Sacred Heart Church Convent

6th Avenue between Bell and Battery

Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 6th Avenue and Bell Street, Seattle, ca. 1906, Courtesy UW Special Collection (CUR188)
Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus interior, Seattle, 1904, Courtesy UW Special Collection (CUR192)
1904 Sacred Heart School, 6th Ave. between Bell St. and Battery St., Seattle, ca. 1904
Sacred Heart Church tower, 6th Avenue and Bell Street, Seattle, 1920s, Courtesy UW Special Collection (CFT0106)
1928 9 Sacred Heart Church convent, Seattle, ca. 1928, Courtesy MOHAI (1983.10.3565.1)
Sacred Heart Catholic tower (top left) before regrade, Seattle, June 27, 1910, Courtesy UW Special Collection (SEA1322)
Sacred Heart Church tower demolition, Seattle, 1929

6th Avenue between Bell and Battery

Two catholic churches have stood at this location. Neither had happy final days. The first Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart celebrated its first Mass on Christmas Day 1889. Built of brick in Gothic style, the building burned beyond redemption on March 19, 1899. A newspaper reporter wrote that the fire was most likely started by incendiary. “The priests more than suspect it; the layman say so boldly.” Three previous attempts had already been made at burning the building.

Four months later, Bishop Edward J. O’Dea laid the cornerstone for a new church, which opened in July 1900. That brick structure survived until March 29, 1929, ironically Good Friday. On that day, A.E. Swadener of the Vulcan Powder Company placed 20 sticks of dynamite under the building’s last remaining element, the church’s 100-foot steeple. When the dust settled, the tower still stood. Two more attempts led to two more failures. Finally on the fourth attempt, the tower collapsed. Those in attendance saw the tower’s resistance as “the intervention of a divine rejoiner [sic] against man’s reducing process.”

The church was the second of the two, landmark Denny Hill structures to be destroyed during the fifth and final regrade. The other was the great Denny School, which stood between 5th and 6th avenues at Wall Street. It had also been affected by the fourth regrade when the school’s west wing was lopped off: the regrade boundary had run through the structure and progress apparently trumped education.

Walk east one block to 7th Avenue, turn left and follow 7th as it curves and becomes Dexter Avenue. Continue to Denny Way and cross the street to the green space on the north side of Denny.

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