Churches and Changes in Wedgwood

Crossing 80th at W Pres

Wedgwood Presbyterian Church

There are four church buildings within the boundaries of northeast Seattle’s Wedgwood neighborhood from NE 75th to 95th Streets.  Each congregation has had different locations, buildings and names over the years.  The names and the patterns of use of the buildings shows 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 in the Morningside Heights plat, one of the earliest developed housing areas where people began to live in Wedgwood. Then for more twenty years, from 1926 to about 1951, Morningside Sunday School met in a building at 9505 35th Ave NE, present site of the Northeast Veterinary Clinic.

During the 1920s Wedgwood residents thought that the intersection of NE 95th Street and 35th Avenue NE would develop into a major commercial center.  That area was then called Maple Leaf or Morningside.  There were some small stores at the intersection, but the businesses struggled and stayed small through the 1930s economic depression and the limitations on consumer goods during the 1940s war years.

Church groundbreaking ceremony at NE 80th Street (undated photo circa 1949).

Church groundbreaking ceremony at NE 80th Street (undated photo circa 1949).

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 they changed their name to Wedgwood Presbyterian Church when they completed a new, larger building in 1951 at their present site, 8008 35th Ave NE.  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.

The original 1950 plans for the new Wedgwood Presbyterian Church building at 8008 35th Ave NE were filed by architects William J. Bain, Harrison J. Overturf and Edwin T. Turner.  The 1957 addition to the building which added rooms on two levels, was by John Graham & Company.

Crimson King Norway Maple on South Lot of Wedgwood Presbyterian Church

Crimson King Norway Maple on the Grassy Lot at NE 80th Street

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.

Wedgwood Presbyterian also owns the Grassy Lot at the southeast corner of the intersection of NE 80th Street on 35th Ave NE.  This open space is used for parking and has an area for enjoying the outdoors at a picnic table.  The Scout Troop which is sponsored by the church has a compost area in one corner and they help to maintain the property.  The open space is used by many groups during the year for outdoor meetings, garden sales and social activities.

From Log Cabin to Our Lady of the Lake

Mr. Thorpe's log cabin as it looked in the 1930's after the Jesuits began holding Mass there.

Mr. Thorpe’s log cabin as it looked in the 1930’s after the Jesuits began holding Mass there.

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.

The first Our Lady of the Lake, completed in 1941, was this small brick structure designed by architect Paul Thiry. Image courtesy of the Seattle Historical Photographs Collection, #18245, Seattle Room, Central (downtown) Seattle Public Library.

The first Our Lady of the Lake church building, 1941, was this small brick structure designed by architect Paul Thiry. Image courtesy of the Seattle Historical Photographs Collection, #18245, Seattle Room, Central (downtown) Seattle Public Library.

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 building, pictured at right, was designed by modernist architect Paul Thiry.

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.  The present building was designed by architect Roger J. Gotteland.

Our Lady of the Lake also has the newest addition to a church building in Wedgwood, the Jubilee Hall, which is a larger multipurpose social room.

From Green Lake to Wedgwood

The brick church building on NE 75th Street next to the southbound freeway on-ramp

The brick church building on NE 75th Street next to the southbound freeway on-ramp

The name of the Wedgwood Community Church at 8201 30th Ave NE reflects the modern trend of a 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.

Wedgwood Community Church at 8201 30th Ave NE

Wedgwood Community Church at 8201 30th Ave NE

In the 1950s the congregation, which had changed its name to Calvary Baptist, thought that their building would be in the path of construction of the Interstate 5 freeway, so they built anew at their present site in Wedgwood in 1955.  Changing their name again because of the new location, the church was called Wedgwood Baptist until 1994, and is now the Wedgwood Community Church.  This name reflects the desire to have neighborly outreach, and the church is known for its activities such as rummage sales with proceeds to help Seattle’s food banks.

From Maple Leaf to OneLife

A church building 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.  At present the Lutheran church is the only building which retains the old Maple Leaf reference.

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).

OneLife Church at 3524 NE 95th Street

OneLife Church at 3524 NE 95th Street

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.

The original architect of the Maple Leaf Baptist church building (plans filed in August 1953) was Alfred F. Simonson.  In 2006 tenant improvements were undertaken by Scott Clark of Clark Design Group PLLC.

OneLife currently has 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.

Church interaction with the community in Wedgwood

The Little Free Library of Wedgwood Presbyterian Church

The Little Free Library of Wedgwood Presbyterian Church is on the Grassy Lot on NE 80th Street.

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 buildings.  Church members in Wedgwood 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.

Other nearby church buildings:

Messiah Lutheran sanctuary

Another Wedgwood-area church, Messiah Lutheran at 7050 35th Ave NE also has a school, called Concordia Lutheran, in a separate building to the east at 7040 36th Ave NE.  The Messiah Lutheran church building was designed in 1965 by the architectural firm of Bell & Greve.  James F. Bell was particularly noted for his architectural designs for churches.  Another notable work of James F. Bell and Donald A. Greve was the Shoreline Library in 1966.

Congregation Beth Shalom at 6800 35th Ave NE

Congregation Beth Shalom at 6800 35th Ave NE

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 at 6800 35th Ave NE.  The University Unitarian Church had acquired this building for use as a social hall and the people of Beth Shalom began using it in 1970.  In 1973 Congregation Beth Shalom bought the building and did a major remodelling to turn it into a synagogue.  The design was done by the architectural firm of Durham, Anderson and Freed which specializes in religious buildings.

About Wedgwood in Seattle History

Valarie is a volunteer history writer for neighborhood history in Seattle, Washington.
This entry was posted in churches, Neighborhood features and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Churches and Changes in Wedgwood

  1. hdemare says:

    The picture of the log cabin from 1930 illustrates how much Seattle has grown in less than a century. We have moved from log cabins to the Columbia Center.

  2. Some neighborhoods more than others — Wedgwood was still so rural that when it finally came into the city limits in the early 1950’s, people protested that they would no longer be allowed to keep chickens and cows.

  3. hdemare says:

    We may have lost the right to keep cows in the city, but last week, Mongo and I met a couple walking their goat in Lincoln Park. So goats and chickens are still OK.

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