Blessed be St. Peter’s |

Blessed be St. Peter’s

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
photos by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal The Rev. Jeff Paul talks Tuesday morning about the history of St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

Nevada’s second-oldest Episcopal church is celebrating its 140th anniversary this week.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and Parish were organized Nov. 9, 1863, in Carson City. But the sanctuary itself was built in 1867-68.

“It’s very exciting for us,” said the Rev. Jeff Paul, who has been ministering at the church since September 1995.

The church body will hold a public reception from 6-9 p.m. Friday in the church, at the corner of Division and West Telegraph streets. It will be a celebration with hors d’ oeuvres, docents to tell the history of the church, local dignitaries and tours.

“We’ll be here to mingle and party,” Paul said. “We’re inviting all of our friends to be here to celebrate.”

140 years of

history and more

St. Peter’s is Nevada’s second-oldest Episcopal church still in operation. The first service in the church was Aug. 9, 1868, with the first rector of the church being William Maxwell Reilley.

“There were possibly a number of churches earlier than that,” said Barbara Lewis, Episcopal diocesan secretary in Las Vegas.

“But there have been many come and go. It was difficult with the mining industry. Towns faded away, as then did the church.”

The oldest continuously used Episcopal church in Nevada is St. Paul’s in Virginia City, having been established in 1861.

“We used to claim to be the oldest, but we’re not,” Paul said. “It was clarified. St. Paul’s is the oldest. We’re second-oldest.”


The church building is of East Coast influence, the shape of the interior resembling the hull of an upside-down ship.

The interior arrangement of the pews in three rows and no center aisle makes St. Peter’s the only Episcopal church west of the Mississippi without a central aisle leading to the altar, another New England Protestant feature. The interior features a half-domed ceiling in the sanctuary supported by Corinthian columns.

“That’s how they were built on the East Coast,” Paul said.

In July 1867, the parishioners of St. Peter’s began to build a church. Funds were raised by the women of the parish through fairs, socials, sales and entertainment activities. It was constructed by the Cornet Brothers, and painting was done by the Madeiras. By Oct. 27, 1867, it was shingled and sided.

The steeple was placed Nov. 3, and the Carson Morning Appeal newspaper remarked that the, “steeple has been raised to its place, painted handsomely, and surmounted by a cross, and that it is an ornament to the town.”

The parish hall was built in 1871, and the library added in 1875.

A part of the community

Paul says the celebration of St. Peter’s, in the heart of Carson City’s historic district, is not just for its congregation but for the district and the city.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be part of the progressive leadership of the community,” Paul said. “We are an inclusive worshipping community aware of our history and looking forward to the future – both intellectually and spiritually. Not just for us, but for Carson City.

“We want to claim ground of being part of the progressive religious voice.”

“We consider ourselves blessed to be part of the history and greater Carson City,” Paul said.

“It’s just a blessing for us, pure and simple. For it, we are deeply grateful.”

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at or 881-1223.


WHAT: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church’s 140th anniversary


WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Corner of Division and West Telegraph streets

CALL: 882-1534