Our History: 1891–1919

The Founding: 1891–1892

Founded in 1891 by Free Methodist pioneers, Seattle Pacific University has grown from humble beginnings on a small piece of land in early Seattle, Washington, into one of the nation’s premier Christian universities, located in the heart of one of the world’s great cities.

The early vision of the institution was to train missionaries for overseas service. Today that vision has grown to focus on equipping 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students to engage the culture and change the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Early Years: 1893–1919

Seattle Seminary opened with two faculty members, President Alexander Beers and his wife, Adelaide. In its first academic term, the seminary registered 34 students in a college preparatory curriculum that included primary and intermediate grades. In 1905, a new administration building was added, later named Peterson Hall after founder Nils Peterson. College-level courses for freshmen entered the curriculum in 1910, and the school's name became Seattle Seminary and College in 1913. Two years later, the name was changed again to Seattle Pacific College, with five students becoming SPC's first graduating class in 1915.

From the beginning, the new college focused on building bridges into the city for serving the wider community. President Orrin E. Tiffany’s wrote that SPC should “enlarge her borders and become the center of all the deep spiritual movements of the Northwest … .” He also envisioned an aggressive program that would develop Seattle Pacific into Free Methodism’s finest college.