IPC History


Immanuel Presbyterian was organized as a mission in Old Town in 1888 and was then called the Second Presbyterian Church. Services were held in the old Lowell Elementary School. In 1889 the church negotiated a loan and bought the lots at North 9th and J Streets.

The congregation worshipped in a tent on the property. In 1890, the congregation hired an architect to design a wooden church. It was built and dedicated in 1891 and was renamed Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

Sometime in the early 1900s the congregation decided to build a larger church on the same site and engaged Ambrose J. Russell, a prominent architect in Tacoma, to do the design work.  The main entrance leading to the narthex is a ramp, chosen to accommodate the sloping lot. It was not even considered in those days, but this church, since 1909, has been handicapped accessible.

In a quotation from a 1909 issue of the The Tacoma Daily Ledger, "the main auditorium is architecturally the most beautiful in Tacoma."

Russell chose to design this new church in the California Mission style, and it was completed and dedicated in April of 1909. Its design is unique because the bell tower is at the rear of the structure. The rear was chosen because of the hillside lot.


The stained glass windows along each side of the sanctuary and throughout the building are part of the original structure and were dedicated to early members and friends of the congregation. They all have stories of unusual human interest. It is not known who created these windows. Their beauty, warmth and glowing colors add to the peace and sacredness of the sanctuary. The cost of this church in 1909 was $20,500.



In the 1950s, the chancel and choir loft areas were remodeled and a beautiful stained glass window of cerulean blue was installed. It was given in memory of Clara Olmsted Beers, 1872-1947. It was designed and made by the D'Ascenso Studios of Philadelphia. Its symbolism and radiating colors add greatly to the interior design.


We are the only California Mission style church in the area and we are one of the oldest incorporated entities in the State of Washington. We believe it is important to keep this distinctive spiritual corner in Tacoma beautiful and welcoming. The high quality of care that is given to our green space gives us a unique look here in the North End of Tacoma.

Through the years there have been many modifications to the sanctuary. Fortunately, none of them have disturbed the original design of the sanctuary.
These notes are a compilation of the many histories taken over the past 120 years.