As an excavator tore into the green-and-white awning of the old Earl’s Cuts and Styles barbershop in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood, Earl Lancaster filmed the moment with his phone.
“There it goes! There she goes, my baby,” said Lancaster, the founder and owner of Earl’s Cuts and Styles, which transcended doing haircuts long ago to become a community hub.
Lancaster started the barbershop in 1992, at the other end of the shopping complex on the corner of 23rd Avenue and East Union Street. He moved it into the Midtown Center building in 1996, and closed that location in early 2019 as the building prepared for demolition.
After a temporary stint in The Central, a mixed-use building across 23rd Avenue, Lancaster has moved into his gleaming new location in the Liberty Bank Building, near The Neighbor Lady pub and Uncle Ike’s pot shop.
“I’ve been blessed,” said Lancaster. “I’ve been in the right place at the right time.”
With help from Seattle University, Capitol Hill Housing and the Africatown Community Land Trust, he said he’s had a relatively smooth transition, compared to some of the other tenants of the building.
“It was trying, it wasn’t easy,” he said. “They kept me in the loop.”
A small group gathered on the corner to watch the barbershop’s section of the strip mall come down. Iese Ionatana, who has lived in the Central District since 1990, put a hand on Lancaster’s shoulder as the walls came down in rubble.
“When you’re young, you think it’s going to last forever,” Ionatana said.
Jason Moore, a barber at Earl’s Cuts and Styles, spotted his station being torn down as the inside of the building was revealed.
“My grandma used to pull up and give me 10 dollars to get my hair cut,” Moore said. “Earl gave my son his first haircut.”
He said the growth of the neighborhood has its positives. “I’m fortunate enough to be part of the new change.”
“It feels good. It’s a bittersweet feeling,” said Lancaster. “I outlasted the building.”