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Originally published Friday, May 10, 2013 at 9:50 AM

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Lutherans on the move

Denny Park Lutheran Church has changed its name and affiliations a few times during the past 125 years while building four sanctuaries on four corners of Seattle's expanding business district.

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DENNY PARK Lutheran Church celebrated its 125th anniversary on April 28. Through the years, the parish has changed its name and affiliations a few times while building four sanctuaries on four different corners near the expanding northern end of Seattle's business district.

This, the first of the congregation's homes, was built quickly at the northeast corner of Pine Street and Fourth Avenue on a lot that cost $2,000 in 1888 and was sold for $19,000 a dozen years later. The congregation soon moved seven blocks north to Fifth Avenue and Wall Street, and built on a cheaper lot. These adept economics were typical of many churches sitting on lots made increasingly valuable during those booming years of Seattle's growth.

Named the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church by its 16 founding members in 1888, the church first held services nearby in the Swedish Lutheran Church and, when ready, in the basement of their new sanctuary. By 1890 there were 20 churches within six blocks of these Lutherans, seven of them identified by their attachment to Sweden, Norway and/or Denmark. In the 1890s, thousands more Scandinavians moved here, where nearly everything was like the old country: the fish, the trees, the snow-capped peaks — but not a state religion.

The congregation that had moved to Fifth and Wall in 1904 had to raze that sanctuary five years later when Denny Hill was razed. Sanctuary No. 3 was built at Boren Avenue and Virginia Street. It was the congregation's home from 1912 to 1939, when they moved again, this time to Eighth Avenue and John Street. The parish then changed its name to Denny Park Lutheran Church, identifying with the "green pastures" of its neighbor, the city's oldest public park.

Check out Paul Dorpat and Jean Sherrard's blog at www.pauldorpat.com.

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