By George Geib

On Palm Sunday 1892, St. Luke's Episcopal Church first worship building was dedicated . On Palm Sunday 2000, at 11:00 a.m., The Right Reverend Robert Shahan, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, will dedicate the new St. Luke's, the culmination of a dream which started many years ago.  As early as 1910, vestry minutes record a "suggestion by the Rector to put $3.00 from the Easter collection into a church building fund."


As the community of Prescott, and later Prescott Valley and Chino Valley grew, it became clear to vestry and church members that the church needed more space and a more central location to better minister to the Tri-City area.  Minutes through the years mention numerous discussions of a new building.  Committees finally began a serious study of the feasibility of a larger church over eight years ago, and the groundbreaking took place in February 1999. 

The original St. Luke's became a reality when a 50' x 150' lot was purchased on the corner of Marina and Union Streets for $750 from Mrs. Frances Bashford, and a contract was authorized with F.S. Parker to build the church for $3,511.59, and specified a "wooden constructed building 28' x 48' with stone foundation and a vestibule, but no belfry".  Plans had been drawn up "back East".  The Church Building Fund Society loaned $1,000 as a mortgage.  The building had gas lights and the oak pews were purchased with a specified Easter offering in 1892.  Some years later, when the lights were switched to electricity and the monthly bill ran to $5.00, the Vestry threatened the electric company that if the bill was not lowered, the church would go back to using gas.  The interior walls of the church and ceiling are mahogany and have often been compared to the look of an upside down ark.  According to Kathryn Herrick in "A Brief History of St. Luke's Episcopal Church", written during the church's100th birthday celebration in 1992, the stained glass windows are all commemorative of people "both great and small".  The Church Register of the Church of the Advent, as St. Luke's was first called, records the first baptism in the new building to have been given to Ella Allen, and the first marriage was performed on August 1, 1892 by Bishop J. Mills Kendrick and Rector Edward Meany uniting Frank M. Murphy and Ethel May Meany, daughter of Father Meany.  The building, located at 114 South Marina, has had the distinction of being the oldest continuously occupied church building in Prescott. 

In 1917, a Parish House was built adjacent to the original structure under a contract with J.H. Williams for $6,994.75.  Construction called for "ruffed brick".  Additions and improvements were made to this building several times in later years.  During World War II, the Parish House was used as a recreation hall for soldiers at Fort Whipple. 

An oft told story is that in 1927, the "ladies of St. Mary's Guild" offered to pay for stain to lighten the church pews provided the men of the church would do the sanding and the staining.  Twenty five years later the "ladies of St. Mary's Guild" got the men of the church to remove the stain and restore the pews to their natural oak color. 

In 1938, the vestry voted to transfer the building fund to a savings bank.  Minutes show that the account had a balance of $6.97 at that time.  It seems that throughout the years, funds were constantly "borrowed" from the building fund to cover every day expenses.  The records do not show that these funds were ever returned to the building account, although in 1940 the treasurer was authorized to "transfer the $10.00 surplus from the treasury to the Building Fund." 

Enlargement of the church and the addition of a bell tower were the business of the vestry in 1952, and Harlan A. Jost agreed to do the work on a cost-plus basis.  Construction costs totaled $22,000.  The Rev. David C. Trimble, then Rector, wrote a "short history" (27 pages) of St. Luke's in 1960 in which he says, "On Christmas Eve 1952, the congregation worshiped in the newly remodeled edifice, complete with bell tower and bell".  Trimble referred to the bell which had been for many years at Washington School, and which was purchased with funds given for that purpose.  This same bell, cast in 1876 by the Henry McShane Foundry Company in Baltimore, Maryland, has been moved to the new St. Luke's and will ring out on Palm Sunday, April 16, 2000. 

Sale of the old St. Luke's property to the First Baptist Church has been finalized and they will use it as an adjunct to their church buildings now located in the block to the South.  Local residents are pleased that the "little old church on Marina Street can remain near and dear to the hearts of the people in the community." 

The new St. Luke's has been erected at 2000 Shepherd's Lane at the corner of Highway 89 and Ruger Road on ten acres which were the generous gift to the church by one of it's long time members.  Architect for the facility was Lewis Lyman, a member of the congregation, and the contractor was McMillan Construction Co.  The building contains 21,738 square feet. T he Nave will seat 400, with room for expansion when needed.  The Chapel approximates the design and size of the old church, while classroom and playground space for youth is over four times the previous size.  The Rev. Paul L. Crowell, Rector, echoes the enthusiasm of the congregation when he describes the new building.  "The Parish Hall will adequately and comfortably handle any fellowship or social occasion, and its doors open to a beautiful and sizeable outdoor courtyard.  A dream was to include a Columbarium in our new facility.  Thanks to a generous gift of a congregant, we now have a Memorial Garden and Columbarium.  This provides the facilities for us to offer the ministry of burying our loved ones not only from the Church, but also in the Church."  He continues by extending "an invitation to the Tri-City community to join us for services so that we may share the excitement of our new house of worship." 

George Geib is a member of the church and a volunteer at the Sharlot Hall Museum. Submissions for Days Past can be sent to the Sharlot Hall Museum).

 Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (buc1006pc). Reuse only by permission.
This circa 1900 photo shows the first home of St. Luke's Church at the corner of Union and Marina which was first known as the Church Register of the Church of the Advent.  St. Luke's is moving from this building, which it has occupied since 1892.