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The Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Russian Orthodox Church

National Historic Landmark


St. Nicholas Chapel from different angles and seasons.  The snow scene is my photograph.


There are three buildings included in the landmark: The Parish House (believed to be the oldest building on the Peninsula erected by the Russians), St. Nicholas Chapel which is a Memorial Shrine and the Holy Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church. All three buildings are constructed of logs. The church property also consists of a graveyard, a small park, a reproduction of Ft. Kenai, currently used by the Kenaitze Indian Tribe for youth and elder programs, and four historic log buildings behind Ft. Kenai.
The church in December 1998.  This photo is courtesy of myself.  Please ask permission before using.

The first Christian missionary to reach Kenai was Father Juvenaly, one of the ten original monks who came to the Kodiak Island from the Valaam Monastery in Russian Finland. Father Juvenaly wintered here in 1795-96, baptizing all the local inhabitants. Much later Kenai was to receive its first resident priest, Igumen Nicholai who arrived in 1846. Through his energetic labors, Igumen Nicolai recorded 1432 members in the parish by 1859. He founded a small chapel, which was part of the original Russian trading post, and established the first school. Today Father Nicholai is buried under the commemorative chapel bearing his name, approximately on the original site of the first chapel. In 1846, the parish received a $400.00 grant from the Holy Synod to build the present church of the Holy Assumption. The bell tower was added later. All of the icons (except for small prints used by the Parish on Holy days) in the church were brought from Russia. Icons from the first chapel reside in the church. The iconastasis was painted in Russian for the church and brought for the consecration. The style of art used in the iconastasis is believed to have been produced for a period of 15 years and was called new art. The chandelier is possibly the largest candle-burning chandelier in the Alaska Diocese. Several tiers were removed from the chandelier due to its enormous size. The Holy Assumption church is one of the oldest active parishes in Alaska.

The Parish house still under construction but now on a permanent foundation.  The building is made of  tongue and groove logs and then painted.  Very difficult to photograph because of power lines so this was the best angle I could find.  The door has been placed back in the original position in this photo.  The shingles have been restored but are covered by snow.

The site received a grant and the house was placed on a cement foundation. The interior of the house has been restored. The exterior has been painted since this photo was taken. The Kenai has Historical Society actively raised money to help with restoration of the church itself. The parish is small but the members actively work to raise funds for restoration, landscaping and maintenance. A small book and gift store are on the site. Church volunteers give tours six days a week during the summer tourist season and on weekends during December. A Kenai Peninsula cookbook compiled the members of the church is available. If you have questions concerning this landmark, the cookbook, the tours or other information please feel free to contact me and I will try to assist you.

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