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How the Labor Temple became a retro co-working space

The 81-year-old building is now the Labour Temple, with a “u.”

Seattle's historic Labor Temple in the Belltown neighborhood with the Space Needle in the background

The exterior of the Labor Temple became an official city landmark in 2008.

Photo by Evan Parker Photography via Labour Temple

An old school building in Belltown is starting to feel young again thanks to a recent face lift. The 1942-constructed Labor Temple — once owned + operated by the city’s labor unions — has been restored as a co-working hub. It will receive the 2023 Best Preservation Project Award from Historic Seattle on Thursday, Sept. 28.

How did such a project develop?

History lesson

Back in 1905, the original Labor Temple began as a gathering space downtown at Sixth Avenue and University Street. Decades later, the Temple moved to Belltown, eventually adding an auditorium and extra floor.

In 2008, the building’s exterior — known for its art deco style and solid brick — gained landmark status, but the temple’s utility for organized labor wasn’t as vital. The unions sold it in 2020 with the intention of finding a new temple elsewhere.

An office area with chairs couches, a modern painting, and a window that looks out onto a courtyard.

The Reading Room at the refurbished Temple is available for one-off events and working sessions.

Photo by Evan Parker Photographer via Labour Temple

Working it out

Local real estate firm FAUL stepped in to modernize the building for co-working. It kept much of the temple’s original character, restoring the mahogany doors and freshening up the famed neon sign (also adding in a “u” as a nod to the building’s u-shaped layout).

There’s a spiffy interior courtyard, a reading room that can hold 150 people, and a rooftop terrace. Mid-century modern furniture is sprinkled throughout the premises, almost like you’re walking into an episode of “Mad Men.”

The courtyard in the Labour Temple with people gathered at tables and around a firepit.

The Temple’s courtyard is built for company mixers — or just to chill.

Photo by Evan Parker Photography via Labour Temple

What’s next?

About 50% of the office space is occupied by business tenants, but anyone can rent out the remaining rooms for meetings + events. In a separate project, the Downtown Cornerstone Church is working on constructing a 700-seat sanctuary in the building’s auditorium.

Plans also call for an all-day cafe and market to open to the public in 2024. Our suggestion for a name: Labour Day Cafe (you’re welcome, FAUL).