There are four church buildings within the boundaries of northeast Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood from NE 75th to 95th Streets, and each church congregation has had different locations, buildings and names over the years. The names and the patterns of use show the changes in how churches have interacted with the community.
From Morningside to Wedgwood
The church with the longest history in the neighborhood is Wedgwood Presbyterian, which began as the Morningside Sunday School by or before 1915. At first it met in a residential area on NE 92nd Street. Then for twenty years, from 1926 to 1947, Morningside met at 9505 35th Ave NE, present site of the Northeast Veterinary Clinic.
During the 1920’s residents thought that the intersection of NE 95th Street and 35th Ave NE would develop into a major commercial center. There were some small stores at the intersection, but the businesses struggled and stayed small through the 1930’s economic depression and the limitations on consumer goods during the 1940’s war years.
After World War Two ended in 1945 the population of northeast Seattle grew rapidly and churches bulged with young families. The Morningside group decided to move and build a new and larger building, and they changed their name to Wedgwood Presbyterian Church when they built at their present site, 8008 35th Ave NE in 1951. The church’s history at the corner of NE 80th Street has been continuous since then, with no more moves or name changes but the building has changed, having been enlarged and improved in stages.
The Wedgwood Presbyterian Church building has heavy use every week with its open-door policy of hosting community activities. Many different kinds of groups ranging from the Scouts to the Seattle Audubon Society use meeting rooms at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church for their activities and classes. Music recitals, weddings, funerals and community informational meetings are all held in this busy building.
From Log Cabin to Our Lady of the Lake
The church with the second-longest history in Wedgwood is Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church. OLL’s present address at 8900 35th Ave NE is its second site and its third building. The church was founded in 1929 as the Chapel of St. Ignatius, on the west side of 35th Ave NE at about NE 81st Street, in a log cabin build by the previous landowner, Mr. Thorpe. The Chapel of St. Ignatius was not a parish but was informally served by Jesuit priests who traveled out from Seattle University to hold Mass on Sundays. This arrangement came into being because the Jesuits were considering moving Seattle University to the site.
By 1940 the Jesuits had decided not to move Seattle University out to what is now Wedgwood, and they sold the forty-acre property to Albert Balch, a developer. This tract, from NE 80th to 85th Streets, 30th to 35th Avenues NE, was platted by Balch for the original group of Wedgwood houses.
Because of the sale of the log-cabin chapel property, the Catholic Diocese arranged to buy another site and they started Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church at the corner of NE 89th Street in 1940.
The first Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church building at 8900 35th Ave NE had a very short life: it was torn down in 1960 to build the present, larger church structure. For this reason, even though Our Lady of the Lake is the second-oldest church congregation in Wedgwood with its 1929 founding date, its present building, completed in 1961, is the newest church structure in Wedgwood. It also has the newest addition to a church building in Wedgwood, the Jubilee Hall.
From Green Lake to Wedgwood
The Wedgwood Community Church at 8201 30th Ave NE has a name which reflects the modern trend of a community-friendly name which does not mention affiliation with a denomination. The church does have a Baptist affiliation, and the congregation has had three locations and four different names.
The church started out as Green Lake Baptist in 1907, located on NE 72nd Street on the east side of Green Lake. When that building burned down in 1921, the congregation built at 901 NE 75th Street, a prominent brick building which today is still very visible, right next to the southbound on-ramp to Interstate 5.
In the 1950’s the congregation, which had changed its name to Calvary Baptist, thought that their building site was in the path of the construction of the Interstate 5 freeway, so they built anew at their present site in Wedgwood. Changing their name again because of the new location, the church was called Wedgwood Baptist from 1953 to 1994, and is now the Wedgwood Community Church. This name reflects the desire to have outreach, and the church is known for its activities such as a recent rummage sale with proceeds to help Seattle’s food banks.
From Maple Leaf to OneLife
A church which has had several name changes was originally called Maple Leaf Baptist at 3524 NE 95th Street. Built in 1954, in the neighborhood at that time there were other Maple Leaf references, including Maple Leaf Elementary School on NE 100th Street and across the street from the school, Maple Leaf Lutheran at 10005 32nd Ave NE.
Over time, the original Maple Leaf Baptist building at 3524 NE 95th Street has hosted several different congregations. In 1972 the Brookhaven congregation came from 43rd & Brooklyn in the University District when they sold their building and merged with the Maple Leaf group. They brought their name with them, so that 3524 NE 95th Street became known as Brookhaven Baptist. In 1994 it was decided to change the name to Anchor Baptist as part of a revitalization effort. The new name was chosen from a Bible verse, “we have this hope as an anchor of the soul.” (Hebrews 6:19).
Ten years later, the Anchor Baptist Church decided to reorganize, and they moved away. After they moved out of 3524 NE 95th Street in 2004, the building was for sale. They were approached by various entities who wanted to redevelop the property, but the Anchor Baptist group refused to sell to any but another church. Two groups have used the building since then. The present congregation which bought the building in 2012 is called OneLife, affiliated with the Assemblies of God denomination.
OneLife currently has an outreach to young families with children, who are the most likely age group to attend church for the benefit of activities and associations with other families. The OneLife building is home to a preschool and a drama program, and it hosts meetings of the Wedgwood Community Council.
Church interaction with the community
While Our Lady of the Lake is the only Wedgwood church which has a school, all of the other churches in Wedgwood have many activities and they also host community groups which use their building. Church members are involved in community activities such as Scouts and they are neighborhood activists in development issues and environmental concerns. Church members find that the outworking of their faith in God is to act with Christian values in the community. Within the boundaries of Wedgwood between NE 75th to 95th Streets there are not any other publicly-accessible meeting rooms such as a library or community center, and the churches of Wedgwood have stepped into that role of service as meeting places.
Another nearby area church, Messiah Lutheran at 7050 35th Ave NE also has a school, called Concordia Lutheran.
The history of University Unitarian Church at 6556 35th Ave NE is told in another article on this blog, along with the origins of the Congregation Beth Shalom building at 6800 35th Ave NE.