After four years of worshiping in the Presbyterian Chapel, Episcopalians finally had their own church in 1899, with the construction of St. Peters-by-the-Sea. Complete with stained glass windows, modified flying buttresses, and wooden pews, this small chapel is open to the public 24/7. The church and the adjacent See House (1905) are both on the National Register of Historical Places, and are largely the work of Bishop Peter Trimble Rowe. Rowe, who helped organize and fundraise the construction, also built the stone wall around the church and the See House. It was one of his many endeavors, which included serving churches throughout the state, traveling by dogsled and canoe to remote communities. Although he spent little more than a decade living in Sitka, he’s buried on the site, along with his wife and two children. The church holds a “Bishop’s Tea House” at random times throughout the summer, when travelers are welcome to have tea and cookies and leaf through the archives, which include Rowe’s handwritten sermons, photos, and a record book of baptisms. The original steeple, wood pews, and a 1969 pipe organ are highlights in the chapel, which also has an unusual stained glass window that features a Star of David. The story has it that Bishop Rowe and the congregation wished to include a rose window in the construction of St. Peter's sanctuary. They placed an order back East and waited many months. When the window finally arrived, they found that instead of the Christian symbol that was ordered for the focal point, there was a six-pointed Star of David. Considering the time it took to produce and the difficulty of the window’s dimensions, though, they decided to keep it. As they say on their website: “For close to 100 years, this Star has reminded the worshippers of St. Peter's of the beginnings of our Christian faith.”

Getting There

611 Lincoln Street
Sitka, AK
Driving Directions

St. Peters-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church