The Roberson on Ledger Square is truly at the heart of Tacoma’s Theater District with four distinctive venues: The Pantages, The Rialto, Theater on the Square and the Grand Cinema just a block’s walk away.
Dating back more than one hundred years, the neighborhood has been home to more than two dozen theaters. The Tacoma Opera House and Pantages Big Time Vaudeville were early venues in a time when virtually the only public entertainment was on stage. The likes of Sarah Bernhardt, Will Rogers and Babe Ruth walked through the stage doors during an era when live performances packed the house. Opera Alley wove through the Theater District with its own robust brand of “Off Broadway” performances.
Before there was radio or television, thousands would gather in front of a large sign board posted on the Tacoma News Tribune and Ledger Building on St. Helens to view the likes of World Series, boxing and election results. As Vaudeville gave way to the silent screen then talkies generations filled the seats for theatrical performances, movie dates and musical presentations. The images of marquee lights glowing in the night and reflected on rainy streets provide an iconic portrait of Tacoma’s “stepping out” to engage the best in arts and entertainment. That is the feeling that resonates through the decades and why the Theatre District now represents center stage of Downtown’s most dynamic residential neighborhood.
Ten years ago, when seasoned developer Fred Roberson was beginning work on the Harmon Lofts, most people thought he was crazy.
What a difference a decade makes.
Now people consider Fred to be the father of Tacoma’s urban living revival.
Roberson was raised in Bryn Mawr, Washington in the 1930s. He served as a 16-year-old merchant seaman during World War II and a soldier during the Korean War. When he came home, home became Tacoma. Fred bought his first property at 1502 Tacoma Avenue a house he converted into a small apartment building. He leveraged his equity to build a 10-unit complex. Dozens of apartment and office buildings followed over the next 40 years, including landmarks such as The Carlton Hotel, The Harmon Lofts and The Fraternal Building.
Named for the man who helped make downtown Tacoma living chic again, The Roberson carries on Fred's tradition of giving new life to classic neighborhoods. Co-anchoring the Ledger Square District with The Vintage Y and the Municipal Building, The Roberson is designed to be a new architectural landmark.