On March 23, 2019, a child and a reverend hoisted up ceremonial giant scissors and cut the ribbon in front of Liberty Bank Building, marking the momentous opening of 115 affordable homes in the Central District. It has been one year since the building opened, and the community within remains as strong as the showing on the day of the ribbon-cutting.
Michelle Purnell Hepburn, community leader, is the daughter of one of the founders of Liberty Bank. Here she displays historic photos of the original building. Liberty Bank opened in May of 1968 at 24th and Union as the first black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1968 as a community response to redlining and disinvestment in Central Seattle, Liberty Bank operated in the Central District for 20 years. The bank provided essential financial services to people and businesses who were otherwise unable to obtain them. Liberty Bank represented resilience and empowerment and stood as an example of a community’s solution to systemic, institutional racism. The Liberty Bank Building was a community-led development to address displacement in the Central District. A historically black neighborhood, the Central District was a hub for the African American and African diaspora communities that called it home. The multi-story mural painted on the outside of the Liberty Bank Building was designed by Al Doggett. The mural reflects the vibrancy of the spirit of the Central District. Future residents sign an apartment lease. A high school student sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at the Liberty Bank Building ribbon-cutting ceremony. The song is the Black National Anthem, and some of the lyrics include “Lift every voice and sing, til earth and heaven ring, ring with the harmonies of liberty.” Michelle Purnell Hepburn watches the proceedings of the ceremony. Al Doggett, one of the lead curators of art in the Liberty Bank Building, embraces a friend at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Kristi Brown poses with her son and business partner, Damon Bomar. Their restaurant is under construction at the Liberty Bank Building. It builds off Kristi’s wealth of experience with her catering company, That Brown Girl Cooks! Community members gather to celebrate the opening of LBB on March 23, 2019. The Liberty Bank Building ribbon-cutting ceremony was attended by over a hundred members of the community. Esther Ervin and Al Doggett in the lobby of the Liberty Bank Building. The two co-curated the art collection inside and outside the building. The pieces pay homage to the history of the site, the original Liberty Bank, and the chronicle of the Central District. Photo by Kevin Scott. Community members in the resident lounge at the Liberty Bank Building. Photo by Kevin Scott. Earl Lancaster, owner of Earl’s Cuts and Styles, signs a lease with Christopher Persons, CEO of Capitol Hill Housing for a new space at the Liberty Bank Building in the Central District. After nearly 30 years of business at 23rd and Union, the legendary barbershop moved across the street into the new building. Photo by Yosef Kalinko. Earl’s Cuts and Styles officially opens in one of the commercial spaces at the Liberty Bank Building. A recap video of the Liberty Bank Building ribbon-cutting ceremony.