Wednesday, October 9, 2019

St Paul's Church

Technically it's not a cathedral though in this small town it sure looks like one. It's an Episcopal church founded in 1832, four years after the city was chartered.
They built the first church in this site in 1832 and sent to the Bishop of New York, no idea why, for a priest. Sanson Brunot showed up and the church began it's long career in Key West.
I am always drawn to the Key West cemetery, a repository of history, and some say ghosts. Whatever. It seems the church is now offering a place to put cremated remains now that Episcopalians ( and Catholics) think cremation is okay. If I cared I would have a tough time choosing the beauty of the cemetery or the serenity of the church as final resting place. As it is I expect Layne to scatter my ashes in any convenient place when I am finally dead. For others the desire to be put in a particular place is paramount and in this town with not much room an alternative to the public cemetery may be needed:
In response to this need, churches have established special facilities for the care and safekeeping of cremated remains.  St. Paul’s is one such church. This may be either a special garden area, a columbarium, or both. The Latin word columbarium means the dwelling place of a dove based on the Latin columba, the bird remembered in the New Testament as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. In ancient Rome, early Christians referred to their burial niches in the catacombs as columbaria, noting the resemblance to the nesting boxes provided for doves. In later years the word came to mean an area of consecrated church ground used for the burial of cremated remains.
St. Paul’s historic Memorial Garden was at one time a cemetery (churchyard) dating from antebellum times. Graves for the interment of caskets are no longer available and have not been available for some time.  A memorial columbarium for the interment of cremated remains has recently been added to the historic churchyard.  The maintenance of the Memorial Garden together with the graves, the few headstones and columbarium is the responsibility of the Columbarium Committee.
{St Paul's Columbarium LINK}  
I was looking over the church website and I came across a wedding planning page. Well, I thought to myself, unlike most Key West weddings on the beach this lot must be all up the church and everything. Not a bit of it! The'll marry you on the beach too! Cracked me up. 
Whether it’s an intimate elegant cocktail reception in our garden, an indoor seated dinner reception in our parish hall or rehearsal dinner in our courtyard overlooking Duval Street, there is no better romantic spot for your wedding or wedding events.  

The team at St. Paul's is all about catering to your needs and dreams. We offer 5 different locations on our grounds for your events. We provide the venue and you bring the caterer of your choice.  

The options for your special days are endless.  Plan your destination wedding event in Key West with us  right here at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, right on world famous Duval Street.  {LINK}
I have enjoyed St Paul's over the years as a venue for concerts, not forgetting the brilliant lunch time organ recitals. I wish I could organize to slip in at noon when I'm at work but noon is a collegaue's preferred time to take his lunch...and he uses it to walk his dog so who am I to try to break his habits of a lifetime? Besides I split my lunch breaks these days either going to the gym or walking around with my camera. 
Naturally I had my camera with me on this lunch time "walk." Which pretty soon devolved into a seated break enjoying the cross breeze in the shadowy depths of the church. 
The early history of the church is fascinating especially as it involves immediate descendants of two of the founding four, John Whitehead and John Fleming (actually Fleeming):

The first Vestry was elected April 8, 1833, and Rev. Brunot became a permanent house guest of Vestryman William Whitehead, as there was no rectory or church building. Land for a church site was given by the widow of John William Charles Fleming in 1832 with the only stipulation that her husband’s remains stay where they were. He is still buried on the grounds, but the actual site is unknown.  

The original church made of coral rock, was built in 1838-39. The building, when completed, was 38 x 58 feet, and the total cost of construction was $6,500. This first building was totally destroyed by a hurricane on October 11, 1846. The second church was a wooden structure measuring 28 x 66 feet. Services were held in this building on June 30, 1848, and the church was consecrated on January 4, 1851, by the Right Reverend C.E. Gadsden, Bishop of South Carolina. {LINK}
There are some astonishing photos of the church over the years on THIS page.
For my part I sat until I suddenly realized I risked being late back to work, so I took pictures and fled.