postcard is postmarked 1949 and is sent from the Christ Episcopal
Church to a church member. The postcard caption states that it is
the "Oldest Church building in Springfield. Has been in continuous
use since 1869. Materials were hauled by oxteam and wagon a distance
of 120 miles. Parish House added in 1927." The statements are true
with the possible exception of the materials being hauled by oxteam,
since the church was built after the arrival of the railroad.
The Episcopal Church came to Springfield in 1859 when a Springfield
woman named Marie Burden sent a letter to the rector of Christ Church
in St. Louis asking him to send a priest to Springfield to baptize
her daughter, Nellie. The Reverend T.L. Holcomb was sent to Springfield.
There were only three Episcopalians living in Springfield at the
time but several people had expressed interest, so Reverend Holcomb
thought it was time to start a church in Springfield. In the spring
of 1859 he returned and held services in the Old Temperance Hall
at the northeast corner of St. Louis Street
and the Public Square.
Services were suspended during the Civil War, as they were in most
churches in town. One of the church members was killed during Zagonyi's
charge on October 25, 1861. In 1866 Reverend R.S. Nash replaced
Reverend Holcomb and a new church was built on West Walnut Street
between Campbell and Market. The building, called St. Rufus, was
in the Gothic style. On Easter Sunday 1869, during the service a
lightning bolt hit the chancel (front part) of the building. It
damaged the building, causing the congregation to build a new building
in October of 1869. The Walnut Street residential area on the corner
of Kimbrough was chosen as the site for the new church.
Because the site of the new church was a residential area, the style
of building chosen was a small "Carpenter Gothic" church. This was
a stylish type of church building in the 1870s and reflected the
tastes of the mostly wealthy members of the church. The church was
built for $4,000 and each member was expected to contribute one
gold dollar weekly.
In 1921, the church rector inquired of a local architect's firm
the cost of replacing the building. In 1922 a firm was chosen to
design a stone building, but the bids were too high and the church
was not built. In 1927 the church built a parish hall. In 1927-28
the chancel of the church was built. The nave (where the congregation
sits) was to come next, but the Depression stopped the building.
By chance, the old nave was still intact and was positioned in such
a way that it could be attached to the new parts of the church.
This unusual juxtaposition of the nave from 1870 and the rest of
the church from 1929 makes for an unusual and picturesque building.
In 1987 the church was placed on the National Register of Historic
Places. In 1990 a $150,000 renovation returned the church to its