Our History

paintingchurchThe structure which is home to St. Paul’s Church is a registered as a Historic Site by the Michigan Division, Department of State. Built in 1859 as a Universalist Church, it is Dowagiac’s oldest public building. At the time of completion, it was the town’s only auditorium and served as the venue for speakers and performers who came through town on the “Circuit Chautauqua,” including women’s rights advocates Victoria Woodhull, Belva Lockwood, Ann Shaw, Mary Livermore, and Susan B. Anthony; civil rights supporter, Sojourner Truth; and the Norse violinist, Ole Bull.

Established first as St. Alban’s Mission in 1897, and then as St. Paul’s Mission in 1911, the Episcopalians meeting here first leased the building and then purchased it in 1913. On June 8, 1915, St. Paul’s was established as a parish of the Diocese of Western Michigan and consecrated as an Episcopal Church in December 1919.

The Romanesque-style exterior has remained largely unchanged; however, following a fire, the interior was remodeled extensively in 1959 when Dom Francis Bacon, a member of St. Gregory’s Abbey in Three Rivers, added the mosaics which are still the most prominent features of the chancel area of the church.