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Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

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  • Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
  • Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

This simple log building was erected at this site in 1897, when a group of Tanaina moved here from Knik. One of only a handful of nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox churches in Alaska, Saint Nicholas's retains the traditional elements and forms.

The church is a small, 19-foot-by-30-foot hewn-log structure with a gable roof. At the west end, the shed-roofed vestibule, open in front, supports a bell tower. The walls, which have lap joints in the middle of the long sides, have diamond notches at the corners (or, perhaps, an untrimmed dovetail). During restoration in 1976–1977, the vestibule and bell tower were replaced and new concrete block footings were installed.

The interior is simply furnished, with plywood wainscoting and cloth tacked on the walls and ceiling. Two-thirds of the building is devoted to the nave, which is separated from the sanctuary by the iconostas. Extending to the ceiling, the iconostas has sophisticated wooden moldings and several oil-on-canvas icons thought to be quite old. The simplicity of the structure and the spareness of the furnishings contrasting to the splendor of the icons are characteristic features of Alaskan Russian Orthodox churches.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church", [Chugiak, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Alaska, Alison K. Hoagland. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, 106-106.

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