Historic Seattle’s Role:
After providing over 60 years of service to young women seeking shelter, education, and training, declining numbers of residents forced the Home of the Good Shepherd to close in 1973. After the Wallingford community defeated a proposal to turn the 11-acre site into a shopping center, the City of Seattle bought the property in 1975 with Forward Thrust and Federal Revenue Sharing funds and then transferred the buildings to Historic Seattle for use as a multi-purpose community center. The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a Seattle Landmark in 1984.
Current and Future Uses:
The property is owned and operated by Historic Seattle and the center currently houses nonprofit organizations and schools including the Meridian School, Neo Art School, the Wallingford Senior Center, the Alliance Française, and Seattle Tilth.
Historic Seattle added six live/work units for artists in early 2002. Ranging in size from 580 to 650 sq. feet, the artist studios are located in a space once used for the school’s dance classes and costume storage. The artist residents are a diverse group and bring much creativity and enthusiasm to the Good Shepherd Center community.
Historic Seattle also completed a small performance and rehearsal space (The Chapel Space) with a seating capacity of 100-150 in the former fourth floor chapel. Accessible by elevator, this beautiful, two-story space features wooden floors, columns, and stained glass.
Historic Seattle partnered with NonSequitur, a music production non-profit, who not only stages twelve of their own performances per month, but serves as booking agent for other community events and performances in the Chapel.
The Good Shepherd Center is unreinforced masonry (URM) and was deemed “Critical Risk” in Seattle’s URM assessment because of its many uses. The property is also listed by the City of Seattle as an earthquake communications hub, the only place in the city that is both a URM & emergency hub in the event of an earthquake. Historic Seattle is conducting a seismic retrofit of this important property. In our first phase of work, phase 1A, our organization conducted exploratory demolition to verify seismic status and load-test attachment points and created a preliminary design for the retrofit. With the knowledge obtained from that phase, we moved forward with phase 1B to develop the final design (completed in 2020) and begin work on the most critical elements, the floor-to-wall connections (to begin in 2022). Approximately 70% of the building’s floor-to-wall connections will be completed in phase 1B, the highest priority work identified by our architect and structural engineer.
Photo: Chris Robinson