The Sitka Lutheran Church held the first Protestant congregation in Alaska and is also the oldest Protestant Alaskan church, at 170 years old. While it is still an active church, it also is open to the public for tours with trained volunteers Monday thru Saturday.
The congregation was founded 1839-40 under the leadership of RAC Governor Arvid Adolf Etholèn, a Finnish Lutheran. Over the course of the years, the building went through quite a few changes: by 1888 it had fallen into disrepair and was torn down and finally rebuilt many years later. The new building was totally destroyed by fire in 1966 (along with Saint Michael’s Cathedral). It was rebuilt the following year. Then in 1993, it burned again, and required extensive remodeling.
Somehow a lot of the original artifacts from the church survived through all the turmoil. These include the 1844 Kessler pipe organ (which was manufactured in Estonia and shipped overseas), a chandelier, pulpit, and communion rail.
From 1997 to 1999 the church received and dedicated some new additions: stained glass windows made by Seattle artist Dick Weitz, an altar made from pew wood salvaged from the 1993 fire, and sanctuary crosses.
Another important historical part of the church is the cemetery. Buried within are Edvard Etholen, infant son of Governor Adolf Etholen and his wife, Margareta; Aglaida Bushman, Princess Maksoutoff, a Lutheran, first wife of the last Governor of Russian Alaska; and Governor Johan Hampus Furuhjelm’s sister, Constance.
Guided tours by trained volunteers and literature about the church.
SUMMER HOURS AND FEES
Open Mon. - Sat.
Phone: (907) 747-3338