Just like that - it was gone. An electrical fire gutted the
building at Second Avenue and Bell Street on May 18, 2001,
putting an end to a storied Belltown place. Constructed in
1925 as the Seattle Taxicab Company headquarters and
garage, the two-story brick warehouse was designed by
architect Louis Svarz (1886-1976). It was home to various
taxicab and auto-related companies through the 194os.
During the next several decades it housed theater operator,
Higgins Amusement Company, and Pacific Auto Rebuild.
Seattle's original Display & Costume Supply occupied the
space during the 1970s and 80s. Seattle Building Salvage
moved in during the early 1990s. The historic 211 Billiards
Club occupied the second floor from 1987.
In 1995, Mike Apgar, his wife Gretchen and his brother Tyler
opened the Speakeasy Café. It was Seattle's first internet
café and one of the first in the United States. The Café
brought together coffee, culture and computers with a
mission to "provide a service that is not simply entertaining,
but educational, enlightening, and most of all empowering."
The Café housed a cocktail bar, an get gallery and a small
experimental performance space. The civic and artistic hub
in the re-emerging Belltown neighborhood, it was a place for
tech workers, artists, poets and musicians. The 2001 fire
up the inevitable, times were changing and the Café
was set to close. The building was demolished in 2005, and
in its place stands 206 Bell, a commercial and residential
building that opened in June 2013.