A Brief History

The early years

Before we became St. John's, we were known as Kanawha Parish. The Rev. Joseph Willard was the first Episcopal clergyman to come to Kanawha County, circa 1814.

The Rev. Charles H. Page was sent to Charleston (then Virginia) by Bishop Meade in 1822. Mr. Meade preached in Charleston, Coalsmouth and Guyandotte until he left in 1826. There were about 12 communicants in Charleston in 1822.

First church building

The original St. John's was a brick building located at the northwest corner of Virginia and McFarland Streets.

It was consecrated November 10, 1837. During the Civil War the church was used as a quartermaster depot by the Union army. The building was left in a state of disrepair, its misuse aggravated by the great flood of 1861. The only piece of furniture remaining from that building is the credence table in the sanctuary of our present church. In 1887, the vestry voted to sell the original church building to R.R. Skies for a sum just over $4,000.

Present church buildings

The need for a larger building was evident as early as 1884 when efforts were started to raise money to acquire the present location at the corner of Quarrier and Broad streets, the latter now named Leon Sullivan Way. The new building was designed by the renowned architect, Isaac Pursell of Philadelphia.

Ground was broken Nov. 1, 1883 and the cornerstone was laid Apr. 26, 1884. The building was in construction through 1890 and finally consecrated in June 1901 at a cost of $122,954.50. The parish house, connected to the church by a hallway, was constructed in 1928.

St. John's in the local community

Historically, St. John's has served as mother church for Episcopal presence in the Kanawha Valley. St. Luke's (the present location of St. Christopher) on Charleston's West Side began as a mission of St. John's in 1873, as did St. Matthew's in South Hills in 1893 and St. James in North Charleston in 18 96. In 1953, a number of families from St. John's helped form All Saints in South Charleston, and in 1956 St. John's formed the Church of the Good Shepherd in the Kanawha City section of Charleston. St. John&'s has long been on the cutting edge in social outreach. Manna Meal, a soup kitchen feeding nearly 400 people two meals each day, was founded by St. John's in 1976 and, though now a separate corporate entity supported by a large number or faith groups, continues to be housed in our facilities.

The parish has given birth to and continues to nurture many agencies that serve the community, including Kanawha Pastoral Counseling Center, Covenant House, Women's Health Center, Kanawha Hospice, West Virginia Health Right and Spokes4Folks.

Rectors of St. John's