Home to countless artists and the occasional ghost, the El Capitan apartment building is an icon
in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Building owner Alvin Hendricks has long supported the
artistic community in this town through his fair housing. His first priorities in finding new
tenants are referrals and personal interviews from which he’s created a vibrant hive of artistic
I first went inside the El Cap to photograph resident Olivia McCausland for City Arts Magazine,
and she graciously allowed a total stranger into her apartment. As Olivia talked about Mr.
Hendricks and her fellow residents, I was struck by the sense of community in this place.
Together we hatched a plan to document this remarkable building.
Over the past few months, I’ve photographed some of the many residents of the building and
witnessed the way community interacts and helps one another. On some level, these people
are family—a group of talented people inspiring one another and pushing each other to higher
and better directions. The catalyst behind this unique environment, Hendricks has a couple
rules, like 1. Say hello to one another in the hallways, and 2. Attend the annual holiday party.
This past December, Hendricks was in the hospital and his son held up a phone and all of the
residents sang Christmas carols to him.
The affection between Hendricks and his tenants is mutual. Here are but a few of the artists
who currently call El Cap home.
To see more of Mike Hipple‘s work, please visit his website.
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