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Russian Orthodox Church

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after 1912. South side of Naknek River
  • Russian Orthodox Church (Jet Lowe)

The gable-roofed rectangular church at Savonoski, measuring 16 by 40 feet, has several unusual features. Wood-framed with clapboard siding, the church has double doors with round-arch panels—a stock Victorian door, perhaps, but highly unusual in remote Alaska. Over the windows, sawtooth ornament is applied in the form of an exaggerated pediment, reminiscent of Russian ornament. A square cupola allows light into the nave.

Contained within the main rectangular block are three elements: sanctuary, nave, and narthex. The back quarter of the block, marked by a wide arch, serves as narthex, while through a single door in the rear is the vestibule, measuring 9 feet by 11 feet. There is a three-step amvon, or platform before the iconostas, which is currently decorated with faded paper flowers, having been stripped of its icons.

The church was built when the old village of Savonoski, which was once located closer to Katmai, evacuated to this site after the 1912 volcanic eruption. The village is now abandoned. Elaborate pickets form a fence around the church and its cemetery, which are reached by a long boardwalk snaking across the tundra from the site of the village on the Naknek River.

Writing Credits

Alison K. Hoagland


What's Nearby


Alison K. Hoagland, "Russian Orthodox Church", [Naknek, 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, 280-280.

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