AKA: Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, House of the Good Shepherd, Wallingford, Seattle, WA; Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Good Shepherd Center, Wallingford, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - performing arts structures - performing arts structures; built works - religious structures

Designers: Breitung and Buchinger, Architects (firm); Conradin Alfred Breitung (architect); Theobald Buchinger (architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907

3 stories

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4649 Sunnyside Avenue North
Wallingford, Seattle, WA 98103-6900

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The Sisters of the Good Shepherd Order arrived in Seattle on 07/30/1890, and were housed in a donated 7-room residence. Sixteen years later, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd erected this large, Neo-Classical facility to provide housing for the nuns and to serve young women "...seeking shelter, education, and training." (See Historic Seattle, "Good Shepherd Center," accessed 03/16/2016.) The facility served various purposes including as a residence for "incorrigible" (often runaway) girls, orphanage and school, from early 1907 until it closed in 1973. Newspapers referred to the building complex as the "House of the Good Shepherd," although popular usage has more recently called it the "Home of the Good Shepherd." The short-lived architectural partnership of C. Alfred Breitung and Theobald Buchinger (operating for only three years between 1905 and 1907) designed the center, as well as at least six other buildings for the local Roman Catholic Archdiocese.

Building History

The Home of the Good Shepherd building complex provided welfare services to girls and young women beginning in mid-1907. Sited on 11.5-acres, the facility originally had multiple functions, a including as a convent, "home for wayward girls," and orphanage. In later years, it housed a parochial school The complex had three components: a main, hipped-roof portion, three-stories tall, supported by masonry walls and cast-iron columns; the south annex, a one-story buidling topped by a hipped roof that housed the central coal-fired heating plant; and a two-floor north annex built to house classrooms in 1953. At the beginning, the north side of the main building housed the convent, the central portion contained the chapel with its stained glass windows, and the south side housed orphans and delinquent girls. Linked to the main building by an arcade, the south annex had load-bearing masonry walls supporting wood trusses spanning a large space for the furnace and, later, an institutional laundry. It also had a large smokestack for the furnace. The laundry was replaced by a gymnasium serving the school. The north annex, built in 1953, had to pass tougher state seismic building codes for schools, and did not include load-bearing brick or masonry walls, but used reinforced concrete walls and floors to support steel trusses. Originally, the main entry, trimmed by landscaping, faced east, and rubble retaining walls reinforced the north and west sides of the property. Orchards and vegetable gardens were tended on the acreage.

In 02/1906, the Seattle Times noted that a new Roman Catholic facility was being erected on 15 acres in the then peripheral neighborhood of Wallingford: "Architects Breitung & Buchinger are the designers of this handsome and massive new House of the Good Shepherd, to be built on a tract of fifteen [sic] acres between Forty-seventh and Fiftieth Avenues North and between Meridian and Eastern Streets. Brick, stone and concrete will be the materials used, and the structure will contain the most modern appliances of every sort. There will be steam heat and ventilation, sanitary plumbing of the most approved type of electric lights and motive power. The building will be 60 x 256 feet and five stories high. It is designed in the style of the Italian Renaissance. The cost will be $80,000. Contracts for clearing, grading and excavating the site have been let. The building proper will be started March 1." (See "New House of the Good Shepherd," Seattle Times, 02/04/1906, Social Section, p. 6.) Construction probably began in 03/1906, and was well underway by 08/1906, when the builidng process had to be halted for a few days to remedy some fire code violations. Construction resumed by 08/25/1906, and was completed in the first half of 1907 at a cost of $125,000. (See Earl D. Layman, City of Seattle, "Landmarks Preservation Board, Report on Landmark Designation Good Shepherd Center/Home of the Good Shepherd, 4647 Sunnyside North," accessed 03/16/2016.) Services began on 07/31/1907, about 17 years to the day that the sisters arrived in the city.

In 1939, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd founded a four-year high school for troubled girls, Saint Euphrasia's School. It has been estimated that about 60% of the students at Saint Euphrasia were Protestant. Despite this, all students had to attend mass in the chapel daily, and participated in operating a laundry, cleaning linens sent there by local Northern Pacific and Great Northern Railway depots. By 1950, the school had about 175 students, although declining numbers of students necessitated its closing by 1973. At this time, developers proposed constructing an 11-acre shopping center on the site, but the neighborhood rejected this idea.

The City of Seattle purchased the building in 1975 using residual local Forward Thrust bond issue money and some Federal funding, and gave it to Historic Seattle, its historic preservation agancy. The City of Seattle Landmarks Board designated the building a landmark on 09/16/1981, and approved controls and incentives for preserving it on 12/16/1981. Four of the remaining five nuns to live at the Home of the Good Shepherd, left the facility on 07/30/1997; one--Sister Vera Gallagher--remained to run a counseling center that she founded.

While owned by Historic Seattle, the Good Shepherd Center has had 6 live-work artists lofts added (early 2002), as well as a 150-seat performance hall in what was a fourth-floor chapel. Thirty-three Non-profit organizations and individuals occupied space in the Good Shepherd Center in 2011, including: the Meridian School, Neo Art School, the Wallingford Senior Center, the Alliance Française, and Seattle Tilth. (A full list is atAccessed 03/02/2011.) Historic Seattle marked the building's 100th birthday in a ceremony on 07/22/2007.

Building Notes

Breitung and Buchinger produced a design influenced by Italian Baroque architecture. The broken pediment located on the second floor above the front door was the most obvious Baroque feature, but the building's rustication pattern (on the first floor) and the use of the colossal order of pilasters on the second-third levels, can also be seen in Italian architecture of the 17th century. The pilasters were adorned with Corinthian capitals.

According to architectural historian, Dennis A. Andersen, the House of the Good Shepherd was Breitung and Buchinger's first large commission obtained from the Seattle Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in 1906. They would go on to produce several more buildings for the local Catholic community, including The Academy of Holy Names, Seattle, WA, (1906-1908), the Saint Joseph Church, Seattle, WA, (1906-1907), and the Saint Alphonsus Church, Seattle, WA, (1906-1907), among others. (See Dennis A. Andersen, "Breitung & Buchinger," in Shaping Seattle Architecture, Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, Editor, [Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994], p. 86.) The Good Shepherd Center has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and the City of Seattle Landmark list in1984 (Ordinance #111882).

A newspaper article of 02/04/1906 described the basic characteristics of the The King County Assessor indicated in 2016 that the Home of the Good Shepherd occupied a 182,891-square-foot (4.2-acre) lot.


Originally, a cupola rose from the center of the roof. This was taken down c. 1970 after a fire

The chapel on the Good Shepherd Center's 4th floor was altered to become a performing arts and rehearsal space c. 2002. Six live-work lofts--from 580 to 650 square feet in size--for artists were also completed in 2002. A swimming pool left over from the institution's early days was filled in, and its bath house/changing rooms were transformed into picnic shelters. Seattle Tilth, the urban agriculture group, operated a P-Patch on land to the building's south. City of Seattle funds were used, in addition to private money, to update the property's playground in 1998 and 2007.

Seattle Historic Landmark (1984-09-10 ): 111882

National Register of Historic Places (1978-05-23): 78002753 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 13062