Larsie Mae Freeman, AKA Freebird, painted a mural on the back wall of The Crescent.
Larsie Mae Freeman, AKA Freebird, painted a mural on the back wall of The Crescent. Marc Anderson

Every couple of days I go for a walk around Capitol Hill, passing my favorite normal-times hangouts and dreading the sight of plywood and a “thanks for all the great memories” message scrawled on the wood. The last year has been like a gradual Rapture, with some of Seattle’s best institutions vanishing overnight, and with each passing day of quarantine I fear for the safety of those that remain.

The Crescent, you’ll be glad to hear, has been holding on. “The Crescent Lounge is absolutely planning on reopening when it is safe,” writes Marc Anderson, manager of the decades-old institution on the slope of Olive Way. “The saving grace for the bar is that the owners own the land the Crescent is on. Being the oldest gay and dive bar in the city … since 1948, their father was smart and lucky enough to be able to purchase it when he started the business.”

While we wait for the grand reopening, The Crescent isn’t twiddling its thumbs. Between fundraisers to help out-of-work staff, the bar’s been working on renovations, and once the doors open visitors will find that there have been a few changes.

One of the biggest upgrades has been to the behind-the-bar area, pouring new concrete to replace a section of floor that was falling apart. They’ve also replaced the beer coolers, which were over thirty years old and in perilous condition. (Me too.) The layout’s been adjusted slightly, and there’s a shiny new countertop. Next on the renovation list is a brand new stage, but that project may have to wait a while longer, Marc says.

If you’ve passed by the building, you’ve probably seen changes to the outside as well. There’s a new community mural on the back wall, and it’s quite lovely — worth a wander over, the next time you’re strolling the hill to alleviate cabin fever.

“We had planned to repaint the outside again so this will def happen before we reopen,” says Marc.

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The finished work.
The finished work. Marc Anderson

In the meantime, the bar’s been applying for grants and holding fundraisers to support out-of-work staff. “People have been very generous and I constantly reach out to our staff and some regulars through media and phone to make sure they are doing ok,” Marc says. “The staff are anxious to get back to work. … Most of our staff are doing ok, but some of our regulars were in between jobs, or some customers had recently moved here, and … have trouble getting coverage.”

There’s no word yet on when small businesses like The Crescent can reopen — it largely depends on when infection rates go down, which depends on the speed of vaccinations, which depends on federal distribution, which depends and depends and depends and depends.

“When we finally are able to reopen,” Marc says, “you can bet it will be one big party for sure.”