Seattle Home Show History
If history is the best teacher, the Seattle Home Show has been conducting a class in how to build one of the largest and most prestigious shows in the world.
The Seattle Home Show has been able to maintain its continuity with the same family ownership and management, now in the 4th generation, since its start in 1939.
The original founders of the home show (the father and uncle of W. G. “Bill” McDonald) were involved in vaudeville in the 1920s, and did shows for American troops. As the Great Depression deepened, the brothers were commissioned by FDR to produce “Back to Work” events as part of the recovery effort. Through these events, they worked with the home building trades leading to the first home shows.
The first Seattle Home Show, which took place in the old Civic Auditorium, was opened by Eleanor Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst, with the theme “Things look fine for ‘39.”
Son and nephew Bill McDonald took over daily management of the Seattle Home Show in 1951 and continued his involvement for 51 years, retiring from active participation in 2002. Mike and Pam Kalian (Bill’s daughter) had been active in Seattle Home Show management for over two decades, and stepped in to continue the tradition of excellence and service to Northwest home industries and consumer needs. They have worked closely to ensure the show’s success through transition into the current CenturyLink Field Event Center location from the Kingdome and earlier venues.
During the decade following Bill’s retirement, granddaughter Tara Kalian has become an integral part of the Seattle Home Show. Maintaining close relations with exhibitors and adding new and exciting ideas and innovations, Tara works with all aspects of show management.
Employing a personalized approach to each of its exhibitors, and an effort to meet the changing needs of the public, has enabled the Seattle Home Show to survive and prosper when scores of other shows across the country have diminished.