The February 21st episode of PIE featured a segment of “Wandering”, where we discover that on the site of a small Dollar-Rent-A-Car building was once a multi-storied church with a forboding facade.
The story of the church at 1900 Boren Avenue begins at the turn of the 20th century. Construction was completed by 1906 and the abbey doors were flung open to welcome the congregation of the ‘Norwegian Danish Methodist’, helping them build a community and assimilate into their new American lives.
Over time it became known as the ‘Central Methodist Church’, going on to serve the greater Methodist community of Seattle into the late 1950’s.
The late 60’s and early 70’s saw the church under the charge of ‘The American Indian Women’s Service League’ where a dedicated staff served the local indigenous population by promoting community events while offering social and educational advocacy services. Their occupancy in the building however, was brief.
Then in 1977 the church became perhaps its most memorable incarnation. Renamed ‘The Monastery’, George Freeman served as lead chaplain of the venue that become equal parts dance church and controversial nightclub. ‘The Monastery’ provided safe refuge for Seattle’s disenfranchised gay community to party the night away amid a sea of neon lights and sonorous disco tunes. It developed a reputation for wild partying, drugs, dancing, sex and a lax policy on underage patrons; a civil order branded the venue as a moral nuisance and forced the business to close its doors forever in 1985.
In an attempt to revive the building, The Bright and Morning Star Baptist Church operated out of the church for a number of years but struggled to maintain funding. The final tenant of the church eventually had to cease operation by the middle of 1993.
The years that followed saw the building fall into a state of considerable disrepair, eventually being demolished in late 1998. Dollar Developments has been operating a rental car service upon the site ever since, the most long lived tenant of the space since the early 1900’s.
The Church at 1900 Boren stood for 92 years and left an indelible mark upon generations of Seattleites from every walk of life. Wandering by Boren and Stewart today no one would suspect its history, as if it’s very existence were nothing more than a whispered moment in time. Swallowed up by the city so new stories can be told.