A Brief History
Just as the Episcopal church is closely interwoven with the history of Alaska, so Holy Trinity has been a part of Juneau and Southeast Alaska. The story of Holy Trinity is, in great measure, the story of the remarkable people dedicated to sharing Christ's love in the world.
The Rev. George Buzzelle held the first Episcopal services in Juneau in the Presbyterian log church on Trinity Sunday, June 9, 1895. A few months later, the Rev. Dr. R. D. Nevius, a missionary from the Diocese of Olympia, came to open and take charge of a mission church. In October, 1895, the mission church was known as Trinity church.
Peter Trimble Rowe, the first Bishop of Alaska, arrived in Juneau in March 1896. He was soon to travel north for extensive visits to the congregations elsewhere in Alaska, leaving behind plans for a church, and his colleague, the Rev. Henry Beer, to supervise the building's construction and serve as Holy Trinity's first Rector.
Dr. A. J. Campbell, a medical missionary and friend of Bishop Rowe, established St. Luke's Mission in the mining town of Douglas, across Gastineau Channel. St. Luke's served the people of Douglas Island until the construction of the bridge to Juneau in 1935. Not long thereafter, the two congregations were united at Holy Trinity.
In 1902, the stained glass windows and an organ were installed, and on Trinity Sunday, 1903, Holy Trinity was consecrated by Bishop Rowe.
The years 1910 to 1915 were the peak years of mining activity in Juneau. During this time, Holy Trinity and its people provided spiritual sustenance and support among the people of Juneau. In 1910, Mrs. Frances C. Davis, a well known Alaskan artist, painted and donated scenes of Jesus' life. In 1916, she painted the apostles on the front of the kneelers of the first pew.
In 1918, Holy Trinity was designated a pro-cathedral, as it was necessary for Bishop Rowe to move his offices to Seattle for a time. Charles Rice served as Dean of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity for 22 years.
Bishop Rowe, who had been a distinguished pioneer for the Church in Alaska, died in 1944. Among other memorials to Bishop Rowe was the Denali Window, in the narthex of Holy Trinity, which was executed and donated by Jesse Van Brunt of New York.
In 1944, a resident Bishop of Alaska was installed at Fairbanks, thus the cathedral designation for Holy Trinity was discontinued.
In 1955-56, Trinity Hall and its lower level classrooms were built. After the unexpected death of the Rev. Samuel McPhetres in 1959, the parish hall was renamed in his honor.
In 1984, among the questions that had arisen were those concerning the need to better serve the people of the Mendenhall Valley and Auke Bay areas. Thus, the parish was especially blessed to have the Rt. Rev. George Masuda, retired Bishop of North Dakota, come to Juneau as Interim Rector of Holy Trinity, with regular services held at a valley location. In 1985, the valley congregation became a mission with the rector of Holy Trinity serving as its priest. The mission is now the parish of St. Brendan's
On March 12, 2006, a fire destroyed both the Holy Trinity building and the home next door. Only a few items of church history were saved. The Francis Davis paintings had been removed for restoration. Some of the early records stored in the church's safe were damaged by water and have been or are in the process of being restored.
For three years, the church met in the parish hall of the neighboring Roman Catholic Cathedral and embarked on rebuilding the physical structure. On August 4, 2007, the parish broke ground for a new church building. By the end of 2009 the sanctuary was nearly completed. A temporary occupancy permit allowed for the first services to be held in our new building on December 20, 2009, quickly followed by free performances of "Shepherds, Wise Men and Angels," a Christmas pageant told with puppets by our theater-in-residence, Theater in the Rough, in thanks to the community of Juneau for their gifts and support during our hard times. In 2010, the beautifully restored Davis paintings were placed in new yellow cedar frames in the sanctuary.
You are welcome to join us in our new building for worship, study, fellowship, prayer and outreach.
415 Fourth Street, Juneau, Alaska 99801
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Phone: (907) 586-3532