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Historic Saint George

A Brief History of Saint George Episcopal Church

St. George Episcopal Church is an example of the historic river missions established by the second bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, John Freeman Young. In 1877, a small group of Episcopalians met with Bishop Young and established a mission on Fort George Island.  The island, which
at that time was accessible only by boat, is rich with Pre-Columbian history and is the home of Kingsley  Plantation, a remarkable story in itself.  In that year, Bishop Young established missions on Fort George Island and nearby Batten Island.Before the end of 1881, services were being held  in the  
uncompleted  building.

In 1883, the beautiful stained glass windows were installed, including the window above the altar which depicts St. George slaying his dragon.  On Holy Innocents Day, 1884, the completed building was consecrated and set aside as a house for Episcopal worship by the Bishop of  Florida.  The building’s architecture is known as Carpenter Gothic, a style which prevailed for small churches in this area at the time.  It was considered to be easily built and maintained and the board and batten construction is quite suitable for the climate.  

St. George’s building remains essentially unchanged and has been recognized by the City of Jacksonville and the State of Florida as an historic building. In 1987, the building was restored with the help of a State of Florida
preservation grant.  St. George’s was awarded a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.    

From the completion of the building in 1884, the next 113 years were lived as a Mission of the Diocese.  Having been self-sufficient for several years, in January 1997 St. George’s was welcomed as a full Parish into the Diocese by Stephen Hays Jecko, the seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Florida.

An Historic Landmark

St. George Church is on the National Register of Historic Sites.  Here is what the text of our historical marker reads:

St. George Episcopal Church, designed by Robert S. Schuyler and built in 1882, is a fine example of Carpenter Gothic, one of the most distinctive varieties of church architecture.  Such churches were promoted by Florida's second beshop, John Freeman Young (1820-1885) just after the Civil War.  Bishop Young divided north Florida into regions defined by major water bodies.  These churches along the St. Johns River included St. George Episcopal Church on Ft. George Island.   


Using local materials and craftsmen, Carpenter Gothic became the preferred form of church construction from 1867 to 1924.  Gothic architechural characteristics are defined by:  a steep gable roof, a narrow rectangular building shape, pointed lancet windows and a bell tower.  New York architect R. Dennis Chantrell (1783-1872) best described this type of church as "a handsome church, which is a kind of standing sermon."

A Florida Heritage Site
Sponsored by the St. George Episcopal Church
and the Florida Department of State

About Our Patron Saint

Very little is known about the life and martyrdom of Saint George. It is certain that the martyr lived during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. He is reputed to have come from Cappadocia, and reached the rank of Tribune in the Roman army.  Diocletian issued a royal order that all Christians who denied Christ would be given royal honors, while those who persisted in their faith would be punished with death. The soldier George not only remained firm in his faithfulness to Christ, but denounced the emperor's orders as cruel and unjust.         

Many legends have sprung up around the life of St. George telling of his chivalrous behavior in protecting women, fighting evil, might of arms, and generosity to the poor. Devotion to Saint George became popular in Europe after the 10th century. In 15th century England his feast day on April 23rd was as popular and important as Christmas. The Anglican church built in memory of him at Lydda, Palestine, where he is believed to have been killed on April 23rd of 304, was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries.

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