Now & Then -- Queen Anne's Spanish Mission (Seattle)

  • By Paul Dorpat
  • Posted 2/27/2001
  • Essay 3024

This file contains Seattle historian and photographer Paul Dorpat's Now & Then photographs and reflections on St. Anne's Catholic parish in Seattle's Queen Anne neighborhood.

The Spanish Mission

The Spanish mission which Catholics chose for their first parish atop Queen Anne Hill was an exotic landmark among the hill's clapboards. Suited, perhaps, for a drier climate, its stucco skin was soon penetrated by the rains which swept from Puget Sound across the face of the hill. Even in this view, photographed within a few years of the church's 1908 dedication, the weather's spots and streaks are forming on the church's facade.

As the neighborhood grew so did the congregation. Most importantly, the dedication of a parochial school behind the church in 1923 was an addition expected of most prospering catholic parishes. And, of course, the new school required a convent for the sisters who taught there.

In the year of the school's construction, the arrival from Limerick County of what the church's thumbnail history described as "the handsome Irish priest" was an event especially fortunate for the new school for it quickly became the young Father Thomas Quain's primary interest. Marcelli Hickman, a St. Anne's parishioner since the mid 1930s, remembers the persuasive Quain's promotions. On one occasion the priest announced from his pulpit that he was about to descend from his pulpit to take up a collection for new baseball uniforms and that he did not want to hear any jingling only rustling as he passed the plate.

By the year of Father Quain's arrival the church was practically a ruin. So soon, in 1926, it was rebuilt inside and out and the crumbling stucco was covered with shingles, considerably diminishing the sanctuary's Spanish effect. In 1946, the expanding parish converted the building's basement hall into a second chapel and two 11 o'clock morning masses were run concurrently, upstairs and down.

When he died in 1959, Father Quain was 37 years at St. Anne's. On December 24, 1959, he was laid in state in the church's chancel, surrounded by candles and hundreds of parishioners many of who had been baptized, confirmed, and married by this priest. Within four years, the congregation moved into its new sanctuary across Lee Street and the old parish site was cleared for an expansion of the school playground.


Paul Dorpat, "Now & Then: Queen Anne Spanish Mission," The Seattle Times, Northwest Magazine, November 26, 1995.
Note: This is a revision of the original version.

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