A Floating Church in Seattle

I suspect that few people who walk up Jackson Street in Seattle’s international district realize they are walking past a floating church. Technically, it’s no longer a church nor is it truly floating but it is suspended above the street. The building is located on the northwest corner of South Jackson Street and Maynard Avenue South.

Here’s a shot of the modern building.

Former Japanese Baptist Church, Seattle
Former Japanese Baptist Church, Seattle

The former church is the top half of the building. Built around 1893, it sat on this corner until 1907, when the city began the Jackson Street Regrade. Often overlooked, it was the city’s largest, at least from the number of altered blocks. The project regraded 56 blocks and led to the excavation and subsequent embankment of 6.4 million cubic yards of material.

At Jackson and Maynard, the regrade lowered the street by 20 to 25 feet. Apparently the church owners did not want to destroy their building so they decided to save it and hired Lemuel B. Gullett, a local house mover, to move it.

Japanese Church, February 1910, photo from Washington State Historical Society
Japanese Church, February 1910, photo from Washington State Historical Society

After the church was shored up on pallets, a new one-story brick structure, or foundation, was built on the site. Gullett then lowered the church on to its new foundation. In later years, the church became the Havana Hotel before undergoing renovation in 1984 and morphing into its present incarnation.




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