Arts & Culture

Tacoma Musical Playhouse buys Epworth LeSourd church

Parents drop off their child at new Tacoma Musical Playhouse venue The Spire (formerly Epworth LeSourd Methodist Church) for a theater camp.
Parents drop off their child at new Tacoma Musical Playhouse venue The Spire (formerly Epworth LeSourd Methodist Church) for a theater camp. Staff

Tacoma Musical Playhouse has bought the former Epworth LeSourd United Methodist Church and begun using the space as a second theater venue.

The organization bought the 89-year-old church at 710 S. Anderson St. on Aug. 5, and education classes have moved in.

On Nov. 6, the community theater will present its murder mystery dinner theater at the historic church, which TMP now calls The Spire.

Theater directors Jon Rake and Jeffrey Stvrtecky, who are in Europe, declined to comment on the deal.

Asked why TMP bought the church, marketing director Sue Snyder said, “We’ve had 200 kids in our camps this summer. We’ve been renting the church across the road (from its space at 7116 Sixth Ave.). Now we don’t have to.”

The company has brought the building before the Landmarks Preservation Commission for consideration for historic landmark status.

Built in 1926 and designed by architect George W. Bullard, the brick church has several historic features, including a gabled roof, pinnacled steeple, oak trim and stained glass windows by Portland’s Povey Brothers.

A mural on the northern exterior depicts Foss High School student Kiki McBride, who died of sudden cardiac arrest in 2005 while trying out for the basketball team.

The congregation at Epworth LeSourd, founded in 1889 but in decline for several years, dissolved in June because of its small number of members and the church’s high maintenance costs.

The building was transferred to the United Methodist Pacific Northwest Conference, and TMP bought it for $550,000. The 18,000-square-foot building is valued at $919,000, according to the Pierce County Assessor’s website.

The theater company intends to raise money to cover the purchase amount and also needs to complete some renovations, Snyder said.

In the meantime, space is so tight in TMP’s original venue on Sixth Avenue that some after-school classes have already moved into the new space.

The church contains four large classrooms, several smaller rooms, a social hall with commercial kitchen and a Gothic sanctuary that seats 250 to 300 people.

By Nov. 6 the new space will be ready for TMP’s first show: a murder mystery dinner theater, done by the company in the past in a rented space and “very successful,” Snyder said.

Other plans for the building include installing a nursery for younger patrons and siblings of participants in the education program, starting a second-stage series and holding other rehearsals.

TMP also might share the space with other arts groups.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568

rosemary.ponnekanti@thenewstribune.com

@rose_ponnekanti

IF YOU GO

Tacoma Musical Playhouse will use the former Epworth LeSourd United Methodist Church — now known as The Spire — for its murder mystery dinner theater.

What: “Murder Al Dente” (a 1920s murder mystery).

When: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6-7; 2 p.m. Nov. 8.

Where: The Spire, 710 S. Anderson St., Tacoma.

Tickets: $49.50.

Includes: Dinner. Reserved seating in tables of eight.

Information: 253-565-5857, tmp.org.

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