The History of Christ Episcopal Church
Women of the Episcopal faith, Mrs. R. L. Wilson, Mrs. James B. Dennis, Mrs. Samuel Harris, Mrs. Cheney, and Mrs. Otto Buehrmann wanted a place to worship in Cape Girardeau, so in 1874 they began their quest. Mr. Robert Wilson gave them a lot located on the hill near the site of the old Fort A from the Civil War. This currently would be on the east end of Bellevue Street, known then as Windmill Hill.
The trend of the building at the time, however, was in the valley south of that point. So the lot on Windmill Hill was sold, and another piece of land was purchased which was at the time a wheat field, and where the church remains to this day. The lot is at the corner of Themis and Fountain, and was obtained from Jack Painter for $200. It was possibly owned previously by Louis Lorimer, one of the founding fathers of Cape Girardeau. Weekly services were held at the Common Pleas Courthouse until the completion of the church.
Besides the money from the congregation and the fundraising efforts of the women named above, a Merchant Minstrel was held in the St. Charles Hotel, Pink Teas at Booth Exhibits, and the Fair in the Petit New Orleans. Two young women, Ann Green Cunningham and Vergie Wilson, worked Saturdays for three weeks to secure donations from saloons. Mrs. Wilson is said to have once remarked, "A lot of whiskey money built that church!"
Christ Episcopal Church will have services this Sunday and regularly thereafter. The new rector, Rev. J. W. Plunkett, will be here then, and members of the parish are making efforts to resurrect interest in the church. The building is being remodeled and put into good shape.
During the summer months a basement has been excavated beneath the church, and a pipeless furnace has been installed. It is believed that this will add greatly to comfort of members gathered for services. Prior to the installation of the furnace it was often said that properly heating the building was nearly impossible.
Work has begun on the interior decorations of Christ Episcopal Church. The first task is the cleaning of white color from ceiling and its restoration to as near original wood color as possible; this week considerable repairs will be made to plastering, after which the walls of the church will receive two coats of oil paint.
The work of redecorating CEC's interior was completed last week, and the church is very attractive. Large pieces of broken plaster were taken from the walls and replaced, and the walls have been given a touch of white paint. All woodwork, including pews, has been gone over. New electric lights are installed, and it is planned to place new carpet on the floor. Members of the Guild have shouldered responsibility for repairing and redecorating.
The fiftieth anniversary of the laying of CEC's cornerstone at Fountain and Themis is observed. At the time of the cornerstone's installation in 1877, there were only few Episcopalians in Cape Girardeau. Of CEC's original congregation, Mrs. Jennie A. Wilson is the only surviving member.
CEC consecrates and presents two memorials to deceased members during the Ascension Thursday service at Christ church. One of these memorials is a silk processional flag and staff, and will be presented in memory of Louise Wasem. The other memorial, an artistic brass missal stand, is presented in memory of George W. Patton.
Christ Episcopal Church receives a new roof. The original board roof, laid when the structure was first built, is replaced with modern, fireproof shingles. The new shingles are more durable, but some complain that they subtract from the architectural attractiveness of the building.
Christ Episcopal Church formally reopens after extensive remodeling during the early fall, beginning with the morning Holy Communion service. The Rt. Rev. William Scarlett of St. Louis, Bishop of the Missouri Diocese of the church, is the guest speaker. Among improvements made to the church are the installation of new floors and sills, pews, beams, lighting fixtures, kneeling benches, choir stalls, and pew screens.
A bronze plaque is dedicated on Sunday morning honoring the memory of Mary Langdon Frizel Russell, one of the founders of Christ Episcopal Church. The plaque, mounted inside the building, was presented as a memorial by her three granddaughters: Mrs. C. A. Vandivort of Cape Girardeau, and Mrs. J. C. Ingraham and Mrs. Frank Magill of St. Louis. Russell, who was born in 1821 and died in 1895, was the first woman baptized in an Episcopal Church in this part of the state.
Employees of Missouri Utilities Co. and Southeast Missouri Telephone Co. arrange their lines to permit passage of CEC's rectory as it is moved. The building has reached the middle of Fountain Street just off Broadway on its journey to its new location on Washington Avenue. The utilities company reroutes its lines, and there is no interruption of service except for a few in the immediate vicinity of the intersection. A telephone cable with 100 pairs of wires crossing east-west over the intersection will have to be cut, however, and phones served by cable will be out of service several hours.
Under cover of darkness, workers roll the two-story, eight-room rectory of Christ Episcopal Church across Broadway shortly before 10 p.m. as linemen from the telephone company cut the cable containing 100 pairs of wires. Telephone service is restored by 2 a.m. the next day. Hundreds of locals show up to picnic and chat with one another while watching the spectacle.
The CEC Church Building Committee announces the acceptance of a $36,000 bid by Ray M. Dilschneider, a contractor from St. Louis, for the erection of a new parish house. The new structure, a one-story building of red brick, will be built just north of the church on Fountain Street and will feature an archway connecting the two buildings.
A 42-inch fan is installed at Christ Episcopal Church and used for the first time at worship services. The fan was installed in the sacristy by Flentge's General Electric appliance firm. The fan features an automatic time control, turning on at 3 a.m. Sunday and running for two hours before liturgy to take advantage of the early morning cool air.
Singing the hymn, "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation," a procession of members of the congregation pass through the newly dedicated church building for the first time to hold a reception in the Parish House. Officiating at the dedication is the Rt. Rev. George L. Cadigan, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Missouri.
The congregation of the second-oldest church building in Cape Girardeau still in use is celebrating its centennial throughout the month of October. Christ Episcopal Church was built in 1876; today is "History Sunday," with a sermon featuring some facets of the church's long history. A coffee reception is held afterward in the Parish Hall, where copies of the parish history, "Historical Sketch of Christ Church," are also available for sale.