The History of Seattle First Baptist Church
The sanctuary building, designed in the English Medieval Gothic style by architect U. Fay Grant, offers inspiration to many people who live within sight of its spire and to others visiting or hospitalized in this metropolitan neighborhood.
Carvings at the front of the sanctuary, done as part of a remodeling project in 1956 and 1990, are symbolic reminders of what we read in the Bible and traditional aids to worship. Many of these symbols reflect references from the parables of Jesus as well as the early church.
The stained glass windows were gifts of members, installed in 1969 in time for the 100th anniversary of the church from the gifts of members. These windows were designed by artist Robert Hill in the Hogan Studios of Los Gatos, CA. They are constructed of sculptured glass set in a frame of epoxy and cement. The four large windows depict four periods in the life of Christ: his birth in the stable, his teaching and healing ministry, his death on the cross, and his resurrection and continuing presence with us. The windows near the floor at the back of the balcony are of Old Testament stories: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire, Abraham about to sacrifice his son when a ram was found caught in a thicket, Moses with the ten commandments and god speaking to him from the burning bush, and Samuel anointing King David.
At the back of the Sanctuary is the Hintz Memorial Chapel (named after Dr. August Hintz, minister of this church from 1963 to 1976). Before the room became a chapel, it was part of the sanctuary and was later used to store all the historical records of the church. The renovation of the room to become a chapel was financed by a gift from Dr. Hintz's wife Dorothy, and by many members and friends. The historical Room was moved to the lower level of the Sanctuary, just off the Fellowship Hall area on the Harvard side.
The lower floor of the sanctuary building contains a large Fellowship Hall where church dinners and other large meetings are held. It is joined by a parlor, kitchen and restrooms. Books may be checked out by members and friends of the church on an honor system. The former library space adjacent to the parlor was modified in 2005 to accommodate a nursery and early childhood center, a gift from the John Hughes Foundation. A small space under the baptistry and robing rooms serves as an apartment for a live-in assistant custodian / security guard.
The 1990 renovation of the sanctuary was inaugurated by a gift from the estate of the late Frank Smith, a longtime member, who designated the gift to be used for returning the sanctuary to its Gothic tradition. The return to the central pulpit, the use of the Gothic arch and qua trefoil, retaining the 1956 carving around the baptistry and communion table have all been part of that attempt. The qua trefoil (a design of four leaves representing the cruciform flower) is a symbol prominent in Gothic architecture. Originally on the ends of the pews and friezes encircling the balconies, it now appears in the chancel as a unifying theme, as well as in the large chandelier. It has ancient religious significance, representing the four directions, the four elements, the four gospels and numerous other things. The centrals pulpit positioned between the communion table and the baptistry, represents Baptist theology that proclamation or preaching is central to worship, leading to participation in the two ordinances of the church, baptism and the Lord's Supper.
The Aeolian-Skinner Opus-1216 Organ
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The old Minor Hospital on Spring Street was acquired in 1929 for use as an Educational hall. This building was remodeled in 1977-78 to better accommodate the church programs. It was dedicated for use on Easter Sunday, 1978. It now houses the Virginia Mason Child Care Center.
The three-story Activities Building, in the middle of the block-long building complex, was built in 1956. It has rooms for many of the church school classes and also a choir practice room. On the ground floor are the church office, ministerial offices and Fridell Lounge (named after a former pastor) with a connecting kitchen. An audio-visual center is also located on this floor. The second floor houses our church music program, and educational space for our children and youth. The third floor contains the gym, the bowling alley and the gym lounge. You can get to all of these floors using the elevator.
Effective December 28, 1981, the Sanctuary Building of the church was declared a Seattle Landmark. Ord. #110351, 12-28-81