Russian Bishop's House
501 Lincoln Street , Sitka, AK, USA
www.nps.gov/sitk/historycult… - (907) 747-0110
Russian Bishop's House Sitka Reviews
Let's not go rushing through this house! Jun 24, 2012
Built from spruce logs in the early 1840’s, the Russian Bishop’s House would serve as headquarters for the Russian Orthodox Church in the America’s until these lands were sold in 1867. The tsar had made it clear that converting natives was an important objective for the Russian American Company, charged with colonial operations here. But as if the diocese wasn’t expansive enough already (beyond Alaska, the bishop’s turf included Russian settlements in Hawaii and California), a chunk of Kamchatka back in the homeland was also administered from Sitka (known as New Archangel back in the day).
The church made an excellent choice by dispatching Bishop Innocent to America, for this learned man with frontier experience would focus upon education and spread many good works. Later he would be made a saint.
Bishop Innocent oversaw construction of the original structure, with an elaborate reception room on the second floor, accompanied by the bishop’s private quarters and an ornate chapel. The first floor housed a seminary for training native clergy, church offices and a school for native children. A fine example of Russian wood architecture, the structure relied upon previous experience in colder climates and was specifically designed to minimize heat loss.
The house slowly deteriorated over the years and was shuttered in 1969, but recent drives have resuscitated the Russian Bishop’s House and it is currently managed by the National Park Service. We received an informative tour, with the highlights being the lavish adornments in the chapel and reception room. Best part is the tour is free, so everyone is encouraged to learn of the Russian legacy by dropping in on this interesting piece of the past.
Part of the Alaska At Last travel blog
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