933 Five Point Cafe Opened as restaurant 7/1/1929
1933 The Cabin Not technically in Seattle, but approximately a mile north of the city limits
1933 Hilltop Ale House The original Hilltop Tavern opened in 1933 and closed in 1993; the more upscale Hill Top Ale House opened in 1994)
1933 Mecca Cafe Opened as a restaurant 7/1/1930
1934 April Blue Moon Tavern Note that city and telephone guides of 1934 and 1935 continue to list Blue Moon Cafe on 4526 Roosevelt, from which the current Blue Moon bar's original sign was taken in 1934
1934 The Duchess The Duchess first appears in city guides at its current address in 1937, although it then disappears from 1938 through 1944. A photograph in the bar itself is accompanied by a plate dating it to 1934. The building was constructed in 1926.
1934 Fiddler's Inn The Fiddler's Inn was constructed in 1934 by Walt Haines, who ran the bar for many years thereafter.
1934 The Reservoir The Reservoir Tavern was established in 1934 and is said to have been a speakeasy for years before that. The building was constructed in 1928.
1935 or earlier The Comet Tavern Originally "Wee Deoch and Doris," which appears in the 1936 city guide, it changed to The Comet in 1945; it appears in the 1935 guide under Duncan McKenzie; the structure was built in 1907 or 1910. 1 2 3 Polk City Directories
1935 or earlier Fifth Avenue Tavern This starts appearing in city guides as "Stewart's" in 1935, but is listed as "5th Ave Tavern" by 1938.
1936 or earlier Poggie Tavern The current building dates only back to 1970, but there has been a bar in this location since at least 1934, and it has been the "Poggie" Inn or Tavern since at least 1936.
1936 or earlier Mike's Chili Parlor The web site notes that Mike's was established in 1922 (i.e. during Prohibition) and does not specify how soon they started serving alcohol after the 21st amendment. I suspect it was around 1933 or 34, but so far I've only found it listed under bars ("Taverns") as early as 1936, and this was at a different address across the street (1453 Ballard Way). (It seems to be missing from Polks City Directories, but included in telephone directories.)
1937 or earlier The Shanty The Shanty Tavern goes back to at least 1937, although it was previous located in a couple different locations up the road on Lake City Way. The 1937 listing has "Mack's Shanty" at 8816 Lake City (AKA Bothell Way AKA Victory Way), and it is listed in a few subsequent years under the name of owner Doris McLeod. In the 1941 guide, Mack's Shanty begins appearing at an 8916 address, and then shifts to the current 9002 address around 1948. In at least this last move, and perhaps the previous one, the actual building (constructed in 1932) was moved. It continues to be listed as "Mack's Shanty" into 1960. In 1961 it was purchased from the original owner by current owner John Spaccarotelli, and changed the name to just "The Shanty."
1939 or earlier Wedgwood Ale House Appears in city guides as Hansen's Tavern" in 1939-1944, Then either "Wedgewood" or "Wedgwood" Tavern/Inn/Alehouse ever since 1945

Pre-40s Notes:

Seattle Bars Established Before 1950

1940 OE Caroline Tavern The Caroline itself includes mentions of a start date in 1933, and this Seattle PI blog entry states that "The Polk directory shows the Caroline at that address at least as early as 1937." However, I'm pretty confident that this is mistaken, and that while the bar may possibly date back to 1933, it was at a location on Victory Way (now Lake City Way) until approx. 1940. In the late 30s and early 40s the Caroline was owned by Mrs. Mary McNulty. The 1937 Seattle Polk guide includes no mention of the Caroline or McNulty, but the 1936 through 1939 telephone directories list the Caroline Tavern or a tavern under Mary McNulty at 12341 Victory Way (now Lake City Way). Then in 1940 the telephone directories and eventually the Polk Guide begin to list the Caroline Tavern, Mary McNulty, or both at the current address. It is not unusual for Seattle directories of the time to be missing bars that are so far out from downtown, and I would not at all be surprised to see the that the Caroline does indeed date back to 1933, but I have not yet found any primary sources to confirm this.
1940 or earlier Northlake Tavern The current Northlake Tavern dates their own birth to 1954, when they were in a location up the road that was demolished to make way for the I5 Bridge. But this is curious, since the "Northlake Tavern" had been at that same location (512 E Northlake Ave) throughout the 40s and possibly earlier. A note on the current menu claims that the place dates back to an earlier bar from the 30s and was granted the state's second tavern license. A beer parlor is listed under the owner's name of Edna M. Conley is listed in the 1939 city guide. City guides list the "Northlake Cafe" under Beer Parlors in 1940, and the "Northlake Tavern" in 1941, and variations on that (e.g Northlake Tavern and Cafe) through the 40s. I suspect that the 1954 date was inherited from the set of owners who purchased the place in that year, Herb and Evelyn Friedman. In any case, the current location dates back to 1958 (the renowned pizza service began in 1960), and an earlier tavern of the same name in the 512 location dates back to at least 1940 and possibly very shortly after prohibition.
1940? The Red Onion Tavern The Red Onion appears in city guides starting in 1940 at the address 4222 Madison; sometime between 1970 and 1980 it begins to appear at its current 4210 Madison address.
1941 or earlier Two Bells Tavern The "Two Bells" first appears in Polk guides in 1941. Before that, the Congress Tavern appears in the in 1939 and 1940, and a beer parlor owner's name of Leonard J. Crawford in 1937 and 1939
1942 or earlier Deluxe Bar and Grill A plaque in the current Deluxe describes the place as a Capitol Hill institution since 1934, although at that time it was located up the street and named "McClanahan Beer Parlor" for owner Thomas McClanahan. In 1935 he changed to "The DeLuxe," although the former name is also listed in city guides for the next several years. Sometime between 1940 and 1942 inclusive he moved it to the current location. It was purchased in 1963 by Joe Rogel and Bernie Minsk, and remains operated by Joe's son Barry at this time. Barry Rogel has described it as the first post-prohibition tavern in Seattle, though a number of bars make similar claims, and it seems likely that the first would have begun in April 1933 very soon after the Beer and Wine Revenue Act took effect. (I previously wrote that the address change was probably just an artifact of the Broadway street re-numbering, but this appears to have been in error. Thanks to Loren D. for bringing this to my attention.)
1943 or earlier The Lock Spot The Lock Spot begins appearing in city guides in 1943.
1944 or earlier Lockspot Cafe First appears in city guides in 1944
1945 or earlier 74th St. Ale House A picture in this venue at 7401 Greenwood says the building was constructed 1910 and a tavern started in 1950. However, King County parcel information says that the building dates to 1912, and city guides list Green's 74th St. Tavern at the location starting in 1945. (Greene's 74th St Tavern is listed across the street, at the current location of Herkimer Coffee, in 1942.) The "Orbit Inn Tavern" is listed at this address in 1960.
1945 or earlier North City Tavern Since at least 1945, probably 1933; oldest commercial building in north city (1929)
1948 or earlier The Latona Pub The Latona Tavern begins appearing in city guides in 1948. The first bar I have found listed at this location is the "Put & Take Tavern" in the 1936 telephone directory, which remained until 1944. It was briefly replaced by Beulah's Tavern, before it became the Latona

Pre-1950 Notes:

More Old Bar Spaces that Host Bars Today

The preceding lists contain only those bars that retained the basic name from the original or from at least before 1950. In addition to these, there are a number of bars with different names currently operating in spaces that once hosted different bars before 1950. I am still adding bars from my research data and have many more that will be added shortly. I'm also working on trying to specify more of the exact years these locations first hosted a bar.

1890? Stage Listed under Saloons in the 1905 Polk Guide as the "People's Cafe", but has been identified as John Considine's "box house" the historic People's Theater, since 1890. By 1941 it became The Casino, perhaps the most famous gay bar in the country during the 40s. It is said to have been a speakeasy during prohibition and is linked to the Double Header above, which remains to this day and may be the oldest continually running gay bar in the U.S. From 1994 to 2005 it catered to the goth and fetish crowds as "The Catwalk."
1890? The Diller Room I've not yet found a primary source reference to a bar before 1901, but the Diller Hotel opened here June 6, 1890 and seems likely to have had a bar at the outset. The Diller Hotel Bar officially closed when Washington State prohibition went into effect Jan 1, 2016, but is said to have retained a speakeasy in back of a Chinese laundry maintaind strictly as a front (and indeed the current owners found a stash of bottles of moonshine when they cut through a basement floor). The post-prohibition records are not very clear, but what is now the back room of the bar was the Flamingo Room by at least the mid 60s and into the early 80s. The current Diller Room bar was opened in 2010 and encompasses the old bar area as well as the former front desk area.
1893 OE Trinity Nightclub This building was constructed in 1890 and there are bars listed at this address as early as 1893 (Holden & Green), but I haven't found any in the 40 years after Prohibition. It is listed in the 1908 Polk Guide as the "Pioneer Square Tavern" -- not to be confused with the current "Pioneer Square Saloon" up the street. Other bars previously in the space Trinity now occupies include the Bohemian Café, Velvet Elvis, One Eleven Yesler Tavern, and the Totem Pole Tavern.
1893 or earlier Table In Gallery (TIG) This address, also in the Pioneer Building,, was the Horsehoe Saloon by 1893, and hosted the Alaska Club Tavern by 1944) (Source: Seattle City Guides, SPL)
1898 Conor Byrne "The Owl" appears to have been founded in 1898 and run under some version of the "Owl" name until the early 1990s, when it became Conor Byrne
1898 Percy's This building, constructed in 1898 (after the great fire along this strip in 1895, originally hosted the Ballard Bar. The bar currently in the space is called "Percy's" and serves a "Sankey Sour" in honor of the Ballard Bar owner, Percy Sankey. After Prohibition it was the Silver Spot and then Enger's Fish Knot Inn. It became the Old Town Ale House in 1995, and Percy's in 2013.
1909 Cyclops The Latona Beer Hall was actually at this location since at least 1890, but the current structure was not built until 1909. The Latona continued here until prohibition, and very soon after prohibition the Sunset Tavern opened and remained here into the early 1960s. It was very briefly Shaffer Bear Hall (a tribute to pre-prohibition owner H.S. Schaeffer one guesses) around 1993, and I see no more bar entries until Cyclops moved here in 1999.
1913 Hattie's Hat The origin of this bar is often traced back to the beginnings of the Old Home Saloon in 1900, as the Old Home Saloon/Bar/Restaurant/Cafe/Cigar Store operated at this address for many years after relocating from what is now known as the "Matthes Block," after the saloon's owners (and now hosting the Olympic Athletic Club). However, the structure that now hosts Hattie's Hat and Aunt Harriet's Room bar is believed to have been constructed in 1913, and the Polk guide lists the Ballard Bar at the address in that year (later the Ballard Bar is listed next door at 5233). Thus I consider the start date of the bar space here to be 1913. I've not found the Old Home listed during prohibition but shortly thereafter it begins to appear in Polk guides first under Cigar shops and then under restaurants beginning in 1935. There is no listing for the location under bars during this period, and I do not know if the post-prohibition Old Home actually featured a bar section. In 1955 the building was remodeled for Malmen's Fine Foods, under new owners Gus and Pat Malmgren (yes, their name contained a "gr" that their business name did not). For many of the years that Malmen's is listed under restaurants, there is also a listing for the "Fifty-Two Thirty One" tavern under the same address. Sometime between 1968 and 1970, Malmen's was sold and the new owner reconifigured the restaurant into Hattie's Hat (said to be named after his mother-in-law) and the bar into Aunt Harriet's Room. (The Polk listing changes names in the 1970 edition.)
1913 or earlier Lock and Keel Tavern A saloon was in this location since 1893, said to be the Club Tavern before prohibtion, and the Club Café during. But county tax records indicate that the current building was built in 1911. By 1913 there was a bar here owned by Joseph Finkelberg. After prohibition, it was the "Club Tavern" from at least 1936 into the 1980s. In 1990 it is listed as "Borge's Place."
1934 >Nightjar Although I have not yet found it in city guides until 1937, The Double Header seems to have been around since shortly after Prohibition, upstairs from "The Casino," perhaps the most famous gay nightclub on the west coast at the time (now "Heaven" nightclub). The Double Header was one of the oldest gay bars in the country before it closed Dec 31, 2015, with Nightjar opening in the space in October 2017. (see The Double Header).
1934 Sully's Snow Goose (Previously La Boheme Tavern, then The Bohemian)
1934 Pioneer Square Saloon Begins appearing in city guides in 1934 as Yesler Beer Parlor
1934 or earlier The Re-Bar The "Night Hawk" first appears at this address in the 1934 Polk guide and is listed sporadically under that name until at least 1970.
1934 or earlier The Red Door The current building that houses the Red Door was constructed in 1893, moved from south of the current canal in the 19th century, and then moved again from Fremont Ave to Evantston in 2001. By 1934 it was the Fremont Tavern, which was closed in 1986. It has been the "Red Door" since 1988.
1934 or earlier Nickerson St. Saloon This location begins to appear in city guides in 1934 under the name "Albert Cruver." The name changes to "Jack Gengler" in 1942, then the "318 Tavern" in 1948. The building was constructed in 1928.
1934 Ould Triangle Structure was built in 1932 and appears under Beer Parlors in the 1934 Polk guide (owned by Ivan McKinnon, bar name unknown). It was Mack's Tavern from the the 40s into the 60s, The Score Card Tavern in 1970, and O-Zone in 1980
1935 or earlier (9 Million This was the "Triangle Tavern by 1935 until 1986. It was the "Classic Tavern" in the latter 80s and 90s, and re-named the "Triangle Lounge" from 1998 through 2009.) Building constructed in 1926.
1935 or earlier 95 Slide This structure was built in 1920 and begins showing up in city guides as the "Harvard Tavern" in 1935 and remains under that name into the 60s. In 1970 it was the "Forun Tavern." By 1980 it was the "Brass Door," later the Brass Connection, and lead the migration of the Seattle gay scene from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill. It has also hosted Blu, The War Room, and the Hunter Gatherer Lodge
1935 or earlier Back Door Pub This building was constructed in 1927. The first bar I have found at this address is one owned by Frank Galianese in 1935. By 1945 it was Jim's Tavern in 1945, which was there at least through the rest of the 40s. By 1970 it was Ed Delby's Tavern, and was The Back Door by 1980.
1935 or earlier Belltown Pub City guides first list a bar here in 1935 under "The Rheine." By 1990 it was listed as simply "Belltown," was modified to the "Belltown Bistro" by the owners of the BluWater Bistro chain from 2005 to 2010, the re-opened as the "Belltown Pub" in 2010
1935 or earlier Boxcar Alehouse This appears as "Kenyon's Side Track Tavern" in 1935. By the late 40s it is known as just the "Side Track Tavern," and in 1970 and 1980 it is listed as the "Ty-Up Tavern."
1935 or earlier Changes Tavern By 1935 the "Looking Glass Beer Parlor" occupied the address currently housing this U-District gay bar, and it remained under the "Looking Glass" name into the 50s. By 1968 it was "The Anxious Asp," in the 70s "The Rat Hole," in the early 80s, "The Loading Zone," in the later 80s "The Bus Stop," and finally "Changes" in 1989.
1935 or earlier Eastlake Zoo The Eastlake Zoo has been at this location since 1974, in a building constructed in 1924. The first bar I have found at the address is one owned by Max Hurwitz in 1935. It was Hank's Tavern in the 50s and 60s.
1935 or earlier HulaHula This building was constructed in 1929 and the "Midway Tavern" first appears at this address in the Polk Guide in 1935. It has since hosted the Tic Toc Tavern, Arthur's A Fine Pub, Romper Room, and Watertown
1935 or earlier The Iron Bull The Polk guide of 1935 lists the Picture Palace Tavern at this location, constructed in 1925. and "The Checkerboard" or "Checkboard Tavern" by 1948 and into the 1960s. By 1970 it was the Rat Hole Tavern, and possibly later in the year became the Iron Bull. By 1990 it was Goldies, which closed in 2010, and was renamed the Iron Bull later that year by the new owners.
1935 or earlier Knarr Tavern City guides list Hansen's Tavern (or owner Henry Hansen) here in 1935. It was Bailey's Tavern by 1939 and into the latter 40s, and U-Way Tavern by 1960 By 1970 it was the Knarr.
1935 or earlier The Lava Lounge The first bar I have found so far at this address is the "First Up" from 1935 to 1944. In 1945 it becomes "Feeley's Tavern" which it remains for the rest of the 40s. It is the "Golden West Tavern" from at least 1960 to at least 1970, and the "Hawaii West Tavern" from at least 1980 to 1990 or later. It became the Lava Lounge in 1995.
1935 or earlier Mars Bar (NOW CLOSED) This bar adjointed to Cafe Venus was the Eastlake Tavern by 1935, which it remained into the 1970s. By 1980 it was a rough joint for sailors and later punk bands as The Storeroom, which closed in 2001
1935 or earlier Olde 99 Pub The "Meet Me Here Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1935. It was also the Greenlake Ale House, and the Kangaroo and Kiwi until 2012
1935 or earlier Mission The building currently housing Mission on California Ave was constucted in 1924, although it probably did not contain the upper floor at the time. It starts appearing in city guides under James Robinson or his "Jim's Tavern" in 1935 and continuing into the 70s. In 1980 it is the "Rainy City Tavern" and in 1990 the "Caddyshack Tavern."
1935 or earlier Park Pub This Greenwood Ave address lists "Richie's Inn" in 1935, then the "Duck-Low Inn" from 1945 to 1949, and again (still?) in 1970.
1935 or earlier Pazzo's I'm not sure Pazzo's should really count as a bar, but by 1935 there was a bar in this building owned by Charles Haines. The building was constucted in 1924 and it was "Quinn's Tavern" through the late 40s. In 1970 and 1980 it was "Skipper's Tavern" and in 1990 "JC Fox & Sons."
1935 or earlier Rat and Raven "The Century" first appears at this address in city guides in 1935. It remained the Century into the 80s and was recently the "Irish Emigrant" before R&R
1935 or earlier St. Andrews St. Andrews on Aurora Ave was established Oct 26, 2005 in the previous location of the "Lion's Lair." The structure was constructed in 1927, and there is a bar listed here in the 1935 Polk guide under owner Rudy Brown. By 1948 it is the Greenlake Tavern, which it remains into the 1960s. It became the Lion's Lair by 1970.
1935 or earlier Sunset Tavern This Ballard structure was built in 1900. It appears in city guides as "Chet's Log Cabin" 1935-1939, then Chet's appears to move one door down for the 40s, into the current location of La Carta de Oaxaca.
1935 or earlier Tim's Tavern There was a tavern here owned by John "Jack" Perry by 1935, and it was named "Jack's Tavern." By 1948 it was owned by H.W. Mackey and called "Mackey's Tavern." It was the One Hundred Fifth St. Tavern through the 70s. Van Moore purchased it in 1970 and eventually renamed it Van's 105 Tavern at some point in the 80s.
1935 or earlier Wild Rose A bar owned by Neil C. Riley is listed here in 1935. In the 40s it was LaChateau Café, and in the 60s and 70s it was the Chamber Tavern. In the early 80s it was the Sundance Tavern, and opened as the Wild Rose on Jan 1, 1986.
1935 or earlier WingMaster's This was "Davented's Tavern" in 1935. I have found no listings in the late 30s or early 40s, but in 1945 it begins appearing as "Club Two Hundred," which continues into the 80s. In 1990 it is listed as "Tor's Tavern."
1936 or earlier El Norte The current building was constructed in 1921 and the bar I have found at this address is the Rebel's Inn in 1936. Names of bars in this location since then include Chuck's Tavern (1948), Margie's Tavern (1960), B&E Tavern (1970), Chuck and Mary's Tavern (1980) and by 1990 the Rose Garden (closed 2010)
1936 or earlier Fusion Ultra Lounge The "Rainbow Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1936, and it remains under that name until the mid 40s. In 1970 it is listed as the "Sandpiper Tavern" and by 1980 it had returned to the "Rainbow Tavern."
1936 or earlier Leary Traveler Polk shows Carl's Tavern here in 1936, then "Harvey's Tavern" from at least 1942 into the 1990s.
1937 or earlier Jade This rock building on Aurora Ave near 90th was constucted in 1993. The 1937 Polk guide lists a beer parlor there owned by Mrs. Hazel Goforth. By 1943 it was the "White Stone Tavern" (sometimes listed as "Whitestone"), which it remained at least into the 70s. In 1980 it is listed as the "Brooklyn Bridge Tavern," and in 1990 it was "Traveler's III," a popular hang-out for native Americans.
1937 or earlier Ravenna Alehouse Polk directories show a bar in by 1937 owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Bisson. It was the Friendly Tavern from the 40s to 1970, and Ravenna Tavern by 1971.
1937 or earlier Leny's The current structure was built in 1928 and "Cozy Spot" is listed here under Taverns in 1937. "Hansen's Tavern" is listed in 1939 and into the early 40s, folllowed by "Howard's Tavern" from the late 40s to 1959, "Zepp's Tavern" starting in 1960 to 1969, and then Leny's in 1970.
1937 or earlier Parliament Tavern The Happy Hour Tavern begins to be listed here in 1937 and remains through 1973. Ye Olde Hour follows from 1975 through the early 80s, followed briefly by Luther's Pub, TNT's Place, Shipwreck Tavern, and Vidiot. In 2015 Vidiot moved to the former Benbow Room space in back and the front became Parliament Tavern.
1937 or earlier Roux This was famously the location of the Buckaroo (originally "Little Buckaroo" since 1938, with another bar there owned by William Carr listed there since at least 1937.
1938 or earlier Dante's "Pete's Barbecue" is listed at this location under Beer Parlors beginning in 1938 and continues to be listed here until 1955 (although in the latter years it is under Restaurants and not Taverns). By 1957 it was the "Maple Inn," listed under Taverns until 1965. Dante's opened here in 1966, and although it is closed at this writing due to an electrical fire, the owners do plan to re-open. The building was constructed in 1924.
1939 or earlier The Angry Beaver This building was constructed in 1927 and a bar owned by Harvey Mashinter is listed here in 1939. By 1942 and continuing into the 70s, it was "The Central" or "The Central Tavern" (not to be confused with the Central Saloon in Pioneer Square). It was subsequently "Yo'Babes," "The First Edition" in the 80s, The Winners Circle in the 90s, and The Pig and Whistle from 1995 to 2012
1939 or earlier Barking Dog Alehouse The Polk guide of 1939 lists a beer parlor at this address owned by Edward Hern. It lists no bars again until 1948-49 when it was "Mick and Art's Tavern." By 1970 it was the "70th Street Tavern and remained that until at least 1990.
1939 or earlier The Crescent Tavern The building was constructed in 1924 and by 1939 it was housing the "Arterial Tavern." By the 1948-49 Polk Guide it was named the "Crescent Tavern."
1939 or earlier Eastlake Zoo The current building was constructed in 1924 and the first bar I have found is one owned by Joseph Carroll (bar name unknown) in 1939. It is "Mack's Tavern in 1946 and at least through the 40s. In 1970 it is the "It'll Do Tavern" and it is the "Eastlake Zoo" by 1980.
1939 or earlier Il Bistro "The Hideout" first appears in city guides at this address in 1939 and remains into the 70s. It has been Il Bistro for the last 30 years.
1939 or earlier Joe's Bar and Grill The first bar I've found located at this building (constructed in 1926) is one owned by Mrs. Ko Nishiyama in 1939. By 1948 it was the Combination Tavern, and in the 50s and 60s it was the Red Front Tavern (which later moved one block north to Jackson). It is also listed as Johnson Corner Tavern in the 60s, and eventually (?) Joe's Bar and Grill.
1939 or earlier Loretta's Northwesterner Structure was built in 1918; by 1939 there was a beer parlor listed in city guides as owned by Mrs. Lou Mansfield; by 1948 until 2005 it hosted Kelly's Tavern -- though Kelly's appears to have been across the street at some point in the 80s
1939 or earlier Mel's Tavern (NOW CLOSED) The current structure was built in 1928 although Milton "Mel" Roe has expanded it considerably. There was a bar there by 1939 owned by Mary Byrne, and by 1948 it was the Club Tavern, which it remained into the 60s, becoming Mel's in 1969
1939 or earlier Molly Maguire's The Woodland Tavern existed at this address by 1939 and remained into the 1970s. It was the Rinkidink in 1980 and the Flip Side Tavern in 1990.
1939 or earlier Pub at Piper's Creek The 1939 Polk guide lists a beer parlor owned by Mrs. Frances M Hall at this address (the building dates to 1931). Names of bars that preceded Piper's Creek include the "Viewlands Tavern" in the 40s though the 60s, "The Playhaus," "Bob's Goodtime Tavern," and "The Crazy Norwegian."
1939 or earlier Roanoke Park Place Tavern City guides list the Dutch Tavern at this address from at least 1939 to 1970 or later. It appears to have become the Roanoke sometime between 1970 and 1980.
1939 or earlier T-Bird Tavern This location on 15th NW was a bar owned by Peter Olson by 1939 and named the "Pilot House Inn" by 1941. It was the "Thunderbird Tavern" by 1959. The building was constructed in 1936.
1940 Al's Tavern First appears in city guides in 1940; confirmed opening year
1939 or earlier Bar Del Corso This building was constructed in 1926 and by 1939 there is a bar listed under owner Victor Campbell In 1944 it first begins to appear as the Beacon Tavern, which it remained until 2010
1941 or earlier McCoy's Firehouse Appears listed as the "Green Spot Tavern" in 1941, then the "Silver Star Tavern" from 1942 into the 70s, and "Maddie's Corner" subsequent to that.
1941 or earlier Pacific Inn Pub The "Square Deal Tavern" begins appearing at this address in telephone directories in 1941 and remains all the way into the 80s. By 1990 it is named "Pacific Inn."
1941 or earlier Place Pigalle The "Lotus Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1941 and changed to Place Pigalle sometime in the 50s
1943 or earlier The Lamplighter The current building was constructed in 1940 but the first bar I've found at the address is Art's Tavern in 1943-44, through at least 1948. By 1970 it was the "Sundown Tavern" and changed in 2010 from that to "Sweet Lou's."
1943? Bookstore Bar The "U.S. Tavern" appears in the 1943-44 Polk guide at this address, and again in the 1948-49 edition, though not intervening editions.
1945 or earlier Ballard Grill & Alehouse "Ben's Tavern" is listed here in 1945 and through at least the 40s. It is Duffy's Tavern in 1970 and 1980.
1945 or earlier Aquabar 2234 and/or 2236 3rd Ave are associated with the "Liberty Tavern" from at least 1945, and was "Kelly's" from 1979 to 2010.
1945 or earlier Kort-Haus Tavern The "68th St. Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides from 1945 into the 60s. It is the "Kort-Haus" by 1970.
1945 or earlier The Eagle The "East Pike Tavern" appears at this address in city guides beginning in 1945. by 1960 it was Gordy's Tavern, by 1970 The Odyssey, by 1980 Le Chateau, and by 1990 the Seattle Eagle
1945 or earlier 418 Public House "Johnny's 65th Street Tavern" begins appearing at this address in 1945. Additional names have included Ben's Tavern (40s), Dan's Tavern (50s-60s), Hagar's Tavern (80s-90s), Reading Gaol (90s-2011)
1945 or earlier Lottie's Lounge This is in a building constructed in 1892. In 1903 it became the Hotel Dakota, and then the Columbia Hotel from 1904-1920, hosting the likes of Bullalo Bill Cody. It was the "Bright Spot Tavern" from at least 1946 into the 1970s, and was "Slim's Tavern" in 1980.
1945 or earlier Santa Fe Cafe "Walt's Tavern" is listed at this address from 1945-1949. In 1970 and 1980 it is listed as the "Happy Time Tavern."
1945 or earlier Taqueria el Trompo Loco This was the "Camel Inn" Tavern from 1945 into the 70s. In 1980 and 1990 it is listd as the "Side Track Inn."
1945 or earlier Victory Lounge "Green Tavern" begins appearing at this address in 1945. Additional names have included Mr. Ed's Tavern (70s) and Lobo Inn
1946 Olaf's The web site claimed it was established in 1946, which is consistent with city guides listing it in the first edition after 1946.
1947 The Funhouse (NOW CLOSED) The building was constructed in 1947 and "Tex's Tavern" is listed here from 1948 and into the 90s
1948 or earlier The Thirsty Fish This building was constructed in 1927, and in 1948 it begins to show up as "Nicky's Tavern" or "Nicky's Holman Road Tavern," which continues int the 1980s. Also later the "Ridge Pub" and then "Acorn Eatery" 2001-2009
1948 or earlier Crown Hill Pub This space on 15th NW housed the Sunset Inn in 1948. In 1970 it is listed as the "Terminal Tavern" and as "Glaser's Terminal Tavern" in 1980. In 1990 it is "The Watering Hole." The building was constructed in 1927.
1948 or earlier Local 360 This location has hosted bars since at least 1890, but the current building was constructed in 1930. The "J.R. Hammond Saloon" was there in 1890 and a saloon owned by J.w. O'Brien in 1905. In the late 40s, the Liberty Saloon moved here from the 3rd Ave location later occupied by "Kelly's" and now by the "Acquabar." The Liberty lasted into the 80s, and in 1995 it became "Flying Fish," which moved to South Lake Union in 2010.
1948 or earlier Mack's Triangle Pub This was the Swallow Tavern in 1948. It was also Nick's New Tavern in 1970 and the Triangle Tavern by 1980.
1948 or earlier Tractor Tavern The "Melody Tavern" first appears at this address in city guides in 1948, in a building constructed in 1902
1949 The Hurricane (NOW CLOSED) The Dog House was actually established in 1933, but only moved to the building currently housing The Hurricane in 1949. (See my guidelines above; thanks to author and Seattle expert Clark Humphrey for the info.)


Some bars further outside Seattle: Though they are a bit too far from the Seattle city limits for me to include on the list above, here are a few more old area bars that I am interested in.

General Notes

I am fairly confident at this point that I have compiled substantially more data and research on the existence of bars in Seattle and Washington state than anyone else -- surely anyone else who is publishing online or by any other means. Online and print articles I have seen on this topic have, without exception, included a large number of errors and omissions, demonstrable with data from primary sources that I have collected.

That said, attempting to rank the age of bars not only presents problems with limited data and sorting through urban myths passed down through generations of owners and staff (and subsequently printed by the press), it also requires one to make some fairly arbitrary definitions as to what constitutes a single bar. Does it count as the same bar if preceding bars had different names? What if it was out of business for ten years? What if it moved? What if is in the same building moved to a different location, or the same location in a different building?

For example, many bars will date their age back to the first bar that occupied the current space, regardless of what the previous names were. But using this approach would imply, for example, that the the techno dance club The Stage is one of the two "oldest bars in Seattle." I think most of us would balk at this characterization.

In the "full list" I have provided I have included various data to try and clarify and assist people who may use their own criteria, but I generally use the following:

  1. The first year that a bar was operating in the existing building with the same basic name.
  2. The bar must have retained it's basic name for the majority of its history, going back to at least 1950. (Variations on "Saloon," "Cafe," "Tavern," "Bar," "Grill" and etc. are ignored for this point.)
  3. Bars must have operated relatively continuously in the space, i.e. with only interruptions of a few years with the exception of prohibition (which was Jan 1916 through Dec 1933 in Washington state)

For example, I count the founding date of Jules Maes to be 1937, as that was the year that Maes first started to operate a bar in the current building. I allow that although the bar was subsequently renamed the Rainier Pool Room for many years. I also note that bars of different names and owners appear to have existed in the building since 1907, should people prefer that criterion. (The much repeated origin date of 1888 appears entirely unsustainable, as the building wasn't even constructed until 10 years later, I've found no evidence of any bar at the location at the time, and Maes himself was not in America at the time.)

In another example, I date the start of the Queen City Grill as 1911, as that was the year that current brick structure opened. But given that the Queen City Saloon existed in a different (wooden) building in the exact same location at least as early as 1891, others may reasonably conclude that the current bar dates back to this time. On the other hand, since the current owners purchased the former home of the divey "Queen City Tavern" and revamped it in 1987 to the upscale "Queen City Grill" restaurant (which retains a bar), you could just as easily choose to define it as relatively new. As I said, one must make some fairly arbitrary definitions.

Notes on Sources Of course along with the problem of defining a start date, getting accurate historical data is problematic as well. I have relied primarily upon contemporary newspaper articles, Polk Seattle City Guides, and telephone directories. I have also used hearsay from bartenders and owners, dates on old photos in the bars themselves, blogs, and online sources such as All of the preceding have their imperfections and do not uncommonly conflict, but I continue to assess what appears to be the most reliable information from the various sources, esp. primary sources, and update this page as I learn. See the Jules Maes page for an example of how I attempt to resolve these.

The vast majority of my data is stored in a massive spreadsheet that I have not yet made public, but am happy to answer questions and delighted to receive any new data.

If you have any corrections, additions, or other information on Seattle area bars built before 1950, please e-mail to

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