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Court House Square in Tacoma


A place that never ceases to delight and surprise By Rachel Kelly


The city of Tacoma has a different way of seeing things—seeing what can be and not just what is. It’s why we have the opportunity to enjoy so many historical buildings. There is more than one special place in Tacoma that brings a certain vibe, that has the ability to transport you back. Buildings like the Rialto Theatre, the Grand Cinema, or McMenamins Elks Temple. Streets like Opera Alley or Proctor seem to live in their own world and yet still somehow are a part of the greater Tacoma. Places that have been cared for, repaired or repurposed, preserving its elegance and history for future generations to enjoy. One of those special places is Court House Square. With floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping views of the city as it nestles next to the Sound, Court House Square never ceases to delight.

Court House Square (or the Old Post Office) was built over 100 years ago to house federal agencies such as the FBI, the IRS, US Customs and the US Marshals. This is most likely why it’s made of limestone and has a grand widening staircase at its entrance. Though all of those agencies still exist, and though Tacoma is still the largest port in Washington, we are no longer the international port we once were. Left behind by most federal agencies (except for the old USPS on the main floor), Court House Square has been preserved and repurposed to house a vast array of businesses and restaurants. Because of its five stories, affordable prices and dizzying amount of rooms (72,000 square feet!), Court House Square is quite the place for small business and local entrepreneurs. Read on to get an idea of the sheer grandiosity of this community space.

The basement floor is home to Tacoma’s best-kept secret for lunch: Outpost Sandwiches. This spot has doors that open to the street for simple outdoor seating and serves up an unforgettable pan pizza. I mean, their sandwiches are perfect and also worth the wait. But their pan pizza! It’s inexpensive and sells out quickly for a reason, people! Crispy edges. Fluffy dough. Giant squares. Get a side of soup and you're golden. What else could you want?

You want En Rama. That’s what you want. Craft cocktails, cozy wood-paneled vibe, lighted outdoor seating, gorgeously made and colorfully presented plates … it’s date night to a tee. They open at 3pm Tuesday through Saturday. Next to En Rama, but open during the day, is Lift Bridge Coffee. This café is truly a delight, not just because of the coffee and the conversation but because of the vibe. It’s just plain pleasant to drink coffee next to one of the beautiful windows under the cavernous ceilings. It’s almost the exact opposite feel of En Rama, which is almost intimate, and yet it’s exactly what a person wants in the morning: sunshine, air and coffee.

It’s easy to go on and on about food, but the Court House Square has a lot more going on underneath its roof. The basement also houses (along with sandwiches) a vintage store, The Players Club (a private game room) and Candyteeth Creative (shows, productions, art, etc.), among others. On the second floor there’s Tanya Larson Therapy, Cascade Government Affairs, Green Fern, and the House of Her. The third floor houses the Pioneer Collective, which offers space for coworking, private offices, meeting rooms and virtual business support. Court House Square has space opposite The Pioneer Collective available, with a stunning view of Mount Rainier, for lease through the Court House Square leasing office. The fourth floor is full of businesses, too many to mention in fact. An inept effort to summarize this floor includes: Conquering Today Therapy, Hers Esthetics, and Queendom Thinking / Hearts on Fire. Hearts on Fire was founded by Cecily Crosky to empower young women by teaching life skills, entrepreneurship and community leadership. The fifth floor houses two massage studios, Anchored Vision, Hyak Design Group, and Liftport Group.

There are a lot more businesses worth looking into in Court House Square, all of which are listed on their online directory at CourtHouseSquareTacoma.com. In addition to all this, Court House Square also rents out four large spaces for events. For royal affairs, there’s the elegant Ballroom, which is 2,000 square feet of high ceilings and stunning views. The Gallery room historically housed the post office warehouse but now offers high ceilings, dimmable chandeliers and arched windows. The Historic Courtroom is a truly unique space, as it used to be a courtroom (obviously). The seating is intact with beautiful woodwork. Guests have access to the Judge’s Chambers and a small kitchenette. The Judge’s Chambers (entitled Suite 430) can also be rented separately for small parties or rehearsal dinners.

All of these unique spaces could be rented at once, and most of the guests would most likely not even run into one another. There are separate staircases, entrances and elevators for access. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few secret rooms here and there. Not many places in Tacoma can boast this sort of versatility. There are small businesses, offices, event spaces and restaurants! Once you come in, you may never leave. But that’s okay, it’s not such a bad place to get lost in! What’s even more incredible is that there are still several more spaces available for rent. Who else can we look forward to renting a space here next? Court House Square may soon make a name for itself for being a great place where community businesses can thrive. One thing is for sure: Court House Square deserves a visit.


For more information on catering, events and office/retail space, please contact the director, Jessica Johnston, at JJohnston@PwrProp.com.



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