On August 30, 1953, the Russian Community Center opens at 1632 17th Avenue in Seattle. The small frame building, remodeled by volunteers, serves as a reading room and meeting place. In 1960, the center will move into the Roycroft Theater at 704 19th Avenue.
Russians came to Seattle in several waves. The first was just prior to World War I. The second wave was the result of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and civil war. By 1925, there were approximately 5,000 Russians in the city. The immigrants embraced their new home, but they clung to their heritage. Many second-generation Russians still spoke their native language. Two Russian Orthodox churches were founded in Seattle, St. Spiridon and St. Nicolas.
A third wave of immigration came after World War II. Many White Russians settled in China during the 1920s. At the time of the Chinese Revolution of 1948, thousands fled to the Philippine Islands and South America. In 1950, Congress acted to allow these people to immigrate to the U.S.
In 1962, there were 6,000 persons of Russian background in Washington.
Janice Kenmayr, "Seattle's White Russians Have Rich Cultural Heritage," The Seattle Times, February 25, 1962, Magazine Section, 12-13; "Russian Community Center Opens Here," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 28, 1953, p. 17.
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