Seattle Now & Then: Swedish Baptists in Ballard

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Built in 1910, Ballard’s big brick church on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street lost the top of its soaring tower following the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.
THEN: Built in 1910, Ballard’s big brick church on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street lost the top of its soaring tower following the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939. (courtesy, Swedish Club)
NOW: Serving Ballard Baptist Church since 1981, minister Don Duncan here stands near the church steps on a bright March morning.
NOW: Serving Ballard Baptist Church since 1981, minister Don Duncan here stands near the church steps on a bright March morning.
A notice for the Ballard Baptist Church from The Seattle Times for Oct. 4, 1947.
A notice for the Ballard Baptist Church from The Seattle Times for Oct. 4, 1947.

There’s a popular and abiding Ballardian legend that when still young and independent of Seattle, the “shingle capitol of the world” had as many bars as churches – or, alternately, as many churches as bars.  Most of the dives were on Ballard Avenue, but churches seemed to be on every Ballard block. 

For instance: one of the many Lutheran churches in Ballard early in the 20th Century, but one which block, we have not as yet determined.  Perhaps a reader will peg it.
For instance: one of the many Lutheran churches in Ballard early in the 20th Century, but one which block, we still do not know. Perhaps a reader will peg it.

This week’s historical photograph was shared by Kristine Leander, the Executive Director of the local Swedish Club.  It is but one print of about ninety included in a large album of subjects recorded mostly in the 1920s by Klaes Nordquist, a professional photographer with studios both downtown and on Market Street in Ballard.  Many of the prints are of Swedish subjects, such as the Swedish Hospital, the Swedish Business Men’s Association posing at Snoqualmie Falls Lodge – with  women –  and this Baptist church.

The Swedish Hosptial ca. 1920 by Lin
The Swedish Hosptial at Columbia (in the foreground) and Summit, ca. 1920 by Klaes Nordquist, and courtesy of the Swedish Club.  (We have a feature or two treating on  the Swedish Hospital, should you like to key-word it.
Swedish Business Men's Association at the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge, May 14, 1921. By
Swedish Business Men’s Association at the Snoqualmie Falls Lodge, May 14, 1921. By K. Nordquist, courtesy of the Swedish Club.

When Director Leander and I first thumbed through the album I was startled by the size of this church and the sinking sense that in spite of having an enduring memory for churches, especially ones with soaring towers, and having bumped about Ballard for years, still I did not know it.  However, the name came quickly with the help of magnification and Nordquist’s fine grain print.  On the reader board to the right of the smaller door, far-right, the name, Ballard Swedish Baptist Church can be read.  

The side door to Ballard Swedish Baptist on 20th Ave. NW.
The side door to Ballard Swedish Baptist on 20th Ave. NW.

When the tall church was going up (for $20,000) in 1910 on the northwest corner of 20th Avenue NW and NW 63rd Street, the “superstructure” was touted as the “second largest in the state of Washington.”  While we may doubt that claim, we are still impressed.  In addition to the hundred-foot tower, the sanctuary featured a 900-seat auditorium for the then 200 ambitious and hopeful members of a different congregation, the Second Baptist Church. The Swedish Baptists were meeting two blocks south in a modest timber church built in 1904 at NW 61st Street.  Two years after Second Baptist’s dedication of their oversized sanctuary, the congregation was still struggling to pay the mortgage. In three years more they swapped this landmark, still with its tower intact, on 63rd with the flourishing Swedes on 61st.  The Swedes , of course, also assumed the debt on the house of worship for which they traded.  

An early sketch of the church on the eve of its construction, when it was still the First Baptist Church of Ballard.  The Seattle Times clipping is dated August 30, 1910.
An early sketch of the church on the eve of its construction, when it was still the First Baptist Church of Ballard. The Seattle Times clipping is dated August 30, 1910. CLICK TO ENLARGE

In the mid-1920s the church’s tradition of scheduling the Swedish service on Sunday mornings and the English for the evenings was reversed.  Of course, by then the church families were raising kids routinely using English in the public schools, and probably at home as well.  According to Don Duncan, minister at Ballard Baptist since 1981, “Swedish” was excused from the name in 1934. By the memory of Alice Anderson, the oldest member of Ballard Baptist, the ornate top of the tower was removed after it was damaged in the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.

A full page in The Seattle Times for Nov. 13, 1939 about the earthquake that while it did not topple it doomed it.
A full page in The Seattle Times for Nov. 13, 1939 about the earthquake that while it did not make note of the tower nor topple it still doomed it.  [By Every Means CLICK TO READ]

WEB EXTRAS

I’ll lead off by throwing down a couple of interior photos.

Rev. Duncan is justly proud of Ballard Baptist's stained glass
Rev. Duncan is justly proud of Ballard Baptist’s stained glass
Flags at the back of the church represent the many nationalities of the congregation
Flags at the back of the church represent the many nationalities of the congregation

Then I’ll up the ante with a shot of the spare church on 61st!

Formerly Swedish
Swedish Baptist, earlier version

Call, raise, or fold, fellahs?

Jean and Dear Readers.  While the former – Jean, for himself and his family – is off to the Islands for a vacation, the latter – Ron and I, while holding to the  mainland and working for the readers, will first put up eight or nine links to past Ballard subjects – Ballard and Phinney Ridge.   Surely those are not all we have, even of those cozy in our scanned library.  Like those in past blog features, these nine will proliferate with their own links and so on and on.  We will follow these with a few features so distant (to the rear or ago) that until now they have not made it into this useful, that is scanned, library.   All of it will be concluded first with a 1919 clipping of a few church alternatives, and last with a 2006 photograph of three members of the Ballard Sedentary Marching Band, standing in Meridian Park, ca. 2008, and so not in Ballard but rather here in Wallingford, the Gateway to Ballard.  And that’s it.

THEN: The Ballard Public Library in 1903-4, and here the Swedish Baptist Church at 9th and Pine, 1904-5, were architect Henderson Ryan’s first large contracts after the 20 year old southerner first reached Seattle in 1898.   Later he would also design both the Liberty and Neptune Theatres, the latter still projecting films in the University District. (Photo courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN: A Seattle Street and Sewer Department photographer recorded this scene in front of the nearly new City-County Building in 1918.  The view looks west from 4th Avenue along a Jefferson Street vacated in this block except for the municipal trolley tracks.  (Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archive)

THEN: With his or her back to the original Ballard business district, an unnamed photographer looks southeast on Leary Way, most likely in 1936.

THEN: Looking east from the roof of the still standing testing lab, the Lock’s Administration Building (from which this photograph was borrowed) appears on the left, and the district engineer’s home, the Cavanaugh House (still standing) on the center horizon. (Photo courtesy Army Corps of Engineers at Chittenden Locks)

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FOUR MORE CHURCHES RELATED EITHER TO BALLARD OR SWEDES

The Finish-Evangelical Church at 1709, NW 65th Street.  This too is from the Swedish Club album.
The Finish-Evangelical Church at 1709, NW 65th Street. This too is from the Swedish Club album.
The Finish sanctuary was later converted into a residence and it survives as such.  I visited it in the late 1990s as part of a party for a dinner that was remarkable, and is still remembered.  The party was also entertained with a performance on the couples grand piano of several Chopin piano compositions, although I can not longer name them.
The Finish sanctuary was later converted into a residence and it survives as such. I visited it in the late 1990s as part of a party for a dinner that was remarkable, and is still remembered. The party was also entertained with a performance on the couples grand piano of several Chopin piano compositions, although I can not longer name them.   The “now” here was borrowed courtesy of Google Earth, Street Views.

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As the real photo postcard artist Oakes captions it, this is the First Presbyterian Church of Ballard at
As the real photo postcard artist Oakes captions it, this is the First Presbyterian Church of Ballard at the northeast corner of Market Street and 17th Avenue Northwest.
First appeared in Pacific for the May 10, 1996 issue.
First appeared in Pacific for the May 10, 1996 issue.   If you read it you may note that I used these Presbyterians the same proverbial wit about Ballard’s bars and churches that I used for today’s feature.  And I also leaned again on the well-wrought and well-worn hyperbole identifying Ballard as the “Shingle Capital of the World.’  Given a chance I’d do the same for the Buddhists.

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Bethany Lutheran Church at the northeast corner of   . This is another contribution by the Swedish Club.  Note that this Nordquiist print, while similar to the one in the clipping that follows is not the same.
Bethany Lutheran Church at the northeast corner of . This is another contribution by the Swedish Club. Note that this Nordquist print, while similar to the one in the clipping that follows is not the same.
This feature first appeared in Pacific April 25, 1999.
This feature first appeared in Pacific April 25, 1999.
Looking across Latona to the Bethany Lutheran sanctuary.  Given the vintage of the cars of the street, could these repairs on the steeple have something to do with the 1949 quake?
Looking across Latona to the Bethany Lutheran sanctuary. Given the vintage of the cars of the street, could these repairs on the steeple have something to do with the 1949 quake?

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First-Covenant-Church-c1902-WEB

First published in Pacific on Feb. 3, 2000.
First published in Pacific on Feb. 3, 2000.
Another Nordquist print used courtesy of the Swedish Club.
Another Nordquist print used courtesy of the Swedish Club.

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6 Ballard-Library-early-WEB

6 Ballard-Library-thru-street-fair-2007-WEB

6 Ballard's-Carnegie-Library-clip-WEB

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BALLARD BRIDGE – FIRST AND LAST TRACK-BOUND TROLLEYS

3 Ballard-Bridge-TrolleyWEB

3 Ballard-Bridge-Tracks-removal-WEB2

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5 Hotchkiss-Grocery-Ballard-ca-09- 12-9-90 WEB

First  appears in Pacific, Dec. 9, 1990
First appears in Pacific, Dec. 9, 1990

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A sampler of religious attractions published in The Times for Sept. 27, 1919.
A sampler of religious attractions published in The Times for Sept. 27, 1919.  By Every Means – CLICK TO READ   Click Twice on MACS.

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FRESH AND LOOSE from Ballard, three members of the Ballard Sedentary Marching Band before - or perhaps after - a concert at the Good Shepherd's Bandstand in Wallingford.   The well decorated veteran on the left may not be a member of the band.  I remember him better from the pubs of Pioneer Square.  This dates from about 2007 and was taken during my daily Wallingford Walks then.
FRESH AND LOOSE from Ballard, this brass quartet has been pulled from the Ballard Sedentary Marching Band before – or perhaps after – a concert at the Good Shepherd’s Bandstand in Wallingford. The well decorated veteran on the left may not be a member of the quartet or marching band.  I remember him better from the pubs of Pioneer Square. This dates from about 2007 and was taken during my daily Wallingford Walks then.  The photo recalls the maxim “Give a man a horn and he will soon want a uniform.:

 

 

 

 

 

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