Historical Religious Buildings Tour, Seattle

Historical Religious Buildings Tour (Self Guided), Seattle

Seattle, Washington, boasts a wealth of religious sites of various denominations – together reflecting the city's diverse spiritual heritage. Besides being purely centers of faith, these buildings are an important part of the city's historical heritage, some of them standing as architectural marvels, each with its unique story.

Trinity Parish Church, founded in 1865, is Seattle's oldest Episcopal congregation. Nestled in the heart of downtown, this Gothic Revival temple provides a peaceful oasis amid the city's clamor.

Saint James Cathedral, a grand Roman Catholic church, is a magnificent example of Renaissance architecture. Consecrated in 1907, it serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Seattle and continues to be a spiritual anchor for the local Catholic community.

Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with its distinctive onion domes, reflects Seattle's diverse religious landscape. This Orthodox jewel, consecrated in 1937, welcomes worshipers from various backgrounds.

The First African Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1886, holds a unique place in Seattle's history as one of the city's oldest Black congregations. Its vibrant community and rich heritage are integral to Seattle's cultural tapestry.

Temple de Hirsch Sinai, a historic Jewish synagogue, stands as a testament to the city's Jewish community's endurance and contributions. Established in 1889, it plays a vital role in promoting interfaith dialogue and understanding.

Immaculate Conception Church, built in 1904, showcases stunning Romanesque Revival architecture and serves as a significant hub for the Catholic faithful in Seattle.

As you explore these sacred sites, consider engaging with the communities they serve, attending services, or participating in events to foster greater understanding and appreciation for the diverse religious heritage of Seattle. Whether you seek spiritual enrichment or a deeper connection with the city's history, these historical houses of worship offer a welcoming embrace to all who enter their hallowed doors.
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Historical Religious Buildings Tour Map

Guide Name: Historical Religious Buildings Tour
Guide Location: USA » Seattle (See other walking tours in Seattle)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Trinity Parish Church
  • St. James Cathedral
  • Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral
  • First African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • Temple de Hirsch Sinai
  • Immaculate Conception Church
Trinity Parish Church

1) Trinity Parish Church

Trinity Parish Church, the inaugural Episcopal church in Seattle, was founded on August 13, 1865. However, it wasn't until 1870 that the congregation's first church structure was constructed at the corner of Third Avenue and Jefferson Street. Unfortunately, this wooden building fell victim to the ravaging flames of the Great Fire of 1889. Consequently, the church relocated to its present location on Eighth Avenue, where a new edifice was erected and unveiled in 1892. This architectural masterpiece, designed in the English Gothic Revival style, was the brainchild of Henry F. Starbuck, an esteemed architect based in Chicago. The construction process was expertly overseen by Charles A. Alexander.

In 1902, disaster struck again when a fierce fire tore through the interior, leaving only the external walls standing. To rebuild the church and expand its dimensions, the services of Seattle architect John Graham, Sr. were enlisted. Remarkably, Graham managed to preserve the essence of the English Gothic Revival style while introducing exquisite German stained glass windows and an opulent Italian marble altar.

The awe-inspiring stained glass windows were meticulously crafted by the renowned Franz Mayer & Co. of Munich, Germany. On the other hand, the Carrara marble altar was skillfully designed and manufactured in Italy, incorporating elements of mother of pearl, ceramic tile, and Venetian gold glass.

Due to its historical significance and architectural splendor, the church building was bestowed with the prestigious distinction of being a Seattle Landmark in 1976. Additionally, it earned recognition as a state landmark and was officially listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
St. James Cathedral

2) St. James Cathedral

The mother church of the Archdiocese of Seattle, the Saint James Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church and the seat of the Archbishop of Seattle. Located in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle, the church, in the name of Saint James the Greater, the patron Saint of the archdiocese, is the third Saint James Cathedral to be the seat of the archbishop.

The construction began in 1905 and the cathedral was dedicated in 1907. Major artwork at Saint James Cathedral include an extensive collection of stained glass by Charles Connick, installed in 1917-1920, during the rebuilding of the cathedral following the collapse of the dome. In 1994, three new windows were added, the work of Hans Gottfried von Stockhausen, a noted German stained-glass artist, who has served on the faculty of the Pilchuck School. In 1999, ceremonial bronze doors were added, the work of German sculptor Ulrich Henn. A bronze tabernacle by the same artist was installed in 2003. Henn's only other works in the United States are the bronze gates at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Saint James Cathedral is also home to an altarpiece by Florentine artist Neri di Bicci, dating to 1456. It represents the Madonna and Child surrounded by six saints.

In 1984 the City Council declared the cathedral as a City Landmark. Visitors are welcome to view the artistic treasures of the Cathedral by going on the tours that are conducted every Wednesday.
Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

3) Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral

This City Landmark in Seattle is located on 13th Avenue. The cathedral is built in the traditional vibrantly colored Russian Orthodox Church architectural style.

The Saint Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral was built by Russian emigrants who fled Russia during the Russian Revolution and the Japanese occupation of Manchuria and settled in Seattle in 1932. It served as the beacon of the Russian orthodox worship and culture in the American Northwest. The church was consecrated by Archbishop Tikhon of Western America in 1937 and dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker of Myra in Lycia. The church also served as a memorial to the executed Tsar Nicholas II and all the soldiers who died defending the faith, Tsar and country during the revolution.

The Saint Nicholas Foundation helps to preserve the building and serve the local community. The foundation holds charity events to preserve the cathedral and to provide for educational and other programs organized by the Russian Orthodox community in Seattle.

Visitors can view the service at the cathedral on Saturday evening and on Sunday mornings. The choir is sung a capella and attracts many visitors especially on Sundays. On the 2nd week of October, the Saint Nicholas Cathedral hosts an annual Russian food bazaar with stalls serving traditional Russian food and a Vodka tasting bar.
First African Methodist Episcopal Church

4) First African Methodist Episcopal Church

The First African Methodist Episcopal (FAME) Church in Seattle grew from a small Sunday gathering to the Church building that is now located on 14th Avenue. When the church was first built, the street that is now 14th Avenue was called Jones Street. Historically FAME was known as the Jones Street Church.

In 1886, prominent African American Seattle resident, Seaborn J. Collins who later became the first African American to be elected to office in Kings County started a small Sunday school gathering. All African American Seattle residents were welcome at the gathering. As the congregation grew, an old house was purchased at 1522 Jones Street in 1890 to serve as parsonage and place of worship. When the premises required expansion to accommodate larger congregations, a new building, the present First African Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed in 1912. Two lots north of the church were purchased for future expansion and a separate parsonage was established.

The FAME church is the oldest house of prayer founded by African Americans in the Pacific Northwest and has grown from a small gathering of 17 deeply religious individuals to a congregation of over 2000 members. The church from its inception till today conducts social and religious programs to help and support people from all sections of society.
Temple de Hirsch Sinai

5) Temple de Hirsch Sinai

Named after the German Jewish philanthropist Baron Maurice de Hirsch, the Temple de Hirsch Sinai is a reform Jewish Synagogue and the largest reform congregation in the Pacific Northwest.

The Temple de Hirsch was founded in Seattle in 1899 and celebrated its centenary in 1999. The first congregation was small and as the members increased, the cornerstone for a new establishment was laid at Boylston Avenue and Marion Street. This new building was not raised higher than the basement. In 1907 a larger site at 15th Avenue and Union Street was purchased for the purpose of building a larger temple to accommodate the large and growing reform Jewish congregation. In 1908, construction on the building was completed and the new temple was dedicated. The organ was donated by Babette Schwabacher Gadzert, the wife of the Jewish Mayor of Seattle in 1876, Bailey Gadzert. In 1960 a new larger sanctuary was built by Temple de Hirsch for a larger congregation designed by Benjamin Marcus Priteca, John Peck and John Dettie. The new sanctuary is located at 16th Avenue and Pike Street.

The Temple de Hirsch Sinai has a long history of preserving and promoting Jewish ethical and moral concepts and for providing outreach and community service including promoting education and life-cycle events.
Immaculate Conception Church

6) Immaculate Conception Church

Seattle’s oldest standing church, the Immaculate Conception Church was established by the Society of Jesus in 1891. The Seattle University stands on the site of the first church building. The present building at 820, 18th Avenue was constructed in 1904.

The Immaculate Conception Church building has a record of being built in a period of six months. The brick Italian style construction has a wooden roof and twin towers with gold cupolas. The design was by Williams and Clark. All the frescoes covering the wooden ceiling were hand painted by the Jesuit priests in the 1920s and at one time the building had the biggest auditorium in Seattle. The grotto designed by William Morgan in 1930 is small but exact replica of the Lourdes grotto in France.

The church was dedicated by the then Bishop of Nesqually, Edward O’Dea in 1904. In 1929, the Jesuits transferred the church to the Diocese of Seattle and the dynamic Rev Theodore Ryan became its pastor. Monsignor Ryan remained the pastor till his death and a pipe organ known to be the finest in the Northwest was donated in his memory.

The Immaculate Conception church was declared a City Landmark because of its architecture and the service rendered in educating all sections of the population through the history of Seattle.

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