This is how The Crescent Ballroom appeared in August 2000.
Our Webmaster took this photo in January 2001
Do you have a photo of how it appeared in its heyday?
Fortunately, this building still stands, but for how long? Once the premiere haven for live music and dances in Tacoma, it is now a derelict building being threatened by the wrecking ball. Many of the old 50's and 60's dance halls from Puget Sound no longer exist. Should this historic place also be allowed to disappear?
We are in the process of compiling a list of the bands that performed at The Crescent Ballroom throughout its grand history. If you know of or had a band that played here, have a flyer or advertisement for gigs at The Crescent Ballroom, or remember seeing a particular band perform at this establishment, please let us know and we will add their name to the list of bands that performed here. Send any information to our Webmaster.
Some of the bands that played at The Crescent Ballroom were:
Little Bill and the Bluenotes
Butthole Surfers (1980's)
Jerry Lee Lewis
Jan and Dean
The King's Men
Paul Revere & The Raiders
Tiny Tony & The Statics
The following article concerning the Crescent Ballroom appeared in the August 8, 2000 issue of the Tacoma News Tribune.
The News Tribune, Tuesday, August 8, 2000
LETTERS & OPINION
Your Voice: Tacoma shouldn't let Crescent Ballroom die
By BON HENDERSON
The loss of the Evergreen Ballroom was a huge blow to the Northwest music community. It is indeed sad to see a building with that much history burned to the ground, especially at a time when the Experience Music Project is working to enlighten people on the great contributions made by local musicians. We mourn the fact that future musicians and fans won't be able to take advantage of this wonderful and rare facility. The number of ballrooms built only for that purpose, with wooden floors designed to withstand the movement of hundreds of dancing patrons, has reached near extinction. It is devastating to lose another. Unfortunately, as awful as the destruction of the Evergreen Ballroom is, there is something happening in Tacoma that rivals it. This is not a spectacular event like the Evergreen blaze. It goes on quietly year after year. But if this situation continues, we'll lose another one. The once spectacular Crescent Ballroom sits decaying on the corner of 13th and Fawcett. This building has every bit as much history and as many memories as the Evergreen did. For decades thousands of people flocked there to dances. When rock ‘n’ roll hit Tacoma the Crescent Ballroom was the spot for now famous bands like the Wailers, Sonics, Little Bill and the Bluenotes, Paul Revere and the Raiders and The Kingsmen to play. These are the same musicians who have been given their own Northwest wing at the EMP museum.
Recently, during a Northwest reunion show, legendary KJR deejay Pat O'Day told the audience the Crescent had been such an important part of Northwest music history it should be saluted every time it was passed. The old ballroom had a last gasp in the late ‘8Os with bands like Green River and Soundgarden that went on to have as much success as some of their ‘60s counterparts.
The Crescent's future looks grim. The windows are mostly busted out, and it appears that transients often occupy it. The “for sale” sign doesn't give much hope that it will be preserved for the next generation of performing artists and fans. The real estate agent suggests that one side of the building could be made into offices, but the actual ballroom should be torn down for parking.
At a time when city revitalization seems to be a higher priority, shouldn't something be done to save Tacoma's last real ballroom? The Evergreen and the Crescent: a quick death or a slow one. There is no difference. The outcome will be the same.
Bon Henderson is a Tacoma resident.
"I remember seeing some really cool bands there. The Wailers, of course, the Dynamics, the Statics, and one of the very best of the Northwest bands when they were in their prime, the Frantics. I'll also never forget the time the early, pre-Roslie, Sonics backed up Leslie Gore there. She had a big hit then called "It's my Party and I'll cry if I want to." She was 16 years old, and her mother traveled with her. It was the first time the Sonics played at the Crescent, and we thought that we had really made the big time."
Andy Parypa, The Sonics, 23 December 2000
"Hey, they can't tear down the Crescent Ballroom. That is where Dad met this really cute Swedish girl (Mom) in 1942. It is also where I went to my first live rock band gig with the Wailers. Pat O'Day almost beaned me with a 45 record he threw into the crowd. Besides, I consider the Crescent Ballroom the true epicenter of the NW rock and roll explosion... Ground ZERO."
Sammy Carlson, The Regents, 23 December 2000
The following article concerning dilapidated building in Tacoma appeared in the Tribnet (Tacoma New Tribune) on 4 February 2001:
Reducing the neglected nine to the tattered two...
Downtown upgrades: Code revisions give city key tools for putting a new face on deteriorating core area
Jim Szymanski; The News Tribune
A few years ago, downtown Tacoma's worst eyesores were referred to as "the neglected nine" by officials at the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce.
The buildings' landlords, some of whom lived out of state, became so lax in caring for them that the city boarded up most of the buildings as deterioration neared the point of no return.
Frustrated, chamber and city officials began a cleanup campaign. They changed building codes to give the city more leverage to force landlords to either reinvest in dilapidated buildings, or sell them to somebody willing to do so.
"We needed a new way of doing business," said Gary Pedersen, manager of the city's building and land-use division. "We figured most of these buildings could be redevelopment opportunities."
Pedersen figured correctly. Two years after the cleanup campaign began, the neglected nine are down to the neglected four, or more charitably, the neglected two.
Today, though he admits to frustration with the remaining two owners, Pedersen considers the cleanup campaign a success.
The Luzon Building at 1302 Pacific Ave. is to be remodeled into a small hotel, starting this year. The empty Woolworth building at 950 Commerce St. is being remodeled to attract technology companies. Buildings at 1502 Pacific and 1537 Pacific will be demolished as the city prepares to build a new convention center. The empty former Polar Bear Tavern at 1113 Broadway also has been demolished.
Sauro's Cleanerama, 1401 Pacific Ave., closed last month and owner Pete Sauro has put the building up for sale. John Kist, who divides his time between Tacoma and Arizona, has put the former Eagles Building at 1304 Fawcett Ave. on the market.
"We wanted to make office space out of it, but our plan didn't turn out to be feasible," Kist said. He said too many vacancies and a softening economy discouraged him from spending money on the building. Instead, Kist said he hopes to make his money selling it.
The two most stubborn cases downtown are the former Crescent Ballroom at 1302 Fawcett and the former Elks Building at 565 Broadway.
Ping Shaw, who owns the ballroom, could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts. Pedersen said Shaw is appealing fines the city has levied against him because of the building's dilapidated condition, including windows shattered by
Shaw's real estate broker, Rudy Kolar, said Shaw is reluctant to spend money on the ballroom because it hasn't attracted many interested tenants.
"Spending money on a building no one wants to rent is pouring money out of your pocket for nothing," Kolar said. "For someone like Mr. Shaw, if he remodeled the ballroom without interest in it, he could start calculating when he'd go bankrupt."
Not only is remodeling the ballroom a risk in a basic financial sense, Kolar said, it's difficult to get a construction loan for such a structure.
The Elks Building near downtown's Old City Hall has been empty at least as long as Oakland, Calif., investor and developer Ron Zimmerman has owned it, 12 years. He has it for sale, with a steep $3 million asking price.
A deal to convert it into a conference center recently fell through, although Zimmerman said four other unidentified potential investors are interested in the building.
Responding to prodding by city inspectors, Zimmerman has had graffiti removed from the building and secured it better to keep vagrants out. He's not inclined to budge from his asking price.
"That's my price," he said last week. "And frankly, if an offer from Tacoma never amounts to what I'm asking, I don't care."
We were the first local (rock) band to play there (1956)
Bill Englehart, Little Bill & The Bluenotes, July 2014