Sorry, wrong funeral home. That one is in Brooklyn. People die there too
Sorry, wrong funeral home. That one is in Brooklyn. People die there too Charles Mudede
The first dead poet I ever saw in my life was in Bonney-Watson Funeral Home. There were no pennies on his eyes, and his lips were sealed. August Wilson was his name. He wrote amazing plays about a black neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He wrote like a man playing the deepest blues on a piano. I'd often see him at the Canterbury Ale House (of all places) composing his black, brown, and beige poetry. And as he wrote, I watched him and thought: One of the greatest black writers of the 20th century is dreaming up black characters and words in the Canterbury Ale House (loud white rock, loud white bartenders, loud white hipsters). Indeed, the natural home of a writer is always exile. And the more extreme it is, the more at home she/he is.

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But even funeral homes die. Twelve years after the death of the poet, and 55 years after opening its doors to the dead, Bonney-Watson decided to give up the ghost. The property has been on the market since spring. It is now autumn, and as the leaves, red and gold, fall on the sidewalks, Mill Creek, a Dallas-based "apartment developer, investor, owner, and operator" is making plans to purchase the funeral home, demolish it, and build in its place a 224-unit apartment.

This is the joint. Bonney-Watson on Capitol Hill. You can only enter.
This is the joint. Bonney-Watson on Capitol Hill. You can only enter. Charles Mudede

According to the best real estate reporter in town, Puget Sound Business Journal's Marc Stiles, Mill Creek sees the thousands of students at Seattle Central College as the primary source of demand. However, it's hard to believe it will build apartments that starving students can afford. Mill Creek means business. The company, which entered the Seattle market in 2013 with the purchase of the mammoth (360-unit/18-story) Archstone Belltown, developed the 135-unit Modera Capitol Hill. The damage for just a studio in that building is $1,736 to 2,958.

I once saw a ghost walking by Bonney-Watson at night (I was drunk, but so was the spirit), and wrote about the incident here. I will miss watching from my office the grayish smoke and heatwaves of cremated people rising from the building's chimney. Where have all the dead gone?