Project: Ascension of Our Lord Chapel

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Church History

The Ascension of Our Lord Chapel was constructed in 1888 and is believed to be the second Orthodox church in Karluk; the first was constructed before 1800. Architectural Historian, Alison Hoagland, in her book, Buildings of Alaska, notes that this church “is the oldest extant Russian Orthodox church in Alaska, as well as being one of the most professionally designed.” The design is attributed to Charles Smith Hursh while the materials were purchased by the Alaska Packers Company or the Karluk Packing Company at the request of a local Native named Melety who would rather have a church than the new housing his company was building. The prosperous runs of salmon in the Karluk River brought many canneries to the area in the early 1880s and with it, a larger population.


The Ascension of Our Lord Chapel contributes to the National Register of Historic Places listing for the Russian Orthodox Church Buildings and Sites for its significant association with the Russian occupation of Alaska.



Architecturally, the church is beautifully designed with a prominent bell tower and an octagonal cupola. Research indicates that the structural components of the church are log, which were covered with horizontal wood siding. The remarkable site, high on Kodiak Island’s bluffs overlooking the Shelikov Strait and the Village of Karluk below, contributes to the beauty of this iconic Alaskan Orthodox church.

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