Pacific Northwest | April 18, 2004Pacific Northwest MagazineApril 18, 2004seattletimes.com home
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PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

Immaculate Conception is Born
 
 Photo
COURTESY OF LOOMIS MILLER
An official local landmark since 1977, this year the Immaculate Conception Parish at 18th Avenue and Marion Street celebrates its centennial.
Photo
PAUL DORPAT
THE TWIN Italianate towers of the Immaculate Conception Church have distinguished Seattle's skyline from their pedestal on Seattle's Second Hill (aka Renton Hill) for nearly 100 years. The ground was broken for Seattle's oldest surviving Roman Catholic sanctuary (used continuously for services) in April 1904, and the first ceremonial opportunity that followed was the traditional laying of the cornerstone.

The May 15 procession up the hill from the interim parish (in what has since been renamed the Gerrard Building on the campus of Seattle University) to the foundation work for the new parish at 18th Avenue and Marion Street was given historical perspective on the spot by Bishop Edward O'Dea. "Twenty years ago one small church sufficed for the needs or our limited membership, and now we have four churches and 14 priests."

In less than seven months, Seattle's Catholics were ready to march up the hill again for the dedication on Dec. 4. The eight-block procession was led by a platoon of local police and Wagner's Band, the traditional accompanists for Seattle celebrations. Behind the band marched the Hibernian Knights, the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Foresters of Seattle, Tacoma and Ballard — Ballard was then still its own town. Bishop O'Dea and ranked clergy were fit in carriages to elegantly cap but not conclude the procession. "Following them and lining the route" to quote from an early history of the parish, "was a motley but magnificent parade of priests, sisters and local gentry all in a jovial spirit."

Father Prefontaine, Seattle's pioneer priest who arrived here in 1867, assisted Bishop O'Dea at the Mass of dedication.

Paul Dorpat specializes in historical photography and has published several books on early Seattle.

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