St Paul Episcopal Church History


Information comes from a paper found at the Campbell County Historical & Genealogical Society in Alexandria and is in a folder marked St Paul Episcopal Church and written by Stephen Alexander Rector in May 1993.


St Paul began with a meeting of Episcopalians in the home of Mr. Michael Jones, on Easter Day, April 11, 1844.  Present were James Taylor, Samuel Winston, Thomas Armstrong and John Stevenson, prominent citizens of Newport. The congregation grew rapidly and a brick building, originally occupied by Methodists, located on the present site of St Paul's across from the Court House, was purchased in September of that year for the sum of $500.  Even though several changed and additions were made, this building soon outgrown.

The congregation was proud of the fact it had not split during the recent Civil War, although sons of St Paul's fought on both sides of the conflict.  Indeed, the congregation had grown during the War.  It was decided that a new large magnificent structure should be erected as a public statement of thanksgiving for their unity during this troubled period.  In a localized version of English country Gothic, the result is a most impressive structure.  Constructed of native field stone, it boats the only un-reinforced stone steeple in the United States.

In 1870 the older building was torn down.  The cornerstone was given to Robert's Lodge of the Freemasons.  In May of 1871 a contract for the present structure was entered into with J R Neff, architect, and Robert Venables, contractor for the sum of $19,452.  In the history of Benaiah Crewes, then the 22nd Rector of St Paul, written in 1935, he says "Think of it! What would this same building cost 25 years from now? At least $250,000". You might be interested to know that today (1993) St Paul is insured for 3 million.

Construction was begun, but it was four years before the congregation would occupy the building. Construction continued for 17 years.  By then, costs had ballooned to over $33,000. New pews and stained glass orders were cancelled causing a rift and many members left.  This made the financial situation even more dire.  The Church was forced to default on the loan.  What had been intended as a public statement of unity during and after the Civil War collapsed in public humiliation.  A repayment plan was negotiated but it saddled St Paul with a heave debt which took years to retire.

Over a period of time furnishing and paraments were provided through bequests and gifts.  Because they are not all of one period, St Paul has a certain eclectic look which is part of its charm.  Stained glass was emplaced lancet by lancet, the last as recently as the 1950s.  Unfortunately the history of the windows has been lost.  Some of it was designed locally.  The central window in the sanctuary depicting the ascension of Jesus is unusual.  There is a border of multicolored rondolets found only in France. The south window in the front wall shows "Truth" arriving on a cloud of opalescent glass carrying lilies in her arms. The side panels don't match it at all.

In 1928 the old house adjacent to the Church was torn down and a large brick parish house was built.  The main hall featured a stage and the hall itself doubled as an athletic court.  The great flood of 1937 filled the undercroft of the Church with water and mud and structural damage can still be seen. Valuable papers were lost.  The Moeller organ was purchased from the E A Good Funeral home in Cincinnati in 1952 for $2000. It was completely rebuilt by the Schaedle Company of Cincinnati in 1988 and is an excellent instrument.

In the 1960s the interior of the Church was redesigned. Pews were removed, the central aisle was widened, asphalt tiles were laid over the original wood floor.  The original brass chandeliers and wall sconces were replaced with spotlights. In the 1970s when the entrance to the Central Bridge was reworked, the City of Newport attempted to take the property through immanent domain.  The congregation quickly applied for and received designation as a national landmark. Also in the late 1960s St Paul Child Care was established.  Serving over 60 children of the working poor, it is the oldest and until recently the only such facility in Campbell County. In 1984 it became an agency of Greater Cincinnati's Community Chest United Appeal.

In 1980 the parish was reduced to mission status.  There are only 100 people and are hoping to regain parish status.  This is due to a large bequest from the estate of Miss LaVerne Elmes, superintendent of the Sunday School for over 60 years.


N H Coff-1844
G G Moore-1844
A Lounsberry-1844-1848
G G Moore-1848-1849
C H Page-1849-1852
J Taylor-1852-1853
W W Dodge-1854
F F Boyd-1855
C A Foster-1856
P H Jeffries 1858-1866
G D E Mortimer 1867-1870
A R Walker 1870-1871
Foster Ely 1871-1875
W M Pettis 1876-1883
Reverdy Estill 1884-1893
W G McCready-1894-1900
Robert L Harris 1901-1904; later Bishop of Marquette
Robert B Nelson 1904-1907
Charles Clingman 1908-1913; later Bishop of Kentucky
Lester L Riley 1914-1917
Edmund T Jillson 1918-1923
Frank E Cooley 1923-1931
B H Crewe 1031-1936
W B Dern 1936-1956
Calvin R Miller 1956-1959
Edmund W Taylor 1959-1977
Michael R Murphy 1978-1980
Stephen G Alexander 1981

A historical marker is at the church at the corner of Court and York Street, Newport U.S. 27.

"For a century and a quarter, St Paul Episcopal Church has stood on this corner.  Since 1871 the bell in the towering spire atop this native stone church has rung for services.  here, worshipped General James Taylor of War of 1812; Henry Stanbery, who defended President Andrew Jackson at his impeachment trial of 1868; and Brent Spence, who served 37 years in Congress and a lifetime member of the church."


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