Save Black Dog Forge, the Belltown Basement Where Pearl Jam, Soundgarden Got Their Start

An historic Belltown basement where bands like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam got their start is being threatened with sale of the property, which would likely lead to development.

The Black Dog Forge, with its hallowed basement practice room, is currently leased and co-owners Louie Raffloer and Mary Gioia learned on May 18th that they had just two months to vacate the building. The building owners are putting it up for sale. “(I) nearly threw up everything. We were standing in the middle of 25 tons of art supplies. We were very nauseous about that,” Raffloer said.

Raffloer and Gioia operate a blacksmith forge above the basement, and rent the practice space to bands to this day.

For 25 years, the 30-foot basement practice room has been used by artists and musicians including Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, The Briefs and Presidents of The United States of America. “At the time in Belltown, there were bands making noise coming out of windows on every block,” Raffloer said. “There were clubs that blared music out to the street. There was never a class of people that was here to be offended.”

But now this beloved space may be looking at its last days. However, members of the artistic and musical communities are fighting to save it. Charity Drewery, host of Stalking Seattle: A Rock and Roll Tour (which tours the basement and other music landmarks around the city) is attempting to raise money via a GoFundMe in order to buy the building and save it. But with the real estate market as it is, their chances are less than slim. As of the date of this post, only $5,790 of the $4 million goal has been raised.

Drewery has hope, however, “There’s so much money in this city, there’s got to be somebody that would be willing to buy this place and continue to lease it to them,” Drewery said.

Featured photo source: GoFundMe

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