A building rich with history
Juneau's gold rush in the 1880s initiated efforts by various missionaries to convert the Native peoples to their faith. American missionaries were instructed to suppress the use of native languages and as a result, many Tlingits chose to embrace the Orthodox Church which used native languages in worship. St. Innocent Veniaminov, was the first to translate the Christian Scripture into that language and taught Native Alaskans to read and write in their own language. Juneau Tlingit leaders, were eager to develop a parish and in July of 1892, Bishop Nikolai visited Juneau and baptized nearly 700 of 1,500 natives in the town.By 1893 community raised enough money to buy two lots in town and construction was started in July of that year. The church was finished in November of 1893 and Bishop Nikolai consecrated the church in June of 1894.
Architecturally, the building is beautiful example of the Russian American architecture and the unique octagon plan of St Nicholas is known to be the last of the Orthodox churches of this shape. The interior space is beautifully adorned with a seven-bay iconostas. In its first decade, St Nicholas Church was served by Father John Bartnovsky, and Father Alexander Yaroshevich, both Russian clergy who were familiar with the Tlingit language.
(Quote) "The robes were decorated with gold and bright carnation cloth of a dazzling brightness, while his miter was studded with brilliants." Alaska Mining Record reporting on Bishop Nicholas' vestment at the church's dedication June 28, 1894