“The Old Church” on Crescent Valley has a new owner

Posted on May 30th, 2023 By:

“The Old Church” on Crescent Valley Drive has sold.

The property, with a history dating back to 1908, went on the market in early fall for a listing price of $175,000. The quaint, 1,250-square-foot building on a 4,000-square-foot lot garnered lots of interest but no takers. Until now.

It sold for $160,000. The sale closed on May 24. The buyer is listed as Lisa Q. Lawton, a realtor from South Carolina doing business as LQ Lawton LLC. She was not immediately available for comment.

The seller is Diane S. Davis, an artist who used the church as a studio since she bought it in 1995.

The former First Norwegian Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor (also called First Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor) is for sale. Built in 1908, the church was occupied by two congregations. Since 1953, it’s been used by three separate owners as an artist’s studio. The listing price is $175,000. Christina T Henry

“I will miss Gig Harbor. I will miss the sweetness of my church,” Davis said.

Despite its charm, the property’s lack of sewer and septic presented challenges to any new owner. Davis, through her realtor, was looking for a buyer who would take it as is.

Church history

The church was originally owned by Crescent Valley Church of the Nazarene. That congregation sold it in 1926 to First Norwegian Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor. For three decades as First Norwegian, it was the spiritual and social gathering place of Crescent Valley’s Scandinavian farming community, site of lutefisk suppers and smorgasbord buffets.

Those events were among many fundraising efforts of the First Lutheran Ladies Aid of Gig Harbor, whose work provided money for operations and upkeep of the church. A Sunday school wing was added in 1935.

The great room in the formerd First Norwegian Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor (also called First Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor) still has the pulpit and an organ from its days as a place of worship. Christina T Henry

Utility challenges

The church, as it stands, could not be built under current codes. It had an outhouse but no septic system or running water. Water is available, according to the Pierce County Assessor, but not connected.

The assessed value of the property is $140,700.

A potential option to add septic would be an easement, using land of an adjacent property owner with their legal permission. But that would create a legal encumbrance on both properties. The church is outside the city of Gig Harbor’s urban growth area, and the city has no plans to extend a sewer line that far north.

An artist’s haven

Following World War II, a merger of small Lutheran congregations led to the sale of the church property. First Lutheran sold it in 1953 to brothers Byron and Calvin Knapp for $1,500. Byron used it as a studio to give art lessons. So began the church’s new life as an artist’s haven.

Byron died in 1983, and the church was sold in 1985 to a couple, Jeanne Willis-Long and George W. Long, who were both artists.

Davis acquired the church in 1995. Many people have contacted her over the years to tell her about their connections to “The Old Church,” the baptisms, weddings and Sunday school lessons.

Now, the church is ready for its next chapter, whatever that may be.

The former Sunday school room of the property that was the First Norwegian Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor (also called First Lutheran Church of Gig Harbor) has been transformed into an artist’s studio. The current owner and two previous owners have used the building as an art studio. The property is for sale; its listing price is $175,000 Michael Esteb, Windermere Gig Harbor