Click here for the Brief History of The Parish of St. Mark
- 1874 – Trinity Mission Chapel opened at NW 17th and Savier Streets
- 1887 – Church building moved to NW 19th & Quimby
- 1889 – Organized as the Parish of St. Mark
- 1890 – Second church building was constructed
- 1908 – Second church building moved from NW 19th & Quimby to current location
- 1911 – Miss Catherine Percival arrived from Philadelphia
- 1924 – Fr. Reginald A’Court Simmonds called as Rector
- 1925 – Current church building was built
- 1931 to 1938 – Fr. Bernard Geiser painted the murals
- 1966 – Current Werner-Bosch organ installed
- 1993 – Parish withdrew from the Episcopal Church over doctrinal differences
- 2009 – Parish joined the Anglican Province of Christ the King
Our Parish History
by Arthur C. Spencer, longtime and cherished member of The Parish of St. Mark
Our beginnings were in 1872 when the clergy of Trinity Episcopal Church, then downtown Portland at Sixth and Oak Streets, led the efforts of pioneer residents of Northwest Portland to start a Mission in this area. On May 31, 1874 the first Trinity Mission Chapel was opened at NW 17th and Savier Streets by the R. Rev. B. Wistar Morris, second Bishop of the Missionary District of Oregon (then including what are now Washington and Idaho), and donated by Mr. Andrew J. Watson. The Rev. George F. Plummer, Rector of Trinity, and others conducted afternoon services there until 1887, when the Rev. William L. MacEwan was appointed Mission Vicar.
He also served as Chaplain of Bishop Scott Academy at NW 19th and Davis where Trinity’s parishioners had recently financed the moving in early 1887 of the wooden Mission Chapel building to NW 19th and Quimby Streets, on a site furnished by the Couch family heirs. Regular Sunday morning services and Sunday School classes began with the arrival of Rev. Mr. MacEwan.
In June 1889 the Missionary District of Oregon, which had existed for 38 years (since 1851), officially became the Diocese of Oregon. On September 21, 1889, Bishop Morris (who had become our first Diocesan Bishop) gave his official consent for the Trinity Mission Chapel to become a separate Parish. On October 7, 1889 the Parish of St. Mark the Evangelist was officially organized by Bishop Morris and the clergy and parishioners of Trinity Church. The Rev. Mr. MacEwan became the first Rector of St. Mark’s. He served until his death in 1895.
The new Parish was officially received into the Diocese of Oregon on June 27, 1890 during its first Diocesan Convention. The very next day, on June 28, 1890, the cornerstone was laid for a second new church building – right next to the original chapel. The new St. Mark’s Church, a wooden Gothic design by the city’s leading architectural firm, Messrs. Whidden and Lewis, opened for services in November 1890. The first Choral Evensong was held on the first Sunday of Lent in 1892, and in September 1894 a pipe organ was purchased from Grace Church of San Francisco. On November 1, 1891 the young St. Mark’s Parish had opened its All Saints Mission in the lumber mill area at what is now NW 22nd and Reed. In 1895 St. Mark’s opened its St. Agnes Mission on Palatine Hill near what became Dunthorpe.
The year 1896 saw the arrival of the Rev. Fr. John E.H. Simpson, a native of Ireland, who gradually introduced more formal liturgical practices and Anglo-Catholic customs. The arrival in 1906 of the Rt. Rev. Charles Scadding as second Diocesan Bishop further assured the feasibility of an Anglo-Catholic parish. In December 1908 the second St. Marh’s Church (1890) building was moved from NW 19th and Quimby to our present location at NW 21st and Marshall. It was reopened for services on Easter Day of 1909. During that year the parishioners of St. Mark’s officially purchased this land site, assisted by the efforts and sanction of Bishop Scadding, Mr. Richard H. Thornton, Disocesan Chancellor, and others.
Father Simpson’s tenure also included the works of the Twelfth Street Mission for a decade, which gave people a worship place, counseling, food, clothes and other assistance. He also established the Bread Room (Communion wafer baking) which continues in operation today but was originally staffed by the Sisters of St. John the Baptist (from St. Helen’s Hal) who trained the laity of St. Mark’s in the baking, cutting and wrapping to carry on after they returned East.
The year 1911 saw the arrival in Oregon City of Miss Catharine Percival and her household from Philadelphia. She soon relocated to Portland Heights where Bishop and Mrs. Scadding had established the second “Bishopcroft” (Diocesan residence) near Ascension Chapel and where Miss Percival established the Percival Memorial Library. Bishop Scadding’s death in 1914 preceded the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Walter T. Sumner as third Diocesan Bishop. He, like Bishop Scadding, was concerned with the survival of St. Mark’s as an Anglo-Catholic parish, and was a partner with Miss Percival in further realizing that goal.
Her moving to Oregon from her native Philadelphia was precipitated by the closure there of the Church of the Evangelists, where her later brother, the Rev. Fr. Henry R. Percival, the noted Anglo-Catholic divine, had been Rector. Miss Percival brought many of the appointments, vestments and treasures of that important shrine with her to Oregon. In 1924, after the tenures of Father Simpson, Father John G. Hatton and Father Wallace R. Everton as Rectors, the Rev. Fr. Reginald A’Court Simmonds, a notable priest from England and Canada, who had been serving as Vicar in SE Portland’s missions, was appointed by Bishop Sumner to the Rectorship of St. Mark’s. A truly golden age for this Parish as envisioned by the clergy and Miss Percival was then put into action. Father Simmonds served until 1951. He is remembered for the creation and ongoing enhancement of our church structure. Like his predecessors, he greatly endeared himself to the Parish neighborhood, converting many your people to the Faith through activities at the church and services at the Altar.
On June 21, 1925, the cornerstone was laid for the present magnificent Romanesque edifice. Our splendid red-brick basilica was designed by the prominent architect, Mr. Jamieson K. Parker, but modeled after Father Percival’s Church of the Evangelists in Philadelphia. That in turn had been modeled after the Cathedral at Pisa, the Cathedral at Orvieto, and San Marco in Venice, all of which were based on the tenth-century Basilica of San Zeno in Verona. Our appealing and regal architectural ancestry and presence are reflected in our gabled nave, red-brick walls with arched corbel tables, shallow buttresses, belt course and splayed round-arched openings. Our square arcaded bell-tower is of English inspiration.
The first services in his holy place were in September 1925 followed by its official consecration by Bishop Sumner on November 8, 1925. The Parish Hall, designed by Mr. Charles D. James was built in 1929. The year’s 1931-1938 saw the execution of our murals by the Rev. Fr. Bernard F. Geiser, artist-priest who came to Oregon from teaching positions in Colorado. There are eleven in all, and these can be seen over the Lady Chapel Altar and surround the High Altar and Chancel. The subjects follow in sequence the main incidents in the life of our Redeemer, the Ascension crowning the series, above the High Altar in a large fresco measuring 26 by 27 feet. On the Gospel (left) side of the sanctuary are scenes of the Nativity; Institution of the Blessed Sacrament at His Last Supper; and the Agony in the Garden at Gethsemane. On the Epistle (right) side of the sanctuary are the Crucifixion; the Descent into Limbo; and the Resurrection. The center panel of the Altar shows Christ as the Great High Priest, who pleads His Sacrifice on behalf of the world’s Salvation. The side panels represent St. Mark, patron saint of the parish, on the left, and St. John the Evangelist, on the right. Over the Lady Chapel is the Annunciation, which was completed in 1931 and preceded the creation by Father Geiser of his other masterpieces.
The Rood Screen, with Crucifix and statues, came from Venice, and were some of the many gifts from Miss Percival. On the left the statues depict St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Peter, and Our Blessed Virgin Mary. On the right the statues depict St. John the Evangelist and Divine, St. Paul, and Pope St. Gregory. Angels mourn on each side of the Food of the Cross. The four ends of the Cross are decorated with the four symbols of the Evangelists: the Eagles of St. John, the Lion of St. Mark, the Man of St. Matthew and the Calf of St. Luke. The nave statues on the left depicts St. Thomas, and that on the right depicts St. Simon. We also see a series of 17th century Belgian polychrome plaques showing the Seven Sorrows of Mary. There are many beautiful icons, including a 13th-century icon of the Holy Spirit. The icon over the doors to the sacristy work room (near the Marshall Street door) is a depiction of St. Mark the Evangelist, and was created in 1972 by a parishioner, Sherry Bettendorf. The side chapel is dedicated to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary. The mahogany altar was designed and carved by our late Rector, Father Simmonds. The Barker Memorial windows by that altar were created in the 1930’s by the Pearson Studios of Portland, and represent the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. On the center wall area hangs an old metal bas-relief of Virgin and Child in an ornate oak frame. This is flanked by two pairs of windows created by the Povey Art Glass Co., Portland’s pioneer stained-glass company, and which came from the 1890 church building.
The tryptic in the Lady Chapel’s reredos depicts a Madonna and Child, flanked by musician angels, all copies of Fra Angelico works and executed by a portrait artist, Veronica Eulberg Cody in 1936. Above this altar reredos tryptic, in a lunette, is the 1931 Annunciation mural by Father Geiser. The windows on the Epistle (right) aisle were created by the Gerlach Studios of Portland during the 1930’s and 1940’s. They represent the Seven Sacraments, and were memorial gifts by parishioners. Above the Marshall Street door, in the lunette, is Holdy Orders, Next come Holy Matrimony, Holy Eucharist, Holy Unction, and Holy Confirmation and Penance. At the back, where the stairway to the Choir Gallery is place, is Holy Baptisim. The Rose window over the organ and choir loft is a memorial to Miss Percival, and was created at the famed Connick Studios of Boston after her death in 1936. Its panels depict the Symbol of Chirst, surrounded by the Twelve Apostles.
The Carillon Bells were originally installed in 1948 in memory of the Hon. Robert S. Farrell, Jr., Oregon’s Secretary of State, and our devoted Vestryman. A new arrangement of Carillon Bells was installed in 2006, in memory of Freda S. Cooley, a devoted parishioner. In 1951 the Rev. Fr. Robert F. Lessing become Rector. He served until August 1962. Like the rectors before him, he was an integral part of the Parish neighborhood, and led many social activities for the young people. During his tenure the five clerestory windows on the Gospel (left) side were created by the Bert Willemse Studios in Scappoose, Oregon. They were given as memorials by active parishioners, and depict events in the Earthly Life and Ministry of Our Lord, including His Baptism; Teaching in the Temples as a Child; Teaching the Children; Healing the Sick; and Feeding the Multitudes. In the 1950’s the ceramic-tiled Stations of the Cross were created by Martha Pedersen and Mary Morphey. The Rev. Fr. Charles H. Osborn served as Rector from 1962 to 1974. He supervised the restoration of the church fabric, and the installation of the magnificent Werner-Bosch tracker-action organ which is a memorial to the Savier and Washburn families. Dedicated in 1966, there are 44 ranks and 2,153 pipes. Also during his tenure, he and other parishioners established the William Temple House (Episcopal Mission Society), and were joined by Episcopalians from other parishes to make possible this well known effort to serve Portland citizens in need of spiritual assistance, counseling, food, clothing and other assistance. The Parish continues to collect donations for William Temple House with a food collection program.
The Rev. Fr. Stuart K. Frane served as Rector from 1974 until early in 1993, and was an ever-stalwart defender of our Anglo-Catholic presence, integrity and practice. During his staunch tenure four clerestory stained-glass windows on the Epistle (right) side were installed. These depict St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke and St. John, were memorial gifts from parishioners, and were created by the Wipple-Mowbray Company in Exeter, England. Also during Father Frane’s tenure, he and St. Mark’s parishioners were among the founders of Northwest Portland Ministries in 1978. This interfaith organization of churches, synagogues and social agencies in our parish neighborhood continues to offer medical transportation, feed, senior residence social events, holiday dinners, free concerts and volunteer services to the needy.
On January 17, 1993 the Parish officially withdrew from the Episcopal Church and entered the Anglican Church in America (ACA), a member of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion. Father Osborn, who had helped found the ACA, and who was involved in leading efforts to preserve Anglican practices and beliefs, returned here to serve as interim priest-in-charge until the arrival in September 1993 of the Rev. Fr. Dartland B. Anderson, who served as Rector until June 1996. The Most Rev. Robin B. Connors arrived in 1995 as Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of the West (ACA). After a brief tunure by the Rev. Fr. Martin J. Wray as Rector in 1997, Bishop Connors was elected Rector in January of 1998, and served as such until December of 2001. During his tenure, two stained glass windows in the Epistle side clerestory level, over the sanctuary, were designed, painted, fired and assembled by artist Nancy Stephenson in 2000. They depict St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Also during Bishop Connors’ tenure, our Parish House (built in 1929) was beautifully renovated and updated with funds bequeathed by Alice Gregory Frazer and Ruth A’Court Simmonds Tunturi.
The Rev. Fr. Owen R. Williams served as Priest-in-charge from early 2002 until early 2003. After a year as priest-in-charge, the Rev. Fr. Mark D. Lillegard was instituted as Rector in March 2004. During his tenure, the Parish withdrew from the ACA, and entered the jurisdiction of the ‘Anglican Province of Christ the King.’ In November 2022, the current Rector serving The Parish of Saint Mark, Rev. Fr. Charles F. Hart III, was elected to continue the traditions of the Anglo-Catholic faith on which this Parish was founded. The Parish will celebrate 100 years in its current and magnificent building in 2025.