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Nativity of the Holy Theotokos Russian Orthodox Church

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  • Nativity of the Holy Theotokos Russian Orthodox Church (Jet Lowe)

The massive hewn logs of this structure are revealed at the east end, where the sanctuary has been removed, and on the north side, where some of the siding has been removed. The logs, dovetailed at the corners, range from 9 inches to 16 inches in height and are 12 inches wide.

Named after the Madonna ( Theotokos, Greek for “God bearer,” being a title given to the Virgin Mary since the time of the early church), this church had a sanctuary, nave, bell tower, and vestibule in the standard east-west alignment of Russian Orthodox churches. The community of Afognak was hard hit during the 1964 tidal wave and afterward elected to move to a new site. The congregation took with it only the iconostas and royal doors from this building to their new church at Port Lions. The belfry, with round-arch openings for the bells, had disappeared by 1975 and the vestibule soon after. Recently, as the ocean undermined the church, which now sits partially on the beach, the sanctuary has been dismantled and stored in the nave.

An interior dome, whose framing is visible in the attic (and shown in this photograph), supports an octagonal drum, which protrudes through the gable roof and is lit by several windows, which originally shed light on the iconostas below. Layers of wallpaper and oilcloth in the nave hint at past splendors, and the partially dismembered church remains an evocative sight in a desolate setting.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Nativity of the Holy Theotokos Russian Orthodox Church", [Kodiak, 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, 287-287.

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