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Summary for 8445 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 2123700014 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Dunlap Baptist Church Common Name: Medhame-Alem Evangelical Church
Style: Modern Neighborhood:
Built By: Year Built: 1950
In the opinion of the survey, this property appears to meet the criteria of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the opinion of the survey, this property is located in a potential historic districe (National and/or local).

Dunlap Baptist Church is significant due to its association with Jimi Hendrix; its association with the African American, Ethiopian, and Eritrean communities in South Seattle; and, its architectural merit as an example of a mid-twentieth century Modern church.

The church is located at the south end of the Rainier Valley in the Dunlap neighborhood. While the building was constructed during the early 1950s, the Dunlap Baptist Church was established earlier and originally held services in a different building on the edge of the Rainier View neighborhood. In 1953, the congregation moved to this building. On October 1, 1970, it held the private funeral of Jimi Hendrix. In 2006, the Dunlap Baptist congregation sold the church to the Medhane-Alem Evangelical Church for $2.5 million. The Medhane-Alem Evangelical Church is an Ethiopian and Eritrean congregation. They currently focus on worship, educational programming, and outreach groups for the parishioners.

Substantial residential and commercial development in South Seattle and the Rainier Valley occurred when a transportation corridor connecting the Rainier Valley to downtown and Seattle’s industrial district was constructed along Rainier Avenue during the late nineteenth century. Development in the valley was facilitated by logging during the 1880s, the operation of the Rainier Valley Electric Railway in the 1890s, and the Jackson and Dearborn Street re-grades in the 1900s. Milling was the primary commercial industry during the last part of the nineteenth century although some agricultural activity existed. As residential development increased, Rainier Avenue gradually became the principal commercial corridor connecting the residential neighborhoods of South Seattle to downtown, the International District, and Seattle’s industrial districts. World War II brought additional building growth related to the wartime industry, as well as the influx of defense workers to nearby Boeing and the Duwamish shipyards. 

Due to the same exclusion laws that affected most minorities, African Americans did not begin to have a significant presence in South Seattle until the 1940s. However, it was not until the 1950s and 1960s that large numbers of families were able move out of Seattle’s established black neighborhoods. Furthermore, it was not until the passage of the Open Housing Ordinance by the Seattle City Council in 1968 that the ability of non-whites to relocate to the Rainier Valley substantially increased. This church reflects the gradual racial integration of Seattle’s neighborhoods and the Rainier Valley’s contemporary ethnic and economic diversity.


The 57,840 square foot lot for this Modern-styled church is located between South Thistle and South Cloverdale Streets and was originally platted for Dunlap’s Plat on Lake Washington. The front entrance of the church’s main sanctuary is oriented eastwards onto Rainer Avenue South, and a parking lot is located behind the building.  Constructed during in 1953, this two-story church has an irregular floor plan, a poured concrete foundation, and a flat parapet roof that is capped by a contrasting trim. The church’s main sanctuary is sited closer to the street while an auxiliary building on the south end of the property is set back. A large yard is located in front of the auxiliary building, and the two buildings are joined by a connecting corridor.

Varied planes define the front elevation of the main sanctuary. It has mottled brick cladding with cut stone trim around the base and upper courses, as well as around the windows. A large, contrasting, cut stone cross is located to the left of the main entrance and stands in relief from the primary wall plane. The twin, double-door entryway is covered by a flat, cantilevered awning, and a wide walkway leads from the street to the entrance. The auxiliary building is clad in cut stone on the first story and stucco on the second story. A cut stone drip-course separates the two courses. In general, windows throughout the church are aluminum casement windows with square, amber lights. A set of parallel, narrow 8-lite aluminum casement windows are located directly above the entryway doors, while a vertical 22-lite aluminum casement window is located to the right of the entryway and provides a counterbalance to the cross. Large vertical aluminum casement windows punctuate the north elevation.

Together, the building’s varied massing, crisp details, and parapet roof create geometrical shapes and broken planes. This massing and geometrical effect is emphasized by the clean lines and contrasting trim of the roof parapets, stone trim, and the textured cladding. This is an excellent, intact example of Modern architecture in the Dunlap neighborhood and remains a significant architectural resource in the neighborhood.

Detail for 8445 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 2123700014 / Inv # 0

Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Brick, Stone - Ashlar/cut, Stucco Foundation(s): Concrete - Poured
Roof Type(s): Flat with Parapet Roof Material(s): Unknown
Building Type: Religion - Religious facility Plan: Irregular
Structural System: Unknown No. of Stories: two
Unit Theme(s): Architecture/Landscape Architecture
Changes to Plan: Unknown
Changes to Original Cladding: Intact
Changes to Windows: Intact
Changes to Interior: Unknown
Other: Intact
Major Bibliographic References
Shaping Seattle Architecture: A Historical Guide to the Architects. Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Dorpat, Paul, “101 The Railroad Avenue Elevated,” Seattle, Now and Then, Seattle: Tartu Publications, 1984.
Bagley, Clarence B. History of Seattle, Washington. Chicago: S.J. Clarke, 1916.
Berner, Richard. Seattle 1921-1940: From Boom to Bust. Seattle: Charles Press, 1992.

Photo collection for 8445 RAINIER AVE / Parcel ID 2123700014 / Inv # 0

Photo taken Jan 20, 2010

Photo taken Jan 20, 2010

Photo taken Jan 20, 2010

Photo taken Jan 20, 2010

Photo taken Jan 20, 2010

Photo taken Jan 20, 2010
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