The Souvenir of Western Women/St. Peter's Church and Its Ivy-Clad Tower
St. Peter's Church and its Ivy – Clad Tower
By ELIZABETH McCARVER HARRIS
ST. PETER'S CHURCH in Tacoma had its beginning thirty years ago, in midsummer of 1873. Tacoma was then a town of 200 people. The support of the church was derived almost entirely from the sawmill and the ships and logging camps connected with it. Washington then was included within Oregon in one diocese. Right Rev. B. Wistar Morris was bishop. Zealous for the church and confident of the great destiny of Tacoma, he was soon on the ground. He secured the lot since occupied by the church from Mr. Edward S. Smith, and assigned to the new field the Rev. Charles R. Bonnell, for some time prior of Salem. The necessary lumber and other material were obtained and men put to work building the church. The Protestant Episeopals were brought together and organized, the first board of vestry being Messrs. George E. Atkinson, C. H. Botsford, T. Pitt Cooke and Charles Prosch. The house was quickly finished, plain, unplastered and unpainted, at a cost of $300. Its furnishings, meager and economical, accorded with the style and manner of the building. August 10 the services of God began within its walls, directed by Mr. Bonnell and participated in by an interested congregation.
At the suggestion of Mr. Charles B. Wright, the Rev. Mr. Davies, now bishop of the diocese of Philadelphia, who was then the rector of St. Peter's Church, of Philadelphia, laid before St. Peter's Sunday School of that city the advisability of presenting a bell to St. Peter's, the pioneer church of Tacoma. Sufficient money was at once subscribed by the members of the Sunday school, the bell purchased and shipped by the way of Cape Horn and was received here at Tacoma October 12, 1874, making necessary a tower. This was soon provided by the chopping off of a large tree standing close to the front of the building. There, forty-eight feet above ground, the bell was placed upon a tower erected by the hand of nature and estimated to be more than 300 years old, and was rung the first time for church services by Captain John H. Smith, of the United States Navy, October 18, 1874. And there it is now, announcing in clear and ringing tones the services and calling to them, the congregation.
Planting of the Ivy.—Ivy was planted by Mrs. Jane A. Walters and other church women at the foot of the stump, or tower, which has since grown to the very top and covered every inch of the surface, the chief credit of which belongs to Mrs. Walters, who not only planted the ivy, but watered and cared for it until it had gotten sufficient start to take care of itself. This 300-year-old tower is, as all know, one of the features of Tacoma most interesting to tourists, and one in which our own citizens take much pride.
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