St. John’s in downtown Kirkland marks its Golden Anniversary

Celebrates by Dedicating Marsh Hall

St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Kirkland celebrated its 50th anniversary as a parish within the Archdiocese of Olympia on May 23.  In celebration of this event, the church formally named its Great Hall the “Katherine Marsh Hall.”  Mrs. Marsh, one of the original founders of St. John's, was the wife of Louis Marsh, one of the first three engineers at Boeing. His engineering skills were credited with helping Boeing make the transition from wood and fabric based planes in the early days to aluminum. The Marsh’s made their home in Kirkland, at what is now known as the Marsh Mansion on Lake Washington Blvd. This is up the hill from a stretch of beachfront property the Marsh’s donated to Kirkland, now known as Marsh Park.

In honor of the anniversary, there was a large gathering of parishioners and guests, including eight members of the fifteen original members of the church’s vestry in 1960.  Father Hayman the vicar of St. John's in 1960, was present  at the celebration and recalled Katherine Marsh by saying, “She died at the altar rail of St. John’s and her generous bequest to St. John’s was the ‘nucleus’ of what … allowed the Church to become a parish.”

According to the current rector, Father Scot Wright, “It is fitting that we remember her on this day by naming the gathering place used by the church and the community in her honor.” This facility is used by the church for celebrations and events, but also for open functions that draw many people from the nearby community for music performances and lectures.

According to Anne Payne, parish historian, St. John’s first became a “mission church” in 1923.  The mission church acquired the property at its current location on State Street near downtown Kirkland. In the early days, St. John’s grew as the town of Kirkland grew.

Technically, this was the second time that a building on this site has been dedicated as Marsh Hall. The original building where St. John's met as a Mission church nearly burned to the ground in 1953. Katherine Marsh and her husband donated funds to build the office, nursery, and pre-school building.  This served the mission church and then the parish for many years. However, in May 2000 an accidental fire destroyed all of the original Marsh Hall and also damaged the church.  St. John’s rebuilt a two story structure to accommodate the many activities and ministries of the church, including St. John's Preschool, which serves many children in the Kirkland area.

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