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Nativity of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church

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1906; 1939–1940, enlarged. Ouzinkie
  • Nativity of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church (Jet Lowe)

Occupying a hilly site on a picturesque harbor, Nativity of Our Lord Church has the distinctive elements of an Alaskan Russian Orthodox church. The long nave, topped with an octagonal cupola, has a lower sanctuary at the east end and an even lower vestibule at the west end.

Constructed in 1906, the church looked slightly different before alterations in 1939–1940: the nave was shorter, almost square, measuring about 18 feet by 21 feet on the interior. The nave was two bays long; a change in the wooden siding marks the spot where the additional bay was added. A three-stage bell tower was at the west end; removed from the church and altered, the top two levels now serve as a detached gatehouse, while the first level is now the vestibule. On the interior, the octagonal cupola sheds light on the iconostas, which is divided into seven bays and painted white with gold trim.

Ouzinkie was founded by the survivors of a settlement on the other side of Spruce Island, established by Father Herman in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Father Herman died in 1837, and twelve years later the settlement was devastated by disease; the survivors relocated to this site. Their first church, built just to the north of this one, was a low gable-roofed log structure. Members of the village built this new one in 1906. In the 1930s, the village was described as having two hundred people, mostly Aleuts; Russian was still spoken in the majority of the homes. The village had two canneries, one of which hired Native labor, probably accounting for the prosperity that encouraged them to enlarge their church in 1939.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Nativity of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Church", [Ouzinkie, 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, 286-287.

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