You’re invited to the “Fire Muster” this Saturday

April 20th, 2010 Tracy Posted in Fire, West Seattle, White Center Swap Meet 1 Comment »

On the West Seattle/White Center border, the Seattle Fire Departments Joint Training Facility will host the “Fire Muster” for cadets and explorers this Saturday, 9 am-4 pm. According to this post on the city’s Fire Lines site, you’re invited to watch.

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History of Southgate Roller Rink

February 27th, 2009 Ricardo Posted in Businesses, history, White Center, White Center Swap Meet 5 Comments »

White Center resident, writer and historian, Ron Richardson has just penned a history of the building, most commonly known as the Southgate Roller Rink.  You may recall that Ron previously penned a detailed history of White Center. Both articles can be found at website which has a compendium of articles on Washington State history.   The Roller Rink originally started as a boxing gym and, in fact, produced some nationally ranked boxers, including Harry “The Kid” Mathews who went on to fight Rocky Marciano at Yankee Stadium.  To wit some excerpts from Ron Richardson’s excellent and well-researched piece.

The Southgate Roller Rink (now Southgate Event Center) is located in the center of White Center (at 9646 17th Ave SW), a neighborhood of South Seattle. It was originally built by Hiram Green (1863-1932) in 1920 as a boxing arena. From 1937 for the next 70 years it became a roller rink, most recently famous for hosting the Rat City Roller Girls.


Green and his arena established a connection between boxing and White Center.   A regular fighter at the arena was young Al Hostak (1916-2006) from Georgetown.  Over the years Hostak trained, boxed, and tended bar in White Center. In 1939 Hostak won the middleweight championship of the world against Tacoma’s Freddy Steele in front of  30,000 at Seattle’s Civic Field. White Center resident Harry “The Kid” Matthews (1922-2003) kept White Center on the boxing map into the 1950s.  Harry turned pro at the age of 15, hence the nickname “The Kid.” He fought former middle weight champion Al Hostak in two memorable fights, winning one and drawing the second.  Later in his career Matthews defeated Ezzard Charles (1921-1975), former world  heavyweight champion  After 20 years of boxing Matthews record was 87 wins, 7 draws and 7 losses out of 101 fights. His biggest fight was at Yankee stadium in 1952.  Matthews was knocked out by Rocky Marciano (1923-1969), future heavyweight champion of the world. This was a big disappointment, but no disgrace as no one ever did beat Marciano.

Rocky Marciano knocking out "The Kid" Mathews at Yankee Stadium

Hiram Green died in 1932. The Depression took down many an enterprise and boxing in White Center ws no exception. The building passed in to the hands of Green’s daughter, Ethel Green (b. 1909).  Ethel married William “Pop” Brown (d.1969).  William Brown had come from England to the United States during World War I. By 1934 the couple brought in dance bands to replace boxers and the building became a dance hall.

In 1937 Ethel, and ‘Pop’ Brown made a crucial and profitable decision.  They reopened the large hanger like building, calling it the Southgate Rollerdrome.  The name reflected a local attitude in that they considered White Center as the south gate to Seattle.  As it turned out, a large skating rink was the right idea at the right time and in the right place.  Generations of people recall the good times, friendships, skating instructions, and competitions.

And the story goes on to the present.  I invite readers to peruse the piece, as it is full of delightful anecdotes and trove of historical information.   Thanks Ron!

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White Center Swap Meet hours this weekend

December 5th, 2008 Tracy Posted in White Center Swap Meet Comments Off on White Center Swap Meet hours this weekend

They’ve adjusted again — 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday, ex-skating rink (more here). Spend your holiday dollars in White Center/West Seattle!

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White Center Swap Meet: New hours start this weekend

November 28th, 2008 Tracy Posted in Fun, White Center Swap Meet Comments Off on White Center Swap Meet: New hours start this weekend

From the White Center Now Events Calendar: After several weeks in “soft launch” mode, the White Center Swap Meet and Flea Market (in the remodeled ex-skating-rink building) celebrates its official “grand opening” this weekend, with hours changing to better accommodate early shoppers and sellers: It’ll now be open 8:30 am-4:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays.

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