Step back in time: Interior of the Seattle Naval Chapel at Fircrest is virtually untouched from the day it was built

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Seattle Naval Hospital Chapel at Fircrest
Story and photos 
by Janet Way

Captain J.T Boone (MC) USN was a highly decorated veteran of WW I, and took up the command of the Seattle Naval Hospital (which eventually became Fircrest School in Shoreline.)

It was 1943 and WWII was still raging when the Captain decided that what was needed at the Hospital Base to offer solace and inspiration to the patients, families and staff was a beautiful chapel.

Custom woodwork, original chandeliers,
round stained glass window
So, Captain Boone set out to build one. It turned out to be the very first Naval Hospital Chapel on American soil.

He specifically wanted it to be built up on a hill, set apart in a peaceful grove of pine, cedar, fir and hemlock.

He wanted the chapel to be a non-denominational “church of all creeds” that could provide solace to these wounded soldiers and their caregivers.

Stained glass window, organ pipes,
baptismal font
At the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Chapel, an account by Captain Boone stated in the June 14, 1944 newsletter The Stethoscope,

“The Commanding Officer has wished that the building of a chapel would be the highlight of his administration and he feels confident that his desire will be realized by his auspicious beginning as expressed on the ground-breaking ceremonies at the chapel.”


Now Shoreline Preservation Society has taken up the challenge to protect this humble chapel nestled in the wooded grove overlooking Fircrest School.
Custom built organ

The good news is that it is in particularly good condition.

In fact, most of its beautiful and simple interior is intact, except that the flooring was replaced some years ago because of asbestos.

But all of the other custom crafted woodwork, pews, chandeliers, leaded glass windows, and even a beautiful small pipe organ are original.

And the Fircrest Chapel (officially still named the Seattle Naval Hospital Chapel) is still used regularly for Sunday services, weddings, memorials, and other ceremonies.

Beautiful woodland settings
It is still surrounded by a beautiful dell of healthy native trees and understory, just as Captain Boone wanted.

Along with the beautiful building, interior, and landscaping, as historians we were delighted to view some of the original drawings and drafting work from which it was created.

It is arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in Shoreline.

Custom-made cabinets
SPS is working with historians from NW Vernacular on a nomination process with a grant from 4Culture and expect that to be completed in the next few months.

If anyone reading this article has any knowledge about the Chapel or other historical aspects of the Naval Hospital or persons associated with it, especially from the Navy, we invite you to contact Janet Way through our Facebook Page or website.


Architect's original sketch for the chapel


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