The Louisa Hotel
Remnants of a forgotten 1920s speakeasy and Prohibition-era murals were discovered in its basement.
In the 1920s and ‘30s, the Louisa Hotel was a deco flapper hotspot for a fun-loving crowd complete with a speakeasy called the Club Royale. It was popularly known as the “Bucket of Blood” due to the fact that beer was served in enormous cups.
To gain entry, visitors would knock and present a membership card through a slit in the door. A secret muraled hallway led from the street down to the illicit basement club.
Fascinating people passed through. Jimi Hendrix’s mom, Lucille Jeter, lied about her age and got a job there as a server. She even sang on occasion. It was certainly a happening place—when the club was raided in ‘31, the music was so loud that patrons didn’t even notice until the pianist was cuffed and dragged off stage.
The club was shut down and forgotten about until 2018, when construction to convert the hotel to apartments began. It was during this time that signage for the club, as well as jazz-era murals, were uncovered when the wallpaper was removed. The paintings offer hints to the progressive nature of the club, as they depict same-sex couples and different nationalities. Original features also include the door, light fixtures, and a banister complete with a button to warn patrons in case the cops showed up.
Know Before You Go
With the exception of occasional tours, the murals are not currently available for public viewing due to their current crumbling condition. The building's owners are working with historians and preservationists to keep this history from fading away. Once restored, the murals will be visible from the sidewalk. Donations are accepted. The Bucket of Blood was just around the corner from the Wah Mee Club, the site of one of Seattle's deadliest mass murders. The site of the club burned down in 2013.
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