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Christ Church

Located on the north-east corner of Meridian and Circle streets, is an artistic specimen of the early English, or plain-pointed, architecture; and is, as all edifices erected to the worship of the True God should be, true throughout.  Where it looks like stone, it is stone; even to the mullions of the windows.  Its floor consists of a tower porch, nave, and shallow north and south transepts; which, together will seat about five hundred worshipers.  The chancel--sixteen feet deep, and raised four feet--is lighted by a triplet window, adorned with rich glass, filled with Christian symbols.  The other windows of the Church, many being memorial, are less elaborately decorated.  The altar--memorializing the one perfect and sufficient sacrifice, propitiation and atonement--is prominent in position, and superior in ornamentation.  It is placed high against the east all of the chancel.  The font is on the level of the nave, at the steps of the chancel.  An oaken lecturn stands just outside the chancel, on the north side.  The pulpit, situated at the left side, is an octagonal oaken structure, supported on a pedestal, all plainly but handsomely finished.  The roof is open, heavily timbered, and the ceiling is colored with ultra marine blue. 

    Outside, the whole building presents a beautiful, true, and churchly appearance, with its lancet, triplet, and trefoil windows, appearing along the side, among the buttresses, and up in the gable angles.  The gray lime-stone walls, well laid in irregular shapes and varying tints, are relieved by prominent buttresses, with water-sheds and caps, high above the eaves.  The roof is of blue and purple slate, laid in square and octagonal courses.

    The chief feature, however, of the building, is the fine tower and spire, which occupies the south-west angle, and is the centrally prominent object in the city.  The tower proper, is about seventy-five feet high, heavily built, and boldly buttressed.  Two doors open, one west, and the other south, into the lower story, forming a vestibule; the one south being decorated with appropriate carvings and inscriptions.  Windows mark the stories above, until four bold stone gables pierced by triplets, with open blinds, complete the stone work.  Within the last story a chime of the nine bells is placed, which ring out joyfully or plaintively, in the successive seasons of festival and fast.  Above the stone-work a timber octagonal spire, slated like the roof, pierced with four windows, and having the angles covered with a moulding of galvanized iron, rises sixty feet higher.  This is surmounted by a finial, which gives the name of the Church in monogram.  It is formed by a combination of the first two Greek letters in the name of CHRIST; and has been since early in the fourth century, a well known symbol of Christianity, signifying "Christ."

    The parish and congregation of Christ Church, have been in existence nearly a quarter of a century.  The Rev. Melancthon Hoyt, first resided in Indianapolis as a Missionary of the Protestant Episcopal Church . No records of his work are preserved.  The Rev. John C. Clay, (late Dr. Clay, of Philadelphia,) had also visited the place, and had been requested to settle, after Mr. Hoyt left.  The Rev. Mr. Pfeiffer, had preached here some fourteen years before, and baptized an infant; and the Rev. Henry M. Shaw, had also appeared here as an Episcopal Clergyman.  On the 4th of July, 1837, the Rev. James B. Britton, (now of Ohio,) took up his residence as Missionary, and on the Sunday following, July 9th, the regular services on the Church in Indianapolis, commenced.  In April, 1837, a few persons started a movement, which, in July, of that year, resulted in the following agreement and association:

    "We, whose names are hereunto affixed, impressed with the importance of the Christian religion, and wishing to promote its holy influence in the hearts and lives of ourselves, our families and our neighbors, do hereby associate ourselves together, as the Parish of Christ Church, in the town of Indianapolis, township of Centre, county of Marion, State of Indiana, and by so doing, do recognize the jurisdiction of the Missionary Bishop of Indiana, and do adopt the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."
    Indianapolis, July 13, 1837.

    {Signed) -- Joseph M. Moore, D. D. Moore, Chas. W. Cady, T. B. Johnson, Geo. W. Mears, Thomas McOuat, Janet McOuat, Wm. Hannaman, A. St. Clair, Mrs. Browning, Miss Howell, Miss Gordon, Mrs. Riley, Miss Drake, Mrs. Julia A. McKenny, G. W. Starr and Mrs. Starr, James Morrison, A. G. Willard, M. D. Willard, Jas. Dawson, jr., Edward J. Dawson, Jos. Farbos, Nancy Farbos, Joseph Norman, Joanna Norman, Stewart Crawford, Jno. W. Jones, Edward Boyd, Mrs. Stevens.

    The first vestry, elected under this organization, (21st August, 1837,) consisted of five persons, to wit:

    Arthur St. Clair, Senior Warden; Thos. McOuat, Junior Warden; James Morrison, Joseph W. Moore, and Wm. Hannaman.

    On the 7th of May, 1838, the corner stone of the Church was laid by the Rector, and the work progressed with such rapidity that the building was opened for Divine Worship on the 18th of November following, and consecrated December 16, by the Right Reverend Jackson Kemper, D. D., Missionary Bishop of Indiana and Missouri.  This church was a plain, but neatly finished and strongly built Gothic edifice, of wood, which, while it made no pretensions to architectural beauty, was very far superior to any house of worship then erected in the place, and, undoubtedly, gave impulse to the building of other places by the several denominations, as its successor, the present beautiful Christ Church, did again, twenty years later.  It was, indeed, strange as it may seem in these days of architectural taste, considered to be the handsomest church in Indiana; and many letters were received, from various parts of the State, requesting drawings of the "spire," as it was called; the said spire, being merely a belfry stuck upon the front gable of the church.  This building steed for twenty years, and was removed in 1857, to make room for the new church.  It was sold, afterwards, to the African Methodist Congregation, and subsequently was destroyed by fire.

    The succession of rectors in Christ Church, has been as follows, viz:

    Rev. James B. Britton, three years, from 1837 to 1840; Rev. Moses H. Hunter, one year, form [sic] 1842 to 1843; Rev. Samuel L. Johnson, four years, from 1844 to 1848; Rev. Norman W. Camp, D. D., three years, from 1849 to 1852; Rev. Joseph C. Talbot, seven years, from 1853 to 1860; Rev. Horace Stringfellow, Jr., two and one-half years, from 1860 to 1863; Rev. Theodore J. Holcomb, one and one-half years, from 1863 to 1864; Rev. J. P. T. Ingraham, four years, from 1864 to 1868; Rev. Benjamin Franklin, 1868, the present Rector.

    Of these all are living, save one--the Rev. Samuel Lee Johnson, who died in office.

    The present church was begun and nearly completed under the rectorship of the Rev. Joseph C. Talbot, D. D. (now Assistant Bishop of the Diocese.)

    The chime of bells was hung in the spring of 1861; and the spire erected in the autumn of 1869.

    The list of communicants numbers about two hundred and fifty.  On the 15th of October, 1869, the seats in this church were declared free; and reliance for support is made successfully upon the Sunday offerings.

    The Sabbath-School is in a flourishing condition, and has about two hundred and twenty-five members.

    The value of the church property is about $70,000.

Holloway, W. R., Indianapolis, a Historical and Statistical Sketch of the Railroad City, a Chronicle of Its Social, Municipal, Commercial and Manufacturing Progress, with Full Statistical Tables, © 1870, pp. 202-204.