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Saint James Cathedral

804 Ninth Avenue, Seattle

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Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation.
This image is available as a poster, print, and digital download.

Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
This image is available as a poster, print, and digital download.

Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
This image is available as a poster, print, and digital download.

Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
This image is available as a poster, print, and digital download.

Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
This image is available as a poster, print, and digital download.

Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation

Location

Address

804 Ninth Avenue, Seattle, Washington, United States 98104

Bordering Streets

Marion Street
Terry Avenue
Columbia Street
Ninth Avenue

Neighborhood

First Hill

Fast Facts

Formerly Known As

• Saints James and Augustine Church

Built

1907

Maximum Height

175 feet / 53 meters

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood above the bustle of downtown Seattle, Saint James Cathedral has a commanding view of the city's skyline, while its twin steeples mark its place in the heart of the community.

The cathedral as you see it today is not the cathedral as it was intended. It originally had a 40-foot-tall copper dome nestled at the center of its cross design. The dome was considered quite an engineering feat at the time, because its weight was supposed by the building's exterior walls instead of separate columns that would have interrupted the interior space.

But its tenure as an admired engineering achievement were short-lived. The dome collapsed one afternoon a decade after it was erected because of a heavy snowfall and was never replaced. However, in a sense this may have been a blessing because preciously, there were many complaints about the cathedral's acoustics, which were adversely affected by the echoing dome.

Interestingly, according to the Centennial Gazette, a local real estate developer opposed construction of the dome all alone, claiming that it would be dangerous. Others thought the cathedral was "indestructible." History has demonstrated which side was correct, and the space where the dome once was now features a reproduction of Raphael's Ascension.

The cathedral also used to illuminate its western cross at night, and it was a beacon visible to sailors in Puget Sound.

Raw Data

Construction Start

1905

Construction End

1907

Renovated

• 1917 by John Graham
• 1950
• 1994 by Bungardner Architects

Size[Explanation ♐]

Maximum Height: 175 feet / 53 meters

Noteworthy Facts

• While this cathedral was under construction, Saint Edward's Chapel was the seat of the bishop. Saint Edwards has since been demolished.

• The bronze doors and the tabernacle are both by Ulrich Henn.
• The altar was made by Neri di Bicci, of Florence in 1456.
• The cornerstone contains a time capsule with newspapers, coins, pictures of the previous two cathedrals, and other items.
• It is claimed that the first radio broadcast of a Catholic sermon took place at this cathedral on February 5, 1922.
• The relics of Mother Cabrini are located beneath the altar.
• The cathedral contains a painting by Neri di Bicci called Virgin and Child with Six Saints, painted around 1471.

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Attributes

• church - See more: (local) (region) (global)
• holy place - See more: (local) (region) (global)

People and Companies

Developer

Diocese of Nesqually (now the Archdiocese of Seattle)

Architect

Heins and Lafarge

Timeline

• 1903: The property for this cathedral was purchased by the Diocese of Nesqually.
• November 13, 1904: Saint Edward's Chapen opened.
• 1905: Construction began.
• November 12, 1905: The cornerstone was laid.
• September 11, 1907: The Vatican grants permission to change the name of this church from Saints James and Augustine to Saint James Cathedral.
• December 22, 1907: The cathedral opened.
• 1908: A screen is placed across the mouth of the cathedral dome to correct its acoustics.
• February 2, 1916: The cathedral closed after a dome collapsed because of the weight of snow.
• March 18, 1917: The cathedral reopened.
• 1917-1919: Stained glass by Charles Connick was installed.
• 1973: A deranged man vandalized the cathedral interior.
• 1992: An arsonist cause $1 million damage to the cathedral.
• December 22, 1994: The cathedral is rededicated.
• 1994: Three stained glass windows by Hans Gottfried von Stockhausen were installed.
• 1997: Archbishop Murphy becomes the first person buried in the crypt.
• 1999: The bronze doors were installed.
• 2003: The bronze tabernacle was installed.

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