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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Historic Lincoln Center in Spokane gets new life as a church

One of Spokane’s historic landmarks is returning to its roots as a house of worship.

True Hope Church has purchased the Lincoln Center, an events venue north of the Spokane River, for $2.57 million. The fast-growing church, which needed room to expand, will hold its first service there on Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to all sorts of opportunities for outreach to the community,” said the Rev. Ryan Oletzke, lead pastor for the church, which is part of the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God.

Spokane developer Chris Heftel opened the Lincoln Center in 2008, incorporating a historic art deco Mission-style church into the facility. Over the past decade, the center has hosted weddings, memorial services, bar mitzvahs, proms, graduations and Christmas parties.

Other events included corporate meetings, political events and election night parties.

“A lot of people have a fond personal memory of the place,” Heftel said. “It’s one of those unique buildings with a wonderful history and it’s something Spokane should be proud of. I’m glad to see it continue as an important landmark.”

The 33,000-square-foot Lincoln Center has two ballrooms, classrooms and kitchens.

The center will continue booking events through the end of the year. After that, True Hope Church will evaluate whether it wants to continue leasing space to outside groups, Oletzke said.

The 1.43-acre property in the 1300 block of North Lincoln Street has a storied past. John G. Lake, an evangelist, missionary and faith healer who moved to Spokane in the early 1900s, started the original church. Additional buildings were added to the complex by later owners.

The property was run-down when Heftel and his brothers – Richard and Terry – bought it in 2007, consolidating the buildings into a single structure.

“It was a beautiful facility that needed a lot of work,” Chris Heftel said.

The brothers saw an opportunity to create meeting space, which was in short supply in Spokane at the time.

“Wedding venues were booked years in advance,” Chris Heftel said. “Company parties competed for open dates during the holiday season. There weren’t a lot of options beyond the Davenport Hotel.”

The Lincoln Center opened just before the real estate market crash, but weathered the downturn.

A couple of years ago, the brothers signed a contract with Red Rock Catering to manage the events business at the Lincoln Center.

Richard and Terry Heftel eventually moved out of the area. Chris Heftel remains busy with two residential real estate projects in north Spokane, River Bluff Ranch and Country Hills.

“The next natural step was to divest the real estate holdings,” Heftel said. “We’re thrilled it went to a buyer with an appreciation for the history of the building.”

True Hope Church learned the Lincoln Center was for sale when the 5-year-old church was looking for space to grow. Members currently worship at Mead High School and at rented space at a South Hill church.

Church leaders wanted a central Spokane location. About 500 people attend Sunday worship services. The Lincoln Center has room to grow to about 800 to 1,000 regular worshipers, Oletzke said.

If the congregation grows beyond that, the church would start a new branch in another location, he said.

The sale of the property became final Thursday. Jeff McGougan, a broker with NAI Black, represented the Heftels in the transaction. Ryan Layton of American Real Estate Associates represented True Hope Church.

Members of the young congregation like the idea of moving into a building with decades of history as a church, Oletzke said.

“That was cool for us,” he said.