St. Paul’s: The Space Needle’s Unlikely Companion

 

The Space Needle, as the most readily-identifiable landmark in the Seattle skyline, is without a doubt the best-known structure created for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. Seattle Center served as the main stage for the World’s Fair and features dozen of other buildings and structures that were originally built for fair use. Among others, this includes the retro, Space Age monorail; Key Arena, which sits like a starched and folded handkerchief on the plaza; and a sports stadium (adapted for the World’s Fair) with a grand east entrance that now opens into a parking lot with aging pay structures and signs “pay at machines only, no attendant.” The whole area functions as a park with a little too much concrete but chock full of event spaces and museums.

The World’s Fair influence does not stop at the borders of Seattle Center. As the Olympics does today, the Fair directly and indirectly led to a variety of changes in the surrounding city landscape. Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, several blocks northwest of Seattle Center, was built in tandem with the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. The building has a flair of style that can only have been encouraged by the architectural fervor on the fairgrounds.

 

Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church is a steep-sided A-frame building. The incredibly steep roof is softened by swooping waves that stretch from the roofline and arch outward over the ground-floor windows. Both gable ends are decorated with diamond-shaped copper shingles.

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St. Paul’s front facade.

The Church went through a renovation that was completed in 2011. A tasteful, glass entry space was added to the building and interior changes were made. The character-defining roof remains much the same as the original, its vast height and undulating curves intriguing onlookers from blocks away. The unique roof is even eye-catching from the viewing deck of the church’s unlikely historic companion, the Seattle Space Needle.

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The front facade: diamond copper shingles.
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St. Paul’s as viewed from across the street.
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Fr. John Lockerby in front of the under-construction St. Paul’s (1962). Photo courtesy of St. Paul’s, Seattle.

Sources and further reading:

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has a brief history of the building on their website, as well as a fantastic historic photograph (seen above).

Arch Daily has a write-up covering the renovations that includes some spectacular interior photographs. I definitely recommend a scroll through these if you’re as curious as I was about the interior of this building!

The historic photograph is courtesy to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; all others are my own.

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