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Saturday, September 1, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Queen Anne church rescued

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist building atop Queen Anne Hill has been sold to the Seattle Church of Christ, which intends to preserve the structure and hold worship services there.

Friday's closing of the nearly $1.6 million deal ends months of uncertainty about the fate of the 1926 structure. A developer had planned to construct four homes on the site if the congregation couldn't find a buyer for the sanctuary and office wing.

The city issued Seventh Church of Christ, Scientist a demolition permit in February, and after an emotional appeal by neighbors, the city's hearing examiner sent the demolition proposal back to the planning and development department in May for a fresh review.

Also, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation put the Queen Anne church on this year's "Most Endangered Historic Properties" list, and the Queen Anne Historical Society worked to find a buyer who would preserve the sanctuary's Neo-Byzantine style. The building was designed by Seattle architect Harlan Thomas.

"It's a win-win-win for all of us," said Jay Kelly, minister of Seattle Church of Christ, which has about 270 members and has been using various rental spaces for the past few years. He said he was interested in the property a couple of years ago but couldn't make a competitive offer.

Dave Weaver, the real-estate agent for the Seventh Church, said the congregation reluctantly sold the property to TM New Homes in the summer of 2006 after failing to close any deals with other churches. But that deal was contingent on Seventh Church receiving a demolition permit from the city, and developer David Fletcher had said he would step aside if a buyer stepped forward to preserve the sanctuary.

By the time news of Seventh Church's possible demolition made headlines this spring, Seattle Church of Christ had raised enough to purchase the property. Consultants Kelly hired assured him that the building was structurally safe, he said.

Chris Moore, field director for the Washington Trust, praised Seventh Church's patience. "They stuck to their word that preservation was their No. 1 option," he said.

Seattle Church of Christ plans to hold an open house at the Queen Anne property at 10 a.m. Oct. 14, Kelly said.

For Weaver, Friday's closing was momentous personally as well. Seventh Church was the first property he listed when he became a real-estate agent nearly 20 years ago. The congregation took it off the market after no prospects materialized.

The property was also his last listing. He retired Friday.

Said Weaver: "I'm not fast, but I'm persistent."

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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