Historically known as the Beacon Hill School, the building that is now owned by El Centro de la Raza was built in two phases and later renovated in 1931. The architecture was ahead of its time and remains mostly intact today. However, the school was forced to vacate and relocate to a more modern facility because of the growing student population. At the same time that was happening, people of color experienced limited access to education and other community resources because of cultural and political factors.
There was no longer a commitment to the War on Poverty. Students at South Seattle College whose English as a Second Language classes were defunded by the Nixon Administration then took action. What that looked like was a peaceful multiracial occupation of the abandoned building. This event pivoted the Chicano/Mexicano movement to the forefront of the minds of local elected officials and school district personnel. Our building quickly became a symbol of Seattle’s Chicano/Mexicano movement. The resulting direct connection with the Chicano/Mexicano community was recognized as a significant contribution to Seattle’s history. It is an honor to be listed as one of the most significant buildings in American history. This recognition helps preserve our building for future generations of which to be a part. Our building’s symbolic value is a timeless representation of multiracial unity during times of peril and prosperity.
We are a thriving hub for all communities to engage in civic action, celebrate culture through art, and increase community sustainability through transit-oriented, mixed-use development. Our 43 programs and services span across five major areas: Child & Youth, Human and Emergency Services, Education and Asset-building, Housing and Economic Development, and Community Organizing and Advocacy. Our on-site amenities include a dual language childcare center, 112 affordable housing units, commercial spaces, and a cultural center available to the community for rental. Visit us and tour our building. We would be happy to share more rich history with you and show our historic building’s murals that narrate the Chicano/Mexicano community’s movement over time.