Historic Tacoma adds 6th Avenue Baptist Church to endangered watch list

Historic Tacoma announced yesterday it has placed the 6th Avenue Baptist Church (pictured) on its Watch List of endangered properties.

According to the non-profit preservation advocacy group, the Gothic Revival 1924 church was designed by well-known Tacoma architectural firm Heath, Bell & Gove, and was constructed of Walker Cut Stone from the Wilkeson quarry. The sanctuary includes stained glass windows, a bell tower, seating for 200 people, 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. Currently, the 25,800 square foot building, located at 2520 Sixth Ave., is for sale for $2.1 million. The congregation is currently working with a potential buyer.

“Our goal in publishing this evolving list is to increase awareness of historic properties in transition to facilitate their conservation and re-use,” said Historic Tacoma Board President Sharon Winters in a statement. “We continue to work with the 6th Avenue Merchant’s Association and Pastor Melinda Jarrett toward those ends.”

In the same statement, Historic Tacoma notes 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 placed the building on the market in January. It is listed by Keller Williams agent Robert Green.

In addition to 6th Avenue Baptist Church, Historic Tacoma’s Watch List includes the Brewery District (including the Heidelberg Brewery); Elks Lodge; First Congregational Church; Luzon Building; John R. Rogers Elementary; Murray Morgan Bridge; Trinity United Methodist Church; University-Union Club; and the Wedge neighborhood.

For more information about Historic Tacoma’s Watch List, visit http://www.historictacoma.net/ht/watch_list/

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