Beach Park Event Center History
History of the Auditorium Building
In 1908 Herman and Annie Draper came to Des Moines, Washington, and established a self-supporting orphanage for up to 47 children. They purchased the inland portion of Des Moines Creek valley as a playground for the children and a private picnic and tent camping park open to everyone.
In 1916 a final mill was started on Des Moines Creek Beach, but due to financial shenanigans, it was never completed. The building was converted to a dance hall by the Neal Brothers and was a very popular destination.
In 1931, the Swedish Covenant Church purchased the auditorium. It served as their Tabernacle until it burned down in December of 1954. A new multi-purpose Tabernacle was completed in the late 1950s and beautifully updated by the City of Des Moines to continue to serve the community and beyond as an Auditorium and Event Center.
Beach Park Picnic Shelter
During the Draper years, they built tent platforms, swings, cabins, a performance platform over the creek, and a picnic shelter. The Swedish Covenant Church purchased Draper Park in 1931, expanded the picnic shelter, renamed it “Auxiliary Hall,” and used it for a great many purposes over the years. It continues to be used as a picnic shelter today.
Beach Park Dining Hall
The people of the church were primarily of Swedish extraction. They built the rustic cabins, cottages, and dormitories in the early 1930s with strong Swedish design elements. The Dining Hall was built in 1933–34, and the Kaffe Stuga was added shortly after that. 20-year-old Marvel Johnson, then an Architectural student at the University of Washington, designed both. She was one of the earliest female graduates from its School of Architecture.
Beach Park Meadow
In 1986 the 20-acre park valley and 630 feet of saltwater beachfront on the Puget Sound were sold to the City of Des Moines. In 1988 Covenant Beach Historic District was placed on the Washington State Register of Historic Places. And in January of 2006, Covenant Beach Bible Camp was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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