Our History – Abbey Arts Presents, Seattle (Fremont Abbey Arts Center)

    Upper Fremont at 43rd
    On the #5 bus line and short walk to E line

    4272 Fremont Ave North
    Seattle, WA 98103

  • Contact Us

  • donate




  • Thanks to Tableau Software

    Thanks for supporting the Arts!
  • Bar Sponsors

    Thanks to Two Beers, Seattle Cider, Georgetown, Wilridge Winery, Sound Spirits, Ninkasi, Proletariat for their amazing support.
  • 4culture

    Thanks for supporting the Arts!



    Our History  |  FAQ


    Built as St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.


    Remodeled and expanded adding more offices and changing bell tower roof style. Moved pipe organ to back of building and brought in more pipes from a movie theatre in Chehalis (organ was built in 1924 but is no longer functional)

    1990 or so?

    Built ADA ramp on front of building and changed entrance.


    The dwindling St. Paul’s Congregation retires from the building and merges with St. John’s United on Phinney Ridge. The Compass Center uses building as temporary mens homeless shelter while their new building is being built downtown.


    Compass Center moves into their new home downtown.  Church of the Apostles (a young progressive Lutheran/Episcopal church) purchases the building with a loan from the ELCA and moves in from across the street where they had operated the Living Room Tea House (Arts/Music Venue) for about 2 years.

    Church of the Apostles (COTA) desired that the building be used by the community in many creative ways.  As part of that vision, founding pastor Karen Ward established the “Artwerks” arts nonprofit 501c3 as a separate organization in the early years. In 2005, Nathan Marion began to help with the building and started hosting The Round there (#6 in November, 2005).  The Round had started informally at The Living Room (#1 was June 2005) and other community spaces around town including Golden Gardens bathhouse and the Q Cafe.

    Volunteers from the church & the neighborhood also began to take part in slowly fixing up the building to be functional (albeit funky) for arts events, including The Round and the occasional concert or benefit event. See FAQ for more about this unique model of sharing an old building.


    In 2006, Nathan Marion was established as Fremont Abbey Arts Center’s first Executive Director.  At that time he volunteered time to develop the art center’s board and increase it’s community involvement while slowly fixing up the building itself.  The Abbey is curated by “Artwerks DBA Fremont Abbey Arts Center”, an independent, non-religious, nonprofit 501c3 organization focused on community level arts education experiences for all ages.  COTA owns the building through the Lutheran denomination.  2006 was a year of development and slowly fixing up the building as well as hosting community meetings and figuring out what the areas of need were.

    2007, Jan

    Fremont Abbey Arts Center received a $14,900 startup grant from the City of Seattle’s Dept of Neighborhoods. Test programs began, events are implemented, and a large community survey was performed to asses the needs of Fremont & North Seattle.

    2007, Oct

    Renovations begin to improve building for community uses.  PHOTO ALBUM
    Upgrades include:

    • Leveling floor in Great Hall
    • Seismic upgrade
    • Efficient Heating
    • Insulation
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
    • ADA Accessible bathrooms
    • Improved lighting throughout
    • Removing asbestos tile floors
    • Removing lead paint
    • New walls & paint throughout main assembly areas
    • Much more

    The project was managed by Nathan Marion with oversight by the COTA “Strikeforce” building committee and funded by the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA (with a loan to COTA).

    Many community members and volunteers also supported the renovation project and many of the contractors involved donated much of their time and resources. More than $50,000 was saved or donated through the process and approximately 1000 volunteer hours given.

    We also worked with the Re:Store to take out many of the old materials from the building and repurpose them around the state. In turn, we used our Re:Store credit to pickup many materials including old doors, furniture, fixtures, etc.

    2007, Oct-Dec
    The Round is held at Nectar Lounge (one show even included Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes!) and Shafer-Baillie Mansion during construction.

    2008, March

    Grand Reopening party launches the new look of Fremont Abbey!  Offering more educational arts experiences, classes, workshops, music lessons, concerts, theatre, dance classes, and much more in a freshly updated and safer building.

    2010, May
    Celebrates The Round‘s 5th Birthday – www.TheRound.org – 60 months in a row, mostly held in the Arts Center
    2010, November 17
    Celebrate the Abbey’s 5th Birthday! Five Great Years as your community Arts Center.