Restoration of historic Kenai, AK church enters final phase


A meeting of the parish council of Holy Assumption Church here with His Grace, Bishop David of Anchorage and Alaska; Grant Crosby, Senior Historical Architect for the Anchorage Regional Office of the National Park Service; and Blake DiLullo, Missionary Contractor with the Orthodox Christian Mission Center was held recently to determine the best means of completing work on restoring the historic church’s bell tower.

“Over the past few years, ROSSIA—‘Russian Orthodox Sacred Sites in Alaska’—and the National Park Service have worked diligently to restore this historic landmark to its original appearance,” said Bishop David.  “Various grants from several organizations—the largest being a Rasmuson Grant—have made much of the restoration possible.”

To date, the church has been rebuilt from the inside out with the replacement of old timbers, walls and roofing.  In addition, the adjacent Saint Juvenaly Building has been added to house the church’s mechanical and utility needs, a gift shop and handicapped accessible facilities.

“The refitting of the bell tower and the placement of the mist fire suppression system in the church will complete the restoration project,” Bishop David said.  “Additional funds need to be raised, but thanks to the Kenai City Council, a matching grant has been established specifically for the fire suppression system, whereby the city will match donations up to $20,000.00.

“I see in this matching grant a real opportunity and a blessing from God to be able to complete the Kenai church project,” he added.  “It is like every person who gives us one dollar is actually giving us two dollars, and I hope that many people will find it in their hearts to help us complete this project.”

Thirty-three church buildings across Alaska are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Since it’s establishment in 2002, ROSSIA’s board has identified ten of these churches requiring urgent restoration, including Holy Assumption in Kenai.  Since its establishment, ROSSIA has relied on numerous preservation-minded Native corporation leaders, Orthodox clergy, government officials, architects, and historians dedicated to the preservation of Alaska’s Orthodox churches and iconography.  See related story.

Donations may be sent to ROSSIA, PO Box 212315, Anchorage, AK 99521-2315 or may be made on-line.