Seattle Now & Then: Gethsemane Lutheran

(click to enlarge photos)

THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist.  (Courtesy, Swedish Club)
THEN: Swedish Lutheran (Gethsemane) Church’s second sanctuary at the northeast corner of Ninth Avenue and Steward Street circa 1920, photo by Klaes Lindquist. (Courtesy, Swedish Club)
NOW: A cross high on the west façade of Gethsemane Lutheran Church’s new home, stands atop five floors of low-income housing and three for the church, including the Rainbow Chapel, the stained-glass lighted chapel at the corner.
NOW: A cross high on the west façade of Gethsemane Lutheran Church’s new home, stands atop five floors of low-income housing and three for the church, including the Rainbow Chapel, the stained-glass lighted chapel at the corner.

Now one hundred and thirty years old, the oldest Lutheran congregation in Seattle has moved only once, and that only eight blocks. It has, however, had four sanctuaries, and in Jean Sherrard’s kitty-corner recording we can see the latest of these with the first three floors serving the congregation and the top five affordable housing. Abutting to the south (right) is the surviving chancel of the third sanctuary, which was dedicated in 1954. The prospect looks east across the intersection of 9th Avenue and Stewart Street. 

Near the lower- left corner the first sanctuary of Swedish Lutheran sits two lots north of the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Pike Street.  The Territorial University sits on Denny Knoll, upper-left, and the extended ridge of Beacon Hill holds most of the horizon.
Near the lower- left corner the first sanctuary of Swedish Lutheran sits two lots north of the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Pike Street. The Territorial University sits on Denny Knoll, upper-left, and the extended ridge of Beacon Hill holds most of the horizon, ca. 1885.

The Swedish Lutherans dedicated their first church in 1885 on the east side of Third Avenue, one lot north of Pike Street.   It was the southern slope of Denny Hill and the neighborhood was then decidedly residential. By 1901, when the congregation moved those eight blocks to this corner, their first location was rapidly turning commercial, and the sale of that property helped finance the changes.

Gethsemane Lutheran on June 4, 1933.
Gethsemane Lutheran on June 4, 1933.

With its first and only move the church avoided the many years of confusion wrought by the Denny Hill Regrade. It did not, however, escape the regrading of Stewart Street. In 1910 the city instructed the church to lower their Gothic sanctuary fourteen feet.  The results of that cutting are shown here (in the featured photo at the top) on both the far right, with an exposed hill, and far left, with the long steep stairway to the front door of the church’s parsonage, home of its then pastor, Martin L. Larson. 

A Times clip from June 8, 1907.
A Times clip from June 8, 1907.

The Steward Street regrade put the growing congregation more emphatically “on the map” when the improved Stewart was linked to Eastlake Avenue, making a joined arterial that was one of the city’s primary routes to the north.  (On a 1916 map of the city’s auto routes, both Stewart and Eastlake are emphasized with a widened dark line and bold lettering.)  The building in 1927 of the city’s Central Stage Terminal (Greyhound Depot), across 9th Avenue from the church, also emphasized the centrality of Gethsemane’s location.  [See the links below and Jean’s added photos there as well for photographs and stories featuring the depot.]

Detail from a 1916 Seattle map.
Detail from a 1916 Seattle map.
A Seattle Times clipping from Oct. 26, 1935 describing Gethsemane's golden anniversary.
A Seattle Times clipping from Oct. 26, 1935 describing Gethsemane’s golden anniversary with a little pastoral counseling to the side.  CLICK TWICE to ENLARGE!

 The 1921 dedication of Gethsemane’s Lutheran Hospice for Girls on Capitol Hill prefigured Mary’s Place, the day shelter for women and children that are also tenants of the new sanctuary. Other “open and affirming” Gethsemane services include the meals programs of Hope Center,   

From May 1, 1928
From May 1, 1928
The Sundsten Trio
The Sundsten Trio
A Seattle Times clip from Nov. 13, 1932, which names the members of the family trio. (Courtesy, John Sundsten)
A Seattle Times clip from Nov. 13, 1932, which names the members of the family trio. (Courtesy, John Sundsten)

The featured photograph of Gethsemane’s second sanctuary at the top was copied from an album of photos taken by Klaes Lindquist, and shared with us by the Swedish Club. It dates from about 1920, a year in which the city directory lists twenty-two Lutheran churches, six of them in Ballard and five, including Gethsemane, here in the greater and then quite Scandi-Cascade Neighborhood.  

Cover to the congregation's centennial histoy.
Cover to the congregation’s centennial history.

WEB EXTRAS

Let me add a few snaps here which illustrate a few of the vast changes underway around 9th and Stewart:

Gethsemane Lutheran on the distant right looking down the 9th Avenue canyon.
Gethsemane Lutheran on the distant left looking down the 9th Avenue canyon.
Jesus of the downtown corridor
Jesus of the downtown corridor
Funny story: about 10 years ago, before its newest structure, Gethsemane Lutheran's statue of Jesus was made of crumbling concrete. My son Noel and his cousin Kalan were climbing around the statue and broke off Jesus's finger! After confessing to the church secretary, they glued it back on with eternal epoxy...
Funny story: about 10 years ago, before its newest structural incarnation, Gethsemane Lutheran’s statue of Jesus was made of crumbling concrete. My son Noel and his cousin Kalan, not numbered amongst the faithful, were clambering around the statue and accidentally broke off Jesus’s finger! After confessing to the church secretary, they glued it back on with eternal epoxy…
Farewell to the Stewart Street Grayhound Station - soon to be replaced with canyon walls.
Farewell to the Stewart Street Greyhound Station – soon to be replaced with canyon walls.
The last 'Bus'
The last ‘Bus’

Anything to add, boys?   Certainly.  More links from Ron Edge and pixs and clips from our robust archives, and all in sympathy to this week’s primary subjects:  Swedes (some of them Lutherans), and this interstitial neighborhood on the fringe of downtown.   First, eleven links to past features, which will include their own links and those theirs . . .  [Nifty “now” Jean.]

THEN: The scene looks north through a skyline of steeples toward the Cascade neighborhood and Lake Union, ca. 1923.

THEN: The home at bottom right looks across Madison Street (out of frame) to Central School. The cleared intersection of Spring Street and Seventh Avenue shows on the right.

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: Werner Lenggenhager's recording of the old St. Vinnie's on Lake Union's southwest shore in the 1950s should remind a few readers of the joys that once were theirs while searching and picking in that exceedingly irregular place.

THEN: As explained in the accompanying story the cut corner in this search-lighted photo of the “first-nighters” lined up for the March 1, 1928 opening of the Seattle Theatre at 9th and Pine was intended. Courtesy Ron Phillips

5th-ave-car-barns-then-mr

THEN:  Built in the mid-1880s at 1522 7th Avenue, the Anthony family home was part of a building boom developing this north end neighborhood then into a community of clapboards.  Here 70 years later it is the lone survivor.  (Photo by Robert O. Shaw)

THEN: Beginning with the Reynolds, three hotels have taken tenancy in this ornate three-story brick block at the northeast corner of Boren Avenue and Pike Street. (Courtesy Lawton Gowey)

THEN:  This detail from the prolific local photographer Asahel Curtis’s photograph of the Smith/Rininger home at the northwest corner of Columbia Street and Summit Avenue dates from the early twentieth century when motorcars, rolling or parked, were still very rare on the streets of Seattle, including these on First Hill.  (Courtesy, Historic Seattle)

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FOLLOWS – A FEW PAST FEATURES SCANNED FROM CLIPPINGS

First appeared in Pacific, April 12, 1987.
First appeared in Pacific, April 12, 1987.

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Looking east up Stewart and Olive from the New Washington Hotel at 2nd and Steward, ca. 1909.   Gethsemane Lutheran can be found left-of-center.
Looking east up Stewart and Olive from the New Washington Hotel at 2nd and Steward, ca. 1909. Gethsemane Lutheran, washed in white, can be found left-of-center.
First appeared in Pacific, March 24, 1985 - gosh thirty years ago!
First appeared in Pacific, March 24, 1985 – gosh thirty years ago!  Click to Enlarge.  Note that Gethsemane can be found here as well, but no Westlake as yet cutting through the grid.

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Another of other depot.  This first appeared in Pacific on July 30, 1998.  Rail fans will find Warren Wing posing in the "now."
Another of the depot. This first appeared in Pacific on July 30, 1998. Rail fans will find Warren Wing posing in the “now.”

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CONCLUDING WITH MORE LUTHERANS – German ones.

Appeared in Pacific on August 21, 1994.
Zion and Gethsemane, back-to-back.  Appeared in Pacific on August 21, 1994.

Clip-ZION-Lutheran-WEB

 

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