Christ Episcopal Church was organized January 7, 1828, by The Rev. Robert Davis. It is the second oldest Episcopal Church in Alabama and the oldest church building in Tuscaloosa.
February 28, 1828, Captain William Nichols, State Architect, was requested to estimate the cost of building the church. The lot on which it stands was bought at that time from the Masons for . The cost of the building was $1,700. The vestry agreed to pay "one third when the foundation was laid, one third when the walls were raised, and one third when the building was covered." Henry A. Snow and Company "contributed to the expense thereof one fifth of the total cost, including the ground and organ." Work began in 1829 and the edifice was completed in 1830.
Twenty-five pews were placed in the church. The pews were sold to the highest bidder. was the highest bid for a single pew and the lowest. Pews were also rented for a year from the Monday after Easter until the next Monday after Easter. This was the only source of income for the church.
Charter ceremonies for the University of Alabama were held in Christ Church. The Rev. Alva Woods was installed as the first president of the University on April 12, 1831.
On January 18, 1835, the second Sunday after Epiphany, Christ Church was consecrated "for the worship of almighty God according to the rites of the Protestant Episcopal Church by The Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Brownell, Bishop of Connecticutt," who had been appointed in charge of the Episcopal Church in Alabama until 1844 when the Diocese was strong enough to have its own Bishop.
On December 20, 1858, the new bell was received, manufactured by A. Meneelys of Troy, New York, weighing 1,041 pounds. In 1862, the vestry voted to offer the bell to the government to be re-cast into guns, however, this was not done.
In 1882, the church was enlarged and remodeled. The Greek revival architecture of the building was changed to the present Gothic and the bell tower was added. The original building had a stone front with two doors from which the boys used to jump and vie with each other to see who could jump the farthest. The windows were old fashioned rectangular affairss with blinds. The chancel rail was semi-circular; on one side of the altar was a tablet with the Ten Commandments and on the other side was the Apostles' Creed.
In late 1906, contracts were let for the Parish Hall and rectory. It was at this time that the dome was placed in the sanctuary at the cost of .66. The parish hall was used for Sunday School and was the first Sunday School building erected in Tuscaloosa. During World War II, the parish hall was open to servicemen on Saturday nights.
In 1952, ground was broken for the chapel and educational building. The rectory was torn down to provided the necessary grounds. This building program cost over ,000. The members of the parish were reminded: "Our church is rich in achievements of the past. Great laymen have worshipped in our sanctuary, great Christian teachers have spoken from our pulpit. Surely we will carry on our tradition by an ever greater and nobler service to our people and the community."
In 1954 the church building was found unsafe due to severe damage by termites, water, and improper repair jobs and closed for several months until necessary repairs could be made. At this time, one could pass by the building and see a small bulldozer running in and out.
It was in 1941 that the present organ was installed, replacing a pipe organ from the Ritz Theatre given in December of 1932 by C. B. Grimes. The present organ was repaired and refurbished on 1978 and again in 2000.
On May 3, 1931, the fourth Sunday after Easter, the marble altar was dedicated in memory of Henry Adams Snow, Edward Nicholas Snow, and their wives. The names H. A. Snow and E. N. C. Snow are found throughout the early records of the parish. The Bishop's Chair is a memorial to the Second Bishop of Alabama, Richard H. Wilmer. The altar rail, eagle lecturn, pulpit, prayer desks, altar cross, candelabra, urns, alms basins, processional cross, and credence tables were all given as memorials by family or friends.
The windows in the nave of the church have been added throughout the years; some of them are quite old. The needlepoint kneelers at the altar rail, made by the women of the church, were dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1975.
Symbols are used throughout the chourch; the most widely used symbol, the Cross, may be found over 60 times. IHS comes from the Greek word for Jesus, and Chi Rho (Px) is from the Greek word for Christ.
As the congregation continued to grow in size, more space for the varied parish and community activities was needed. The Masonic Temple east of the church, was purchased about 1971, demolished and the land used for the nursery school and playgrounds. In 1986 a commercial building the back of which abuts on this playground, was purchased to provide additional space. Christ Church provides leadership and sizeable sums of money in establishing two other Episcopal congregations in Tuscaloosa: Canterbury Chapel in 1951 and St, Matthias' in 1961.
The clergy and parishioners of Christ Church are in the forefront in helping meet a variety of community needs.
In 1984, when Interstate 359 funnelled traffic past Christ Church's front door, a narthex was added to diminish the noise, and with a covered walkway to the parish house made inclement weather less of a hazard to brides, the choirs, and others.
For a more indepth history of our church we offer you "LET US KEEP THE FEAST" The History of Christ Episcopal Church, Tuscaloosa, ALabama, 1828-1998. This wonderfully illustrated history by Henry Walker is .00 (includes shipping and handling). Please mail you order and payment to: Christ Episcopal Church 605 Lurleen Wallace Blvd. N. Tuscaloosa, AL 35401