Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ring Those Bells

When I have the chance, I try to get pictures of Russian Orthodox Churches because they sometimes have interesting architecture and they're so connected with Alaska's history. The church in Kodiak surprised me because it obviously wasn't as old as I'd anticipated. Turns out this building was built in the 1940s after the previous iteration burned to the ground.

This building is the 4th since the parish was established in 1794. Yes, that's right - 1794. And there's more to the story.

Off to one side of the church is a collection of broken bells and a cast plaque that tells the story. When the church burned in 1943, the only thing that remained were the broken bells.

Some of the bells had been cast in Kodiak between 1794 and 1796. Others had been added at various times.

When the church was rebuilt after WWII, there weren't enough funds to replace the bells, so for over 35 years the belfry was empty.

In 1979, members of the parish and others donated funds to buy eight new custom cast bells from France. Not just parish members but members of the community including the local newspaper -

another example of Alaskan spirit!


  1. John, somewhere on the net, a long time ago, I had read the history of the Russian Orthodox church in Alaska. I was fascinated by it then.

    I am really surprised, as you were, to see that one of them had been built (rebuilt)so recently.

    And the story of the bells is moving and a testimony to the spirit of the community.

    Another unique Alaskan historical treasure!

    1. Based on your comment about a history online, I went looking and found something from the Library of Congress. It would indicate that this church in Kodiak may have been the first outreach in Alaska. Sounds like there is even more to the story.

    2. Now that is really fascinating! I'll entertain myself later this evening doing some digging on my own!