Later Additions to the Buildings

The most dramatic alteration to the First United Methodist Church was the removal and reconstruction of the front stairs. As a result of the new design scheme, the main entrance to the church is entered from each side and the back of the "auditorium". This eliminated the original sequence of movement from street to sanctuary intended by the architects, and created a wall along Fifth Avenue. It was said to be necessary to improve access to the church. It was designed by John Graham & Co, in conjunction with the design of the Education Wing in 1950. Removal of much of the building's elaborate cornice, which occurred about 1990, also affects today's appearance of the building.

Although the two-to-four story Education Wing is an addition to the First United Methodist Church sanctuary, it really 'reads' as a separate structure. It is so different from the church in architectural vocabulary, materials, and massing that if not for the awkwardly designed front entry adjacent to the sanctuary, one could easily imagine that it was a freestanding structure. Together, however, the two structures form a landscaped courtyard that is a welcome relief from the hard surfaces surrounding it. Note that a multi-story apartment building (originally the Nurses House of Seattle General Hospital) was located adjacent to the south side of the sanctuary for the first 42 years of its existence, partially obscuring the stained glass window and other features on this fašade. So the Education Wing was an improvement in that it did not overpower the sanctuary, nor obscure the symmetry of its design.

The most dramatic addition to the Rainier Club occurred in 1928-1929. The highly respected Seattle firm of Bebb & Gould was hired to design an addition to the structure. They chose to build an additional central bay and a south bay that replicates the northern-most bay, in essence extending the symmetrical design scheme by an additional 54 feet to the south. The main entry from Fourth Avenue, which originally featured an entry vestibule with three Gothic arches, was altered, and a grand lobby decorated in the art deco style of the day was added to the south end of the building. The interior was extensively reconfigured, but one of the main features, the large fireplace and inglenook in the main lounge, remain to this day. Although individual new feature increase the eclecticism of this structure, the addition was considered highly successful from the time it was constructed, and the art deco lobby remains to this day a surprisingly complementary addition to the original manorial interiors.

 

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