St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jacksonville will celebrate the 175th anniversary of its founding this summer. As part of the celebration, the church this week installed a historic marker.
St. Luke’s is the oldest church building in Jacksonville, and the second oldest in Calhoun County. It is listed in the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage.
The church was based on a design by Richard Upjohn, an influential 19th-century architect famous for his Gothic Revival churches, including Trinity Church in New York City.
In 1852, Upjohn published “Upjohn’s Rural Architecture,” a book of designs for wooden churches and other rural buildings. His designs were widely used across the country.
St. Luke’s was the third Upjohn church built in Alabama, and is considered to be the most faithful to his original design.
The parish was founded on June 30, 1844. The church building was constructed from 1855-56 at a cost of $2,200, using slave labor, as the historic marker notes.
The building’s architectural style is called Carpenter Gothic, a style peculiar to rural America in which carpenters mimicked the look of imposing Gothic structures — but improvised with wood instead of stone. Hence the church’s distinctive wooden board-and-batten siding.
The stained glass windows behind the altar were made in New York. The elaborate central chandelier originally burned whale oil.
The church’s new historic marker will be dedicated Sunday, Jan. 13, between 1-1:30 p.m. in a ceremony open to the public. St. Luke’s is at 400 Chinabee Ave.