Seattle Seminary -- later Seattle Pacific University -- opens doors to 34 students on April 4, 1893.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 3/16/2003
  • Essay 5427

On April 4, 1893, Seattle Seminary opens its doors to 34 elementary school students. The Oregon and Washington Conference of the Free Methodist Church has organized the school to train and educate missionaries. It is built on five acres of land near Ross on the north side of Queen Anne Hill. The school will grow to become Seattle Pacific College and then Seattle Pacific University.

Seattle Seminary was incorporated in 1891 to prepare missionaries for service overseas. Nils B. Peterson, an early Queen Anne homesteader, donated the land for the school from his garden plot. He also served as an early trustee. Minister and banker Hiram Pease provided most of the early funding. Alexander Beers and his wife Adelaide Beers moved from Virginia to run the school.

Thirty-four students registered for the first academic term, which began on Tuesday, April 4, 1893. Alexander Beers served as the first principal and concentrated on raising funds and constructing facilities. Adelaide Beers concentrated on curricula and teaching. The first building was The Red Brick Building (later renamed Alexander Hall). An administration building was opened in 1905; it was later named Peterson Hall to honor Nils Peterson. By 1916, there were four permanent buildings.

The first programs were for elementary and intermediate students. The curriculum expanded in 1910 to college-level courses. In 1913, the school was renamed Seattle Seminary and College. In 1915, it became Seattle Pacific College, and in 1977, Seattle Pacific University.

In 2001, the SPU occupied 45 acres and served almost 3,500 students.


Donald McNichols, "The College and Queen Anne -- Seattle Pacific University," in Queen Anne: Community On The Hill (Seattle: Queen Anne Historical Society, 1993), 136-138; "Our History," Seattle Pacific University website accessed April 4, 2017(; Minutes for March 27, 1893, Seattle Seminary Board of Trustees Minutes, June 24, 1891, through June 6, 1916, Vol. I, Seattle Pacific University Archive, Seattle, Washington.
Note: This essay was corrected on April 4, 2017, to state that Seattle Seminary opened to students in 1893 (not 1891).

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