Thank you for your interest in this Saturday Speaker Series presentation! We hope you enjoyed this informative discussion with Jan Johnson and will consider joining us for future events.
Built as a “workingman’s” hotel in 1910, the Panama Hotel and Tea House currently serves as a historic place to stay while visiting Seattle. The hotel has been remarkably stewarded—it was declared a National Historic Landmark building in 2006, and designated a National Treasure by the National Trust For Historic Preservation in 2015. However, there is a bittersweet history associated with the hotel.
Belongings from Japanese American families have been gathering dust here since 1942. That’s when the families rushed to store their possessions in the Panama Hotel after President Roosevelt issued an order to have Japanese Americans rounded up and sent to camps. “These people were all Americans and they were interned, with no due process,” Johnson says. She wants to ensure the hotel is preserved as a reminder of the city’s once bustling Japantown, part of what's known as the Chinatown International District, and the sad history of Japanese American families—a kind of “living museum.”
Speaker bio: Jan Johnson bought the Panama Hotel from Takashi Hori in 1985. An artist and fashion designer turned historic preservationist, she is dedicated to protecting and running the Panama Hotel built in 1910.
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