All Pilgrims has its home in the building constructed originally for Pilgrim Congregational Church at the corner of Broadway East and East Republican Street on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The surrounding neighborhood is one of the most densely populated parts of the city, and the Broadway scene is a lively one featuring many restaurants, a handful of small theaters, and Seattle Central Community College.
The clinker-brick exterior encloses a sanctuary that dates from 1906, a large fellowship hall (Stuart Hall) and numerous smaller rooms and offices added in 1929, as well as a small chapel that was completed subsequently. Architect Julian Everett designed the building. Defined by a simplicity characteristic of early Congregational churches in England and colonial America, the structure has been compared to some of the church architecture of Sir Christopher Wren (1632–1723). The sanctuary was remodeled after World War II and again in 1999, the latter time in an effort to open up the space for more flexible usage and to recapture some of the room’s original acoustical richness. An earthquake in 1949 damaged a belfry that sat atop the church tower in the southwestern corner of the building, necessitating the belfry’s removal.
Just outside the chapel that sits between the sanctuary and Stuart Hall, within a small courtyard, is the cornerstone of the former Seattle First Christian Church building, dated 1923. The brick and terracotta building stood on Broadway, six blocks south of the All Pilgrims location, until damage from the 2001 Nisqually earthquake led to the building’s demolition. A few beautiful stained-glass windows from the building have been saved and are in storage, awaiting installation in an appropriate location.
Two other lovely pieces of stained-glass art currently adorn the building interior. At the front of the sanctuary is “Sacred Light,” and in the chapel is a large piece commemorating Pentecost. Both of these works were created by the world-renowned Japanese artist Keiko Miura, who graciously donated them to All Pilgrims in 2004.
Looking toward the future
We appreciate the history and architecture of our building, but we also recognize that a church is built to serve a purpose. As its ministry changes over time, its physical needs change. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the congregation of All Pilgrims is re-evaluating its 100+-year-old facility and seeking answers to such questions as:
- How can our building better support spiritual encounter and development?
- What can we do to make it more welcoming, accessible, and comfortable to use?
- How can it enhance our connection to the local and global community and support a variety of ministries, both today and in the future?
- What steps can we take to improve the building’s structural soundness and maintainability?
We are engaged in a long-term project of evaluating the spaces we inhabit and taking steps to give our building the functional and esthetic qualities our church will need moving into the future.