Housing of God? St. Mark’s Cathedral considers future plans for its St. Nicholas building home to Gage Academy and Bright Water School

The St. Nicholas building (Image: The Bright Water School)

There could someday be more than housing for more than the Maker at St. Mark’s Cathedral but any possible changes are still years off as the congregation of Saint Mark’s is beginning considerations of what to do with a signature part of its 10th Ave E campus, the St. Nicholas building. A consultant has recommended changing the building into a multi-family residential development.

The building at 1501 10th Ave E, just north of the cathedral proper, is home to the Gage Academy of Art and the Bright Water Waldorf School. Both of these schools have leases that run through 2023, and the church is in the early phases of deciding what to do with the building when those leases run out.

Even though the consultants have made a recommendation, the Very Rev. Steven Thomason, dean and rector of St. Mark’s stressed that the church is still weighing its options, and that nothing is happening in the immediate future.

“We are not making any decision, any time soon, about what to do with the building,” he said.

The church’s involvement in the property stretches back to 2003. At the time, St. Mark’s and a group called the Willow Trust purchased the building from then-owner Cornish with an eye toward converting it into a parish life center. The church wasn’t ready to move forward with the life center at the time, and so they began renting it out (technically subleasing it, since the building is officially owned by an LLC made up of the church and the trust and then leased to the church) to Gage and Bright Water.

Now the members of the Willow Trust, who have thus far remained anonymous, are granting full ownership of the building to the church. So, the church is beginning consideration of what it will do with the property. Continue reading

What happens when a church closes on Capitol Hill

The Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church stands at 1729 Harvard Ave

On a recent Sunday, the large brick building that previously housed Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church was quiet and still. Two black couches with flaking upholstery sat in a small courtyard facing the vacant parking lot. Although a sign at the entrance advertised Sunday worship below the cheery words “visitors welcome,” the only passersby were dog owners taking their pets on a morning constitutional.

Located at the corner of Harvard Avenue and Howell Street, CHPC held its final service on June 24 at 9:45 AM after over a decade of Sunday services. Church leadership cited the inability to afford a seismic retrofit on the nearly century-old building and decreasing church membership as reasons for Capitol Hill Presbyterian’s closure. According to CHPC data from 2007 to 2017, attendance dropped from 161 to 45 members in a decade.

The church’s dwindling attendance followed regional trends: Between 2013 to 2017, the Seattle Presbytery closed six churches as its total membership fell from 17,113 to 12,762.

Since the final service, the Capitol Hill building has remained under the ownership of Seattle Presbytery — a religious organization that oversees more than 40 Presbyterian churches in the region. Presbytery staff occasionally use the building for office hours, or to hold preliminary conversations with groups interested in acquiring the property. Otherwise it remains vacant. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Historical Society | American Sutra book launch at Elliott Bay and remembering the Koba family of Capitol Hill

Normally the story of the period of illegal incarceration of Japanese Americans is told as if they were homogeneous and of one voice. In fact, beyond obvious differences like living in the country or the city, or being American citizens or not, there were other discreet groups within the population of ethnic Japanese in America. An event this week at Elliott Bay Book Co. is a reminder of this diversity and one Capitol Hill family and its apartment building’s place in this history.

On Thursday, February 14 Elliott Bay is hosting a book launch event for Duncan Ryūken Williams’s book American Sutra. It’s the history of Japanese American Buddhists during World War Two.

Williams tells us that the largest group — and the least understood by other Americans — was the Buddhists. The racial discrimination we’re familiar with was not the whole story. It was exacerbated by religious discrimination as well. Buddhists were the focus of early FBI raids, their leaders were subject to separate imprisonment, and their religious activity was often suppressed. Continue reading

Bishop who showed the ‘power in love’ to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan to appear at Capitol Hill’s St. Mark’s

Presiding Bishop Curry

“There is power in love, Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even oversentimentalize it,” the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry said as he made international headlines with his 13-minute long sermon at last month’s royal wedding of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan Markle. “There is power, power in love.”

The Episcopal rock star is now on tour and will be visiting Washington this month with a planned Evensong service at Capitol Hill’s Saint Mark’s Cathedral on Thursday, June 14th at 7 PM: Continue reading

Synagogue hate graffiti part of string of Trump-echoing vandalism around Capitol Hill, Central District

Another case of hate tagging -- thanks to EV for the picture

Another case of hate tagging — thanks to EV for the picture

“LOVE WINS,” read the sheet quickly put up by a neighbor to cover the hateful graffiti found Friday morning targeting 16th Ave’s Temple De Hirsch Sinai on a day when even a box of old history books left innocently for the synagogue’s rabbi caused fear and uncertainty. If love wins — and is going to keep winning — it has some work to do around Capitol Hill and the Central District where Friday’s vandalism appears to be part of a string of similar property damage with messages hitting all of progressive Seattle’s deepest fears about the Trump administration.

Neighbor EV sent us the example seen outside an apartment complex in the Central District and quickly painted over. EV writes: Continue reading

Chabad of Capitol Hill aims to ‘reach every Jew’ — latkeh and challah help

(Images: Chabad of Capitol Hill)

(Images: Chabad of Capitol Hill)

Rabbi Levi Levitin and his wife, Rivkah, both grew up in large Jewish families where faith was an integral part of their lives.

The two wanted to share Judaism with other Jews on Capitol Hill and in the Central District, so in October 2015, they began the Chabad of Capitol Hill.

“The mission is to reach every Jew, no matter where they are,” Levi said, adding the organization has seen a mix of Jews who have been active with their faith and others who are just discovering or rediscovering Judaism. Jews of all ages, family units, sexual orientations, and political views are welcome, he says.

“That’s kind of the beauty of what I like about Capitol Hill — the diverse demographics and age groups.” Continue reading

Soaring Jewish population has nucleus in Seattle’s new inner city

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The 2014 Light the Night celebration at Gay City’s Calamus Auditorium brought out some spectacular holiday finery

Each dot represents 10 Jewish households. The dots are placed randomly within each zip code (Image: Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Each dot represents 10 Jewish households. The dots are placed randomly within each zip code (Image: Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle)

Seattle’s central neighborhoods have the densest population of Jewish households in the metropolitan area, and the numbers are growing.

According to a recent study (PDF), the number of Jews in greater Seattle has increased 70% since 2001, the last time a similar study was conducted. The Jewish population boom is outpacing Seattle’s overall growth. The city’s roughly 33,000 Jews now outnumber residents claiming Norwegian ancestry. The Seattle Times reported on the trends last week.

According to the report, much of the growth has come from Jewish individuals and families moving into the city — only 23% were born in the area. Seattle’s availability of skilled jobs, progressive culture, and well educated population appears to have been a main driver in the Jewish population boom. 89% of Jewish adults surveyed had a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree. Researchers estimated the total Jewish population in the greater Seattle area today to be around 63,400. Continue reading

Baby Jesus missing on Harvard Ave

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Baby Jesus is missing on Harvard Ave.

The Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church has posted a flyer near the site of its annual Nativity scene pleading for the return of the Prince of Peace:

Jesus was last seen on Tuesday, December 2nd. The disappearance has not been reported to Seattle Police.

The church on Harvard Ave just below Seattle Central continues to display the Christmas-light decorated Mary and Joseph minus the babe. But churchgoers would like their little messiah back.

If you find Jesus, please return him to 1729 Harvard Ave.