Unbeknownst to most Kenmore residents, a fascinating historic advertising curtain, painted and installed just after the end of World War II, is carefully rolled up and stored out of sight above the stage of Kenmore Community Club. It is rarely unrolled for fear of sustaining further damage.

Advertising curtains—also known as Grange Hall curtains—are in a category by themselves, and are characterized by their local advertisements. These drops usually combine the romance of a central scene and possibly some painted drapery, but are dominated by advertisements for tractor dealers, funeral parlors, banks, restaurants, and other local businesses. They have interest as early examples of business support for the arts.

The actual date of installation of KCC’s historic curtain is guesswork, but a bit of sleuthing helps narrow it down. First, notice the phone numbers were all six digits, which were used from the 1920s through the 1950s. Six-digit phone numbers were phased out c. 1960.

The curtain has an ad for Kenmore Air, which was founded in 1946. Bert Lindgren’s Dance Hall burned down in 1956. The most telling evidence is the ad for North Seattle Air Park, which was in business only four years, between 1948 and 1952.

So we can safely assume the curtain was painted and installed in the late 1940s, shortly after the end of WW II. This makes the curtain about 80 years old, and in need of restoration, which requires the time and talent of experts, and comes at a price. Should KCC decide to restore and preserve its fascinating piece of history, it is hoped our Kenmore community would pitch in to help fund this worthwhile effort.

There is a movement in many parts of our country to restore and preserve these interesting pieces of history. https://www.curtainswithoutborders.org/

 

Washington State has a few examples of these historic curtains. Check this site to learn about those in Port Townsend and Chimacum: https://www.ptleader.com/stories/chimacum-grange-reveals-1930s-curtain,64914

 

Kenmore Community Club’s historic advertising curtain, c. late 1940s – Photo by Jo Ann Evans, 11/7/2002