St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral to hosts ceremonial groundbreaking for major construction project

Posted May 11, 2017

[St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral] Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, the iconic building situated on a prominent bluff high above I-5, is Seattle’s most visible symbol of faith. In mid-April 2017, Saint Mark’s began a major construction project to clad the exterior walls of the cathedral in limestone and replace all of the windows with new energy-efficient models, designed to match the old windows in style and color.

Saint Mark’s is working with Olson Kundig Architects on design and Turner Construction Co. for the construction. Spectrum Development Solutions is handling project management.

Saint Mark’s will host a brief ceremonial groundbreaking May 13 at 12 p.m., on the front porch of the cathedral. This event is part of “Cathedral Day”—a diocesan-wide celebration at Saint Mark’s. Participants will include: The Very Rev. Steven L. Thomason, dean and rector of Saint Mark’s; the Rt. Rev. Gregory Rickel, Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia; Saint Mark’s Capital Campaign Co-Chairs John and Carol Hoerster; Saint Mark’s vestry wardens; the chair of the Cathedral Foundation; and representatives from Olson/Kundig Architects, Turner Construction, and Spectrum Development.

This phase of construction, which is scheduled to run from mid-April through mid-December 2017, is designed to secure the cathedral’s structural integrity and to improve accessibility. In addition to sealing and cladding the exterior of the building in stone and replacing the windows with new insulated glass, the project also includes repairing the roof, creating a more inviting east façade and entry, and installing an elevator to make the building more accessible to all.

Construction of this “beacon on the hill” began in 1928, but was halted after the stock market crash of 1929, and never fully completed. The enormous concrete walls were never meant to be exposed to the elements, and the cheap depression-era glass windows were not meant to be permanent. In 2012, chunks of concrete began to break away from the exterior walls, posing a safety risk, and it became urgent for Saint Mark’s Cathedral to address the deteriorating state of the walls and windows.

Saint Mark’s began a capital campaign for this project in fall 2014, and has raised over $8.2 million to date for this $10 million project. Major donors include the Cathedral Foundation of the Diocese of Olympia, and The Norcliffe Foundation, as well as many generous individuals. The cathedral still seeks donations of all sizes.

For more information about the project, visit, or contact Liz Bartenstein, communications director,, 206-323-0300 ext. 219.