Washington Seminar Center

Usage of Church Facilities by Non-Profit Organizations
and the Washington Seminar Center

Read a summary by Gene Larkin of how the Washington Seminar Center has been a witness to history.

1973 – The Session of the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church appointed a task force to address the problems of its large deteriorating building. The problems included a leaking roof, failing heating plant, falling plaster and 11 large deteriorating stained glass windows in the sanctuary. The needed repairs would exceed $100,000 and the congregation’s annual income was inadequate to maintain a ministry, repair the building, and pay the utility bills..

1975 – The Session decided to seek non-profit organizations to share facility costs and a number of non-profit organizations began using the space and paying a portion of the utilities and custodial costs. Among these organizations were the following: Frederick Law Olmstead Papers Group, College of Lewis and Clark; Capitol East Children Center; Capitol Hill Wee Care Center; Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, Folger Rehearsal Stage Group, and the Jenkins Hill Child Care Center.

1977 – The Session applied for and received a grant from Presbytery and General Assembly to establish the Washington Seminar Center in the Church basement. The space would be used to house overnight groups who came to Washington and would provide exposure to the Federal Government and experience and training working with the inner city poor. A Director for the WSC was hired to handle bookings, meet groups, supervise cleaning, oversee maintenance, and arrange programs for its users.

The directors of the Seminar Center (and their periods of service) are William Zook (1977-1980); Estalene Ferrillo (1980-1988); Rev. Carla Gorrel (1988-1989); Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton (1989-1991); Meg Mann (1991-1999); Conner O’Reagan (1999-2008); Anne Nickel (2008-2010);  Deanna Chabay (2010 to 2011); and Doris Warrell (2011-present).

Washington Seminar Center statistics from recent Annual Reports:
2007 – served 1,282 individuals in 52 groups
2008 – served 926 individuals in 42 groups
2009 – served 1,434 individuals in 67 groups
2010 – served 1,238 individuals in 58 groups

The Washington Seminar Center continues to serve the Nation and the community and contributes to the building’s utilities, maintenance, and administrative costs.