Thanks to the Great Depression, Capitol Hill’s Saint Mark’s was never truly completed. This spring, construction will begin to clad the amazing old church in proper limestone and replace the depression era glass windows that have somehow held up for 88 years:
Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, the iconic building situated on a prominent bluff high above I-5, is Seattle’s most visible symbol of faith. Construction of this “beacon on the hill” began in 1928, but was halted after the stock market crash of 1929, and never fully completed. The enormous concrete walls were never meant to be exposed to the elements, and the cheap depression-era glass windows were not meant to be permanent. In 2012, chunks of concrete began to break away from the exterior walls, posing a safety risk, and it became urgent for Saint Mark’s Cathedral to address the deteriorating state of the walls and windows.
Now, beginning in mid-April 2017, Saint Mark’s will undertake a major construction project to clad the exterior walls of the cathedral in limestone and replace all of the windows with new energy-efficient models, designed to match the old windows in style and color. Saint Mark’s is working with Olson Kundig Architects on design and Turner Construction Company for the construction. Spectrum Development Solutions is handling project management.
A spokesperson for the church tells CHS that worship services will continue through construction which is expected be completed by mid-December. The biggest impact for visitors — in addition to the tall scaffolding that will surround portions of the building — will be a parking crunch to make room for equipment and construction staging. The church is encouraging visitors to consider carpooling or public transportation.
The project is part of a handful of major projects planned or underway around Capitol Hill as Seattle’s surviving landmark buildings age. By the end of the year, First Hill’s Town Hall is planning to begin a full overhaul of the 100-year-old venue. Meanwhile, at the end of February the art deco-era Seattle Asian Art Museum will close and begin moving its collections to make way for a two-year overhaul and expansion project that is currently still in search of final approval and a start date.
In addition to sealing and cladding the exterior of Saint Mark’s in Indiana limestone and replacing the windows with new insulated glass, the project also includes “repairing the roof, creating a more inviting east façade and entry, and installing an elevator to make the building more accessible to all.”
While the purples and blues of the old glass will be difficult to match, the new windows are being planned to “mimic” the old colors, CHS is told.
The project will break ground in April — the day after Easter — with a ceremony planned for May 13th. Plans for a “capstone event” to be held in the Nave at the end of the project in December are also in the works.
A capital campaign to raise funds for the project began in 2014 and has raised $8 million of the expected $10.5 million budget. Major donors include The Cathedral Foundation of the Diocese of Olympia, and The Norcliffe Foundation, “as well as many generous individuals,” according to Saint Mark’s. You can give at saintmarks.org/livingstones.