Heath, Gove & Bell (1924-25), J.E. Bonnell & Son Contractor
Additions & Alterations: Heath, Gove & Bell (1928,1948); Durham, Anderson & Freed (1963)
This striking Gothic Revival structure, in the heart of the Sixth Avenue Business District, was designed by the prominent Tacoma architectural firm of Heath, Gove and Bell and was constructed of Walker Cut Stone from the Wilkeson quarry. The sanctuary includes stained glass windows on the north and west facades and a bell tower on the northwest corner. The space seats 200 and includes a choir loft, a vaulted ceiling, and a still-functioning pipe organ dedicated in 1926. In a 1927 Tacoma architectural survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects, the church received an honorable mention in the Semi-Public and Cultural Buildings category.
The 17,000 square foot Education Wing, designed by prolific Seattle firm, Durham, Anderson & Freed, is of modern design and also features Wilkeson stone on its two-story west facade. The wing takes advantage of natural light from the east, south and west, as well as from a small interior courtyard. Interior features include classrooms, a large kitchen, and classic long, lean fireplaces in large lounge spaces on the first and second floors.
The Sixth Avenue Baptist Sunday School was organized in 1886 at Sixth and S. Anderson Street. The church was founded in 1901 with Reverend M.W. Miller as the first pastor. Architects Russell & Heath designed a 2-story frame and shingle church on Sixth and Fife that was used from 1902 until being moved to the rear of the lot for construction of the new sanctuary. The cornerstone for the new church was laid June 8, 1924 and the church was dedicated on April 12, 1925. Throughout the years, the church has served as a center for an array of community services including a food bank, a hospice program, the Boy Scouts, a preschool, Associated Ministries, and Habitat for Humanity.
The congregation could no longer support the building, placed it on the market in 2009 and sold it in mid-2011 to James Sheridan who owns other buildings on Sixth Avenue. Mr. Sheridan made repairs to the building, including a $60K membrane roof over the 1924 structure and interior improvements while retaining the historic fabric of the building. As of mid-2012, part of the building is being leased to the 200+ City Central Church congregation. The sanctuary and a large open space on the first floor are also being marketed as event spaces; for more information visit http://eventson6th.com The building was removed from Historic Tacoma's Watch List in July 2012.
Posted 2/12/09 revised 7/27/2012
Photo credit: Tim McDonald