Celebrating Community Through Third Places

Nominate Your Third Place!

You are invited to nominate your Third Place to be celebrated as a community builder! Submissions will be shared here on our website and on social media: @WashingtonMainStreet or @PreserveWA on Facebook, and @PreserveWA on Instagram.

This is a non-competitive recognition program, operated by the Washington Trust, to provide information on and celebrate beloved community hubs separate from DAHP’s Third Places Fund grant. We are now accepting nominations on a rolling basis, with submissions being pooled on the 1st of each month (e.g., submissions received by November 1 will be highlighted throughout November, until the next round begins on December 1). Questions? Email Jonelle.

Nomination form

Third Places Are Critical to Community

What are Third Places? They are informal gathering spaces outside of your home (“First Place”) and work (“Second Place”) where you connect with others. Third Places are where people come together to exchange ideas, build relationships, and create a shared feeling of belonging in a community.

This year has been full of challenges and one of the most unique has been how we connect with each other while social distancing and staying safe. For a community to have a sense of place, that feeling of belonging you share as equally with friends as you do with strangers in your favorite downtown locale, there has to be somewhere you can go to connect outside your home or work—especially if your home and work are now the same place! What communities need right now are Third Places. Want a quick explanation of the term Third Place and where it comes from? Click the video below!








Third Places – where people can gather, put aside the concerns of work and home, and hang out simply for the pleasures of good company and lively conversation – are the heart of a community’s social vitality. Third Places encourage people to build relationships which have been shown to strengthen place identity, improve long-term community health outcomes, and promote economic resiliency. Socially connected adults are healthier and live longer than their isolated peers, and Third Places encourage social interaction across all segments of community.

Third Places can be civic buildings (like libraries), public spaces (like parks and squares), or businesses (like pubs or bookstores). Small businesses that function as Third Places tend to be especially likely to utilize adaptive business strategies that make them hyper-responsive to local markets and ultimately more resilient and sustainable in the face of change. Exchanging stories and local news at informal gathering places creates a shared community narrative and bridges the history of a downtown to its present and future.

Interested in all the details? Pick up a copy of Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community or get a copy of Celebrating The Third Place, the follow-up anthology edited by Oldenburg, at your local bookstore.

Join us in celebrating the many Third Places across Washington by nominating your local Third Place!

October – Third Place Staff Picks

Look for updates each Friday in October to see the Washington Trust staff pick their Third Places!

Third Place: Colville Street Patisserie, Walla Walla 

Website: www.colvillestreetpatisserie.com

Staff: Jonelle McCoy, Main Street Specialist

Patisserie owners David & Tiffany

What makes your Third Place special to you?

I moved to Walla Walla last year and in the first few months I discovered the Colville Street Patisserie. Whether it was the delicious desserts, local art hung on the walls, or cheerful pre-COVID hum of conversation that drew me in it’s hard to say but it quickly became one of my favorite places to be downtown. At this point, it’s where I take my out-of-town friends before exploring the rest of downtown, has provided cakes for two of my birthdays, and even now (with appropriate COVID-19 restrictions) is the place I go for working coffee-dates and end up running into folks I haven’t seen since March. The Colville Street Patisserie made me feel at home in a new town and continues to be the place where I connect to my community! Thank you Tiffany, David, and crew!

How is this Third Place an anchor in your community?

Owners Tiffany Cain and David Christensen have created a downtown hub welcoming to everyone: children excitedly pointing out every pastry and gelato flavor to their parents, college students discussing assignments or quietly reading alone, retirees planning their work-free adventures or second act careers, old friends reminiscing, and working professionals in espresso-fueled brainstorms. Beyond being a place where a cross-section of Walla Walla’s community gathers, the Colville Street Patisserie always has flyers and posters of community events you can peruse while putting honey in your tea, the owners intentionally buy from and promote local growers and roasters, showcase local artists on their walls, and continue the lively use of a historic building in Walla Walla’s downtown district.

Third Place: Bluebeard Coffee, Tacoma

Website: www.bluebeardcoffee.com

Staff: Jennifer (Jay) Mortensen, Outreach Director

What makes your Third Place special to you?

Bluebeard is my go-to place. It’s the place we go when we want to go for a walk or get out of the house. Whether it’s meeting up with a friend or doing a little work on my laptop, I know I can get a great cup of coffee, be comfortable, and feel welcome. When I go there, I feel like part of the community.

How is this Third Place an anchor in your community?

Bluebeard is an anchor of the 6th Avenue business district, and really is the heart of the district. It is the spot where everyone meets up and you can often run into someone you know. Additionally, Bluebeard is a staple across the whole city. Their coffee is served in many restaurants and other businesses across Tacoma—they are a household name.

Third Place: Cone & Steiner General, Capitol Hill Seattle

Website: www.coneandsteiner.com

Staff: Alexandra Gradwohl, Project Manager

What makes your Third Place special to you?

Cone & Steiner is a small, eclectic neighborhood market that I visit nearly every day. From fresh coffee and sandwiches to locally-made candles and gifts to unique snacks and great beer, Cone & Steiner has everything I need to get me through the week. I love stopping by for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up during the workweek or a breakfast sandwich to bring on weekend adventures. I really appreciate seeing the same friendly faces behind the counter day in and day out and chatting about neighborhood goings on. Especially since I started working from home, Cone & Steiner has become a great place to connect with my local community.

How is this Third Place an anchor in your community?

Cone & Steiner provides our pocket of Capitol Hill with a friendly place to shop local and connect with their neighbors. Folks from the surrounding blocks will stop by throughout the day (often accompanied by furry friends!) to pick up this or that, and usually stay for a chat. Their outdoor seating provides a great space to enjoy your lunch or drink coffee and people watch. They also serve as a pick-up spot for CSAs and sometimes hand out free treats provided by other local businesses! In a neighborhood that often feels a bit overwhelming, Cone & Steiner helps make this sleepy corner of Capitol Hill more friendly and approachable.

Third Place: Tractor Tavern, Ballard Seattle

Website: www.tractortavern.com

Staff: Cathy Wickwire, Operations Manager

What makes your Third Place special to you?

I love listening to live music but haven’t always made it a priority to attend concerts. A few years back, a friend and I made a pact to go to more shows. While it’s a thrill to see a marquee band like Dave Matthews at the Gorge Amphitheatre or U2 at CenturyLink Field, there’s nothing like the intimacy of seeing what may be the next big thing at a small, local music venue. You show up, get your hand stamped, and wait for the performance to begin. The Tractor Tavern hosts an eclectic array of music that runs the gamut from Grateful Dead tribute bands to rockabilly to socially-conscious singer-songwriters. It welcomes fans of all ages to its two connected storefront spaces lined with exposed brick walls. It’s one of those places you feel instantly at home with strangers who you enjoy spending the night with swaying, dancing, and singing along.

How is this Third Place an anchor in your community?

The Tractor Tavern has thrived in the heart of historic Ballard Avenue for over 25 years. It has served as a popular venue for local acts and hosted touring artists from around the country and around the world. Sadly, the last show I attended was in January before the pandemic closed the space in March 2020. The Tractor has since been involved in the national effort to Save our Stages (#saveourstages) and the recently launched campaign to Keep Music Live in Washington (#keepmusiclivewa). These efforts recognize that independent venues are the hub of our music ecosystem and serve as vital cultural and economic drivers for local communities.

Third Place: Roanoke Inn, Mercer Island

Website: www.theroanokeinn.com

Staff: Chris Moore, Executive Director

What makes your Third Place special to you?

The owner, Dorothy Reeck, has kept everyone happy by retaining the original character of the Roanoke. Very little has changed from its early days and the whole vibe remains as a wayside roadhouse. Because of her efforts, King County recognized the Roanoke as a Legacy Business – an honor well-deserved given the Roanoke’s role as a vital Third Place for locals and visitors alike.

How is this Third Place an anchor in your community?

We all know that longstanding businesses serve as heritage markers in much the same way as historic architecture. The Roanoke Inn on Mercer Island distinguishes itself as a Third Place for both these attributes: built in 1914 the Craftsman structure is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and it has been a go-to gathering place for Islanders for over 100 years. George McGuire envisioned a place for wayward visitors arriving at the Roanoke Dock at the north end of the island: he established a chicken-dinner inn and called it The Roanoke. During prohibition, the bar managed to flout the authorities by serving alcohol in coffee mugs and when prohibition ended, the Roanoke became a classic tavern, and sold groceries, ice cream, and soda. In 1943, Edwin and Laura Reeck purchased the inn, adding a full menu along with beer and wine. Dorothy Reeck, Edwin and Laura’s daughter-in-law, has been running the Roanoke for nearly 30 years, carrying on the tradition of her in-laws.