When two artists bought the vacant building, it was ‘grim and creepy.’ Now it’s not only a home — it’s a communal arts space.
In Seattle, a Grocery Store Becomes a Live-Work Space
Moris Moreno for The New York Times
By Tim McKeough
March 21, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET
A few years after Demi Raven and Janet Galore were introduced by a mutual friend and fell in love, they starting looking for a home where they could live together. But for artists with careers in technology, it was clear that a cookie-cutter house would not suffice.
“We spent some time thinking about what kind of future space we’d like to live in,” said Mr. Raven, 53, a software engineer at Amazon. “And we were aligned pretty closely in that we wanted something atypical and creative.”
“It’s that dream a lot of artists have,” added Ms. Galore, 58, a user-experience design manager at Google. “You want to find a raw space, and something you can build into a live-work space where you can make art.”
Fortunately, the friend who introduced them, Marlow Harris, is not just a matchmaker, but also a real estate broker. And she knew of an unusual building for sale that she was sure the couple would like: a former corner grocery store from 1929 in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle.
The building, which had a retail space on the ground floor and a three-bedroom apartment above with a separate entrance, had most recently been used as an outreach ministry for a church. But by the time Mr. Raven and Ms. Galore saw it in 2015, the ground floor had been empty for years and the upstairs was barely habitable.
Outside, the building’s red bricks were beginning to fall out, as the mortar turned to dust. Inside, there were beaten-up walk-in coolers and leftover commercial sinks.
“It was a little bit grim and creepy, to be honest,” Mr. Raven said.
The decrepit interior was so creepy, in fact, that it inspired the couple’s first art project in the space. “We made a horror movie about it,” Ms. Galore said.
But despite the off-putting elements, the building got their creative juices flowing. “It was very much the size and shape of what I had hoped to find,” Ms. Galore said. “When you walk in the main door of what was the grocery store, you come into this big, 1,200-square-foot room with 13-and-a-half-foot ceilings and big windows.”