Established in 1884, Narcoossee became a colony comprised of English immigrants. They began to meet for worship services regularly by 1887, sometimes gathering in homes; when weather was pleasant, they would meet outdoors. Soon, consideration was given to building an Episcopal church in Narcoossee and fundraising efforts began. Some funds for the completion of the church in 1897 did come from England, but the majority of money was raised locally.
Rumors circulated over the years claiming that the wood & furnishings were sent over from England. Records show the lumber for the construction of the church and the roof shakes (shingles) came from the Fell-Davidson sawmill in Narcoossee, the bell (from a factory in Ohio) was previously used at the Runnymede Hotel and the Gothic style church was designed by an Orlando architect.
Consecrated the Episcopal Church of St. Peter on February 9, 1898 by Bishop William Crane Gray, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Florida and the Rev. H.B. Stuart-Martin, it was a rustic brown church nestled among the pine trees. The steeple stood 72 feet (at that time, the tallest in the state) and was topped by a four foot white wooden cross. It could seat fifty people with the wainscoting stained dark and upholstered spring green and gold cushions on the dark brown cypress pews, all situated beneath vaulted ceilings and exposed hand carded beams. A wooden baptismal font was given by the Paul Clisby Brewer family in 1899 – “To the Glory of God in Loving Memory” and in 1910, the Cadman family donated a pulpit in memory of Colonel William Edwin Cadman.
The building served the congregation until 1920, then sat dormant and neglected until about 1930. St. Luke’s in St. Cloud outgrew their building and a deal was made to move the little brown church from Narcoossee to 1007 Florida Avenue in St. Cloud. The two church structures would join as one and become The Church of St. Luke and St. Peter. A Rededication service was held on May 17, 1931.
The church made another move to Illinois Avenue and 10th Street in 1970, where it was joined with the old St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church building. Modifications were made to the structures, along with treatment for termites, and many additional repairs were made over the ensuing years. On January 13, 1980, The Church of St. Luke and St. Peter was admitted to full parish status and on October 21st, Harry H. Leventis was installed as the first rector.
In 1987, the church congregation once again experienced growing pains and began a search for property where they could relocate and build a new church building. A children’s day care agreed to lease the old buildings located on the corner of Illinois Ave. and 10th Street with the option to buy. The Church of St. Luke and St. Peter became a reality in 1990, on the Canoe Creek Road property they purchased. Kids Kastle Daycare Inc. is still in operation in the old church buildings on the corner of Illinois Avenue and 10th Street.
The original bell, baptismal font, pulpit and other furnishings are still in use at the church on Canoe Creek Road.
The Osceola County Historical Society has received a Cultural Facility Grant through the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs and will be replicating the original church built almost 120 years ago in Narcoossee. The replica church will be located at the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek and will be the newest addition to the Osceola County Historical Society’s historic structures.
Source: “In Giving, We Receive” by William Michael Grinnell, 1995
Photo Courtesy: Michael D. Bast Collection; OCHS, Cadman album