One of the oldest Episcopal churches west of the Mississippi
River, Christ Episcopal Church is located on Bayou Lafourche
in the Napoleonville Parish.
Built in 1853, Christ Episcopal
served as a worship space for English-speaking Protestants in
a predominately French-speaking Roman Catholic community, as
well as a community center for all English-speaking area residents.
An excellent example of Gothic Revival architecture, the church
was designed by Frank Wills.
Wills, architect for the New York
Ecclesiological Society, is also credited with the design of
Trinity Church in Natchitiches. The mission of the Ecclesiological
Society was to encourage church design in the style of English
parish churches of medieval times.
Christ Church was consecrated
on May 10, 1854, by the Right Reverend Leonidas K. Polk, first
Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, later a general in the Confederate
Using approximated $10,000 in locally raised funds, Christ
Church was constructed by George Arment, a local carpenter
since buried in the church cemetery. Dr. E. E. Kittredge donated
the land for the church and cemetery.
The building is constructed
of Louisiana cypress and brick, made on Woodlawn Plantation
by Colonel W. W. Pugh, who also supplied the labor for the
construction. Slate for the roof and stained glass used in
the windows were among the only materials imported from the
The floor plan is asymmetrical consisting of a nave,
sanctuary, transept, sacristy and entrance portico. The austere
and graceful detailing of the interior consists of white plaster
walls and dark brown stained wood work. A stained oak altar
is located in the Apse. Thin stained glass windows, featuring
bible scenes, line the interior walls. A wood organ, most
likely added during a restoration, and a wood baptismal font
complete the interior.
The exterior is topped by a large spire,
terminated by a graceful cross. The overall appearance of
the church is long and slender, with a vertical emphasis.
A cemetery is situated 12 feet from the back of church where
early members of church are buried. These eternal resting
places are marked either by a well-made and well-kept tomb
or crumbling unmarked graves.
During the Civil War, Christ Church was used as a barracks
by Union troops from Ohio and Indiana. Later they stabled
their horses there and used the stained glass windows for
Having been destroyed almost completely
during the war, the church was abandoned until 1869, when
the greatly impoverished congregation, out of its own slender
means, was able to restore it for public worship. Upon visiting
in 1869, Bishop Wilmer declared that "they were persecuted,
but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."
edifice had scarcely been restored before it was severely
damaged in a thunderstorm and later by lightening. Again it
had to be abandoned. The task of rebuilding began anew, with
the major effort being undertaken between 1887 and 1906 under
the leadership of the Edward Pugh Munson family.
It was during
this period that the beautiful Tiffany stained glass window
was sent to New York for restoration and was reinstalled above
With a renaissance of spirit at work in Christ
Church, it continues to hold weekly services for its small,
but growing, membership. Friend of Christ Church, Inc., has
assumed the responsibility of maintaining the church and cemetery.
While the majority of the members are descendants of the founding
families, membership is open to all having an interest in
preserving the historical richness of South Louisiana.
Christ Episcopal Church and Cemetery is located on State
Hwy. 1, at the north edge of Napoleonville.
It is open for
services or by appointment by calling Judge Leon LeSueur,
Senior Warden, at 985-369-2106, who will be happy to conduct