Pacific Northwest | July 27, 2003Pacific Northwest MagazineJuly 27, 2003seattletimes.com home
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CONTENTS
COVER STORY
PLANT LIFE
TASTE
ON FITNESS
NORTHWEST LIVING
NOW & THEN
PREVIOUS ISSUES OF PACIFIC NW


WRITTEN BY PAUL DORPAT

God's House
Photo
The view looks north over West 58th Street (once also known here as Ballard Place) to a mansion whose institutional uses are not obvious because the large rooftop neon sign for the Simpson Bible Institute is seen only on edge from this point of view. After the Bible students moved on to Edmonds in 1977, the site was developed with townhouses.

 
 Photo
PAUL DORPAT
If the King County assessor's form has it right, then this oversized home at 101 W. 58th St. (three blocks west of Woodland Park) was built in 1911. Ten years later, the then-new Simpson Bible Institute purchased the mansion and its three-acre lot and built a four-story, 63-room dormitory behind and below it on one of the steepest parts of Phinney Ridge.

While the dormitory was spartan in the extreme, the mansion — with its large, covered porch, graceful rooflines and diverse windows — retained its external grace. That the inside was carved up to conform to the needs of the Bible college silenced any issue of saving the structure when the college moved out more than half a century later. This view of the mansion was found in a photo album that dates from the late 1920s. Albert Benjamin Simpson, for whom the school was named one year after his death, founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1887 in Nyack, N.Y. He was a "born again" enthusiast for sending missionaries to foreign lands, and students at the Simpson Institute would probably have considered that a great calling.

Judging by its daily schedule, school routines were indeed soul-searching: Students were awakened at 6:30 a.m. for a half-hour devotion. Chapel at 8:30, noonday missionary prayers from 11:30 to noon, after-supper prayers in the dining room, and meditations from 10 to lights out a half hour later.

The Simpson Institute closed in the mid-1950s, but the campus was soon revived with the Puget Sound Bible College. After it, too, moved out for new quarters in Edmonds in 1977, this oversize triangular lot was converted to townhouses.

Paul Dorpat and Genevieve McCoy's award-winning illustrated Washington state history, "Building Washington," is now available for $50 from Tartu Publications, P.O. Box 85208, Seattle, WA 98145; 206-547-7678.

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