Location: 618 Puget St NE
Religious institutions; Local register; Women’s History; Wohleb; Diversity: African-Americans
|Seventh Day Adventist Building, ca. 1950s, used by permission of Olympia Christian School|
Seventh Day Adventist Building today, photo by Joe Mabel, used by permission
Much of the information in this Where Are We? posting is taken from Rebecca Christie’s book, Workingman’s Hill, published by the Bigelow House Preservation Association.
Other pages in the Where Are We? project have described the “Musical Pews” of Olympia’s religious communities as they grow, move and take over existing church sites, and then move on (see, for example, the page for the Gloria Dei church). This site is another example and a particularly complex one.
The Bigelow Highlands neighborhood has long been associated with Evangelical and Pentecostal churches of various denominations. The property on the southeast corner of Puget and Bigelow was donated by Harriet Humphrey Henderson Noble for use as a church (see listing for Henderson House, across the street, for more about this interesting family). Mrs. Noble had been married to a “Quaker evangelist” and described herself as a Methodist Episcopal. In the early twentieth century, however, she was apparently increasingly drawn to Pentecostalism, which was a growing movement at that time. The first building at this location was an Assembly of God church, staffed by Pastor Jacob Secrist, who listed his occupation as “evangelist” in the census. The Secrist family is now in the fifth generation of evangelical service in the Olympia area.
In 1926 the site was sold to the Seventh Day Adventist church, which had been meeting at the old Congregational Church building at 10th and Capitol, and elsewhere. As that congregation grew, it required additional space and, after several years, it retained Olympia’s preeminent architect Joseph Wohleb to design the current church building, which was completed about 1937. The building is in a traditional ecclesiastical style with a three-story bell tower at one corner.
In 1979, when the Seventh Day Adventist church moved on to its current location on Henderson Boulevard, the building was acquired by the New Life Baptist Church, the first largely African-American congregation in Olympia. That congregation moved on to a location in Lacey in the 1990s, and, once again, an Assembly of God congregation known as the Metro Church occupied the site. At that time, the church became known as the host for the Christmas Island creche display that had once graced Capitol Lake, and then the South Sound Mall, during the holidays.
When that congregation moved to Maytown (along with its creche), the building was acquired by the Evergreen Christian Center, also associated with the Assemblies of God. The building is currently (2014) used as a neighborhood gathering place. It is on the local register.
Article on Christmas Island by Heather Lockman, blogger, accessed January 21, 2014
Washington State Historical Society (enter the following catalog numbers in Collections Search box), C19188.8.131.52.26.1.2