Church preservation focus of Historic Tacoma fall lecture series

A local group that advocates for the preservation of historic churches announced yesterday it will host a fall lecture series that will examine the architectural significance of Tacoma’s historic churches.

Historic Tacoma will present three monthly events beginning Sept. 25 over the next three months. The series is free and open to the public.

“Tacoma is home to a number of architecturally and culturally significant church buildings, each one a powerful presence and anchor in its neighborhood,” said Historic Tacoma board president Sharon Winters in a statement. “Across the country, urban ministries are struggling to maintain their historic structures, in light of declining membership and decreased revenues.”

In February, Historic Tacoma initiated discussions to help these congregations identify the information and resources to address building stewardship and long term maintenance. According to Winters, the group is meeting monthly to craft an ecumenical approach to the preservation and rehabilitation of these buildings.

The schedule includes:

— Tues., Sept. 25, 7 pm, Tacoma’s Historic Churches: Architectural styles, history, and their contributions to the development of Tacoma and its neighborhoods, Speaker: Gerald Eysaman, AIA, Location: Center for Spiritual Living, 206 N. J St.

— Tues., Oct. 30, 7 pm, Historic Building Stewardship: The challenges, realities and opportunities, Panelists: Gary Knudson, AIA, and Gene Grulich, AIA, Location: First Congregational Church, 209 S. J St.

— Tues., Nov. 27, 7 pm, The Religious Iconography of Tacoma’s Churches: A lecture and building tour, Speaker: Caroline Swope, architectural historian
Location: First Presbyterian Church, 20 S. Tacoma Ave. South

In January, 90-year-old First United Methodist Church was demolished after Multicare Health System purchased the land and building from the congregation. The hospital is expanding its campus footprint to include the former church site.

Historic Tacoma, a private, non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to preserving Tacoma’s architectural legacy through education and advocacy. Historic Tacoma advocates for the thoughtful preservation and rehabilitation of historic structures, sites, and neighborhoods, while urging policy makers, developers and citizens to consider the value and unique qualities of historic structures.

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