St. Luke's Episcopal Church


St. Luke's Episcopal Church was originally built as a meeting house for all the residents of Cannelton, and the first building used for public worship. A wooden structure, it was built by the American Cannel Coal Company in 1845. It was first deeded on October 1, 1849 to James Boyd, Stephen Fairbanks, and N. L. Forthingham and subsequently to the Episcopal Diocese of Indiana. The deed in effect on into the 20th century included two lots and extended from Third Street to Fourth Street. Lot 130 "...shall forever be used for the site of a church..." and Lot 149 "...shall forever be used as a site for the dwelling and other buildings for the minister..." Over the years it has served the Unitarians, Methodists, Roman Catholics as well as the Episcopalians. A Prayer Book service on the 7th Sunday of Trinity, August 3, 1851, by the Right Reverend Benjamin B. Smith, Episcopal Bishop of Kentucky, is the oldest worship for which there is a record. Also, in 1861, the church opened and operated St. Luke's Academy for boys in Rome.

The original post and beam frame-work building, over the years, has had a bell tower added to the front and two rooms and sanctuary added to the rear, forming a T-shaped church. The two rooms were, and are, a sacristy and kitchen-dining area. The flat board mahogany pews are original and simple in style.

The bell located at the top of the belfry was manufactured by the Kaye Bell Foundry of Louisville and installed in the tower about 1865. The bell came from the riverboat, Major Balbour, which sank in the Ohio River, near Cannelton, on February 3, 1848.

The three panels of stained glass windows behind the alter were made in England, circa 1800. They are held in place by handmade square nails. The artwork is quite primitive and very Anglican. It depicts a Baptismal Font, Cross, the Lamb of God, a chalice and bread, a descending dove and Scripture. In certain light some of the yellow glass turns blue. This beautiful work of art was restored in 1983 when the church was renovated with an Eli Lilly Trust Fund grant, administered by Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis.

A number of memorials are in and about the church such as the brass candlesticks on the altar given in 1899 and the vases in 1895.

In the display case at the rear of the church are several interesting artifacts such as an early record book with the first entry being a Baptism recorded in 1859. This 19th Century document has Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, Communicants, Family lists, and Burials through the turn of the century. A composition book with a record of services from 1894 - 96, along with an Altar Book published in 1893 and a chalice and paten set given in 1895 are contained in the case. On the wall is a photograph of the first resident priest, the Rev. Willam L. Githens, who served St. Luke's from 1860 - 1866.

St. Luke's was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, and stands today as the oldest public building in Cannelton.