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Presentation of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Chapel

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c. 1929

Nikolai is a small Athapaskan village on the south fork of the Kuskokwim River. The three parts of this Russian Orthodox church—sanctuary, nave, and vestibule—are clearly expressed on the exterior of this structure. The nave, measuring about 18 feet by 24 feet on the interior, has a hipped roof. The sanctuary on the east end, less than 2 feet narrower and about 12 feet deep, has a gable roof, as does the vestibule on the west end, which is a little narrower than the sanctuary and about the same depth.

The wood-framed nave was constructed in about 1929, replacing a log structure built in 1915 when the village moved from its previous site a few miles away. The vestibule and sanctuary are constructed of thick planks and were added within a few years of the nave's construction. The building is crowned with three onion domes of varying shapes. On the interior, the iconostas across the east end of the nave is the focus of attention.

The church sits in a fenced churchyard with aspens and spruces. The wooden fences around each grave were painted colorfully in the spring of 1990. A shrine about 20 yards northeast of the church marks the site of the previous church.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland



Alison K. Hoagland, "Presentation of Our Lord Russian Orthodox Chapel", [Nikolai, 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, 277-277.

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