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Summary for 5145 S MORGAN ST S / Parcel ID 1102000110 / Inv # 0

Historic Name: Common Name: Congregation Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath
Style: Modern Neighborhood: Seward Park
Built By: Year Built: 1972

Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath’s synagogue is significant due to its association with the Jewish community in South Seattle. It also reflects the historical movement of Jews to Seward Park during the 1950s and 1960s.

This cultural property is located in Seward Park towards the southern end of South Seattle. It is a large Ashkenazic Orthodox synagogue, which was constructed in 1972 by the Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath (BCMH) congregation. Prior to its construction, the location contained residential buildings.

The early founding of BCMH began when the Bkiur Cholim congregation was formed in the early part of the twentieth century by Turkish Sephardic Jews. Bkiur Cholim was initially located in what is now known as the Central District, where many Jewish immigrants lived. However, during the early 1950s, as many African American families moved into the Central District; and, as Jews increased in prosperity, Jewish families began moving out of the Central District to Seward Park, the Eastside, and north Seattle. This trend began in the 1950s with move of a number of Orthodox families. During the late 1950s and 1960s, several congregations also relocated, including the Ezra Bessaroth congregation and Sephardic Bikur Holim. Bikur Cholim followed this trend and moved into the Seward Park neighborhood in the 1960s. It merged with the Machzikay Hadath congregation in 1971; and, by 1972 BCMH occupied the newly constructed synagogue at its present location.

The synagogue reflects the general movement of Jewish families away from the Central District during the 1950s.  The BCMH congregation is actively engaged with the Jewish community in Seward Park and Capitol Hill by focusing on youth programming, as well as sponsoring cultural and social events.


The 88,416 square foot lot for this synagogue is located between South Morgan and South Holly Streets. It was platted for the Brighton Beach Tracts and faces north onto South Morgan Street. Constructed in 1972, the modernist building exhibits influences from both the Brutalist and International Style architectural movements. The building’s poured concrete foundation and irregular floor plan support a flat parapet roof. The general form of the building is divided into two two-story buildings that abut each other. The north building uses design elements common in International Style commercial buildings in order to create a volumetric space. Its entire facade and front doors are pierced by evenly spaced, vertical ribbon windows that create a “curtain wall” effect. Architectural features rather than applied decoration are used in the building’s design, including a concrete belt course and the entryway that is subtly accented by a wooden surround and recessed doors. The only applied decoration is the restrained lettering above the entryway and the menorah on the roof. The north building’s curtain wall creates a volumetric space, which is balanced by the Brutalist massing of the south building. The cantilevered second story and expansive panels of stuccoed veneer lack windows, which would otherwise uninterrupted the planarity of the walls. The result is a heavy, rough, geometric, blocky mass that contrasts with the volumetric form of the north building. While the Brutalist and International Style movements had opposing theoretical philosophies, their stylistic elements are used in this structure to complement and accentuate each other. The unusual design of this synagogue demonstrates two important and seemingly opposing architectural movements during the 1960s and 1970s and is, therefore, a significant architectural feature in the Seward Park neighborhood.

Detail for 5145 S MORGAN ST S / Parcel ID 1102000110 / Inv # 0

Classication: Building District Status:
Cladding(s): Stucco, Wood 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 5145 S MORGAN ST S / Parcel ID 1102000110 / 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
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