When the tall church was going up (for $20,000) in 1910 on 20th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 63rd Street, the superstructure was touted as the “second largest in the state of Washington.”
THERE’S A POPULAR and abiding Ballard legend that when still young and independent of Seattle, the “shingle capital of the world” had as many bars as churches — or, alternately, as many churches as bars. Most of the dives were on Ballard Avenue, but churches seemed to be on every Ballard block.
This week’s historical photograph was shared by Kristine Leander, executive director of the local Swedish Club. It is one of about 90 prints included in an album of subjects recorded mostly in the 1920s by Klaes Nordquist, a professional photographer with studios both downtown and on Market Street in Ballard. Many of the prints are of Swedish subjects, such as Swedish Hospital and this Baptist church.
With the help of magnification and Nordquist’s fine-grain print we can see, on the reader board to the right of the smaller door, far right, the name — Ballard Swedish Baptist Church.
When the tall church was going up (for $20,000) in 1910 on 20th Avenue Northwest and Northwest 63rd Street, the superstructure was touted as the “second largest in the state of Washington.” While we might doubt that claim, we are still impressed. In addition to the 100-foot tower, the sanctuary featured a large auditorium for the 200 ambitious and hopeful members of a different congregation, the Second Baptist Church. At that time, the Swedish Baptists were meeting in a modest timber church built in 1904 at N.W. 61st Street.
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Two years after Second Baptist’s dedication of their oversized sanctuary, the congregation still was struggling to pay the mortgage. In three years more they swapped this landmark, with its tower intact, with the flourishing Swedes on 61st. The Swedes assumed the debt on the house of worship for which they had traded.
According to Don Duncan, minister at Ballard Baptist since 1981, “Swedish” was deleted from the name in 1934. By the memory of Alice Anderson, the oldest member of Ballard Baptist, the ornate top of the tower was removed after it was damaged in the earthquake of Nov. 12, 1939.