AKA: First African Methodist (FAME) Church, Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA

Structure Type: built works - religious structures - churches

Designers: Dudley, Alpheus, Architect (firm); Livers, E.L., Building Contractor (firm); McAdoo, Benjamin F., Jr., Architect (firm); Spinck, R.M., Building Contractor (firm); Alpheus Dudley (architect/building contractor); Ernest Leslie Livers (building contractor); Benjamin Franklin McAdoo Jr. (architect); R. M. Spinck (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1912

2 stories

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1522 14th Avenue
Capitol Hill, Seattle, WA 98122-4024

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This was the second house of worship for the First African Methodist Episcopal congregation, formed in 1885-1886. It was completed win 1912, with an addition made by the noted architect Benjamin McAdoo in the 1950s.

Building History

The Seattle Landmarks Board declared the 1st African Methodist Episcopal Church a City of Seattle Landmark on 08/20/1980. The Landmarks Board noted of the church in its nomination form to the landmarks list: "Seattle's First A.M.E. Church is of important historical and sociological significance as the first black church mission to have been established in the city. The congregation was established between 1885 and 1886, and according to church records was incorporated in 1890. The present edifice replaces an earlier frame structure which had been moved to the present site from a lot immediately to the north in 1904. Dating from 1912, the present structure is architecturally similar to many other churches built in Seattle during the first decades of the twentieth century for 'establishment' protestant denominations. The church represents a most important element of the black community's heritage and continues to play an important social role." (See City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.gov, "Report on Designation First African Methodist Episcopal Church," published 04/10/1980, accessed 10/19/2023.)

The well-traveled Seattle architect Alpheus Dudley (1872-1971) designed the original 1912 portion of the 1st African Methodists Episcopal Church in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Building Notes

The Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board report described the church in 1980: "First A.M.E. Church was designed by A. Dudley and built in 1912 in a combination of brick and fram construction on a concrete foundation. The original portion of the church consists simply of a two-story-high rectangular mass with a pitched roof and a square-based tower incorporated at the southwest corner. In the mid-1950s, a two-story wing was added at the north side of the church well behind the entrance facade." (See City of Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board.gov, "Report on Designation First African Methodist Episcopal Church," published 04/10/1980, accessed 10/19/2023.)

The building possessed minimal Gothic ornamentation, with other details common to churches of the period. The front facade contains the Gothic features, seen in its two, pointed-arch windows and hood moldings, and the pointed-arched, vented opening of the belltower. Two round-arched openings flanked the stairs and main entrance, which looks to have been modernized in the 1950s. Perhaps for reasons of economy, the church was not faced in all brick, but transitions from that material to stucco at the second-floor level. The styling of the church's upper portion aligns closely with other churches of the time period, down to the pedimented parapet and the Arts-and-Crafts-influenced detailing of the bell tower. The church utilized many stained glass windows to illuminate its nave and sanctuary.


Architect Benjamin F. McAdoo, a prominent figure in Seattle's African-American community from the 1950s through the 1970s, drew plans for a $100,000 addition to the 1st African Methodist Episcopal Church completed by 08/1955. E.L. Livers served the congregation as the building contractor. Five years of planning and fund-raising preceded the addition's completion. The Seattle Times noted in 02/1955: "The present structure, which was built in 1913, is inadequate because of the large influx of parishioners in the past few years, the Rev. C.D. Toliver, pastor, said. Plans for the building, designed by Benjamin F. McAdoo, Jr., architect, include an enlarged sancturary with a new wing for religious education. Kitchen, nursery, and choir facilities also are provided. It is hoped the building will be completed by August to accommodate the annual conference of the church that month, Mr. Tolliver said." (See $100,000 to Be Spent on Church, Seattle Times, 02/20/1955, p. 19.)

Seattle Historic Landmark (Listed 1980-10-01): ID n/a

PCAD id: 5284