Name: St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Year Built: 1862
Location: Corner of Jefferson and Tyler Streets
Area: Uptown Port Townsend
St. Paul's is located on the bluff in the Uptown district of Port Townsend, across from the historic Bell Tower. A short distance from the bluff is the heart of Downtown. The area surrounding the church remains primarily residential, but includes several other churches and is three blocks from Lawrence Street, the hub of the small Uptown business district. St. Paul's is the oldest church in Port Townsend. The Church is generally open to visit Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
St. Paul's began as a Sunday school run by Mrs. W.H. Taylor in her home in 1850. success of the Sunday school grew until, in 1860, missionary Bishop Thomas F. Scott sent the Reverend Peter Hyland to conduct services at the Jefferson County territorial courthouse.
Beginning in 1862, Alfred Tucker and a shipwright built the "carpenter gothic" style church on donated land. During the three year construction, lay readers and visiting clergy continued conducting services in the courthouse. St. Paul's was the third Episcopal congregation in the state of Washington and the first to build its own building, which makes St. Paul's the oldest Episcopal church building in continuous use in the state.
Serving as the major port for sailing vessels entering Puget Sound, Port Townsend was grateful for Captain J.W. Selden's gift of a small bell to be rung from St. Paul's steeple during foggy weather so ships could find the harbor. This bell was the inspiration for the old hymn "The Harbor Bell". The bell fulfilled its mission as a fog bell for many years, and a bell still rings in St. Paul's steeple every Sunday.
In 1882, the congregation, finding its church in the path of an impending street regrade, placed it on rollers and moved it to the present location closer to the center of the uptown district.
When Dr. Brooks Baker arrived from Hawaii in 1890, he found a self-supporting parish in a prosperous city of 7,000 residents. But after the boom of the early 1890's, the local economy crashed. St. Paul's, no longer able to support itself as a parish, was forced to return to mission status. During the next hundred years, volunteers and priests cared for and kept the mission going. In the 1920's St. Paul's supported an active Sunday school, and between the two World Wars military personnel of the coast artillery at nearby Fort Worden and the Coast Guard took an increasingly active part in the life of the church. During the 30's and 40's, twenty people in the congregation for Sunday services was considered a large number, but with the period of financial growth after World War II, St. Paul's began to grow and regain its financial stability.
The church experienced a surge in membership during the late 1980's and early 1990's as a result of an influx of people moving to the Quimper Peninsula. In October of 1994, St. Paul's regained parish status and built a new parish hall which was completed in 1998.
See also: St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Data modified from the National Register of Historic Places, the former Victorian Festival Heritage Home Tour, property owners and other sources. All material copyrighted by PTguide.com.