Historic Church Project: The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist


Editor's Note: This is part of our Historic Church Project series. Read about this project here.

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, standing somewhere around 190 feet tall, can be seen from just about anywhere in Spokane.

Construction began on the historic church in 1925 and the first service was held there in 1929. It’s one of the few Gothic Revival cathedrals in the U.S.

The building is filled with Christian symbolism, explained Chief Tour Guide John Creed. From the floor plan — the church is shaped like a Latin cross — to the stained glass windows that illustrate Christian history, as well as Spokane history.

“We were so blessed to have it be such a progressive idea in a such a relatively small town that’s not really near a navigable body of water,” Creed said. “It’s amazing.”

St. John's Cathedral
St. John’s Cathedral

Named by Bishop Edward Makin Cross, the first Episcopal bishop of Spokane, St. John the Evangelist is the union of three Episcopal congregations: All Saints, St. James and St. Peter’s.

Inside are stunning stained glass windows, created by prominent painter and muralist Charles Connick. St. John’s is five windows — or about $2 million — away from fully completing the church as it still needs to install five stained glass windows.

Cross wanted the house of prayer to be a place for cultural, civic and social gatherings and St. John’s continues to fulfill that vision, explained Dean Bill Ellis.

Once upon a time St. John’s was known for its silent movies and United Service Organization, or USO dances. Today it’s known for its annual Bach Festival and its 4th of July Carillon Concert, among other things. The custom built Aeolian Skinner organ with 4,200 pipes and the specially-cast carillon bells set it apart from other local churches.

Free guided tours of the cathedral are on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Sundays, September through May, guided tours are available for one hour after the last morning worship service.

More photos of St. John's are available on our Facebook page.

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