A Look at the Architecture of St. John’s Church
The original plans for the church building were for a much larger and more elaborate structure. The present church is housed in what was supposed to be the church basement, presumably designed to serve as a parish hall. The church proper was supposed to be a second story, which was never started.
From the outside, the church building presents a modest appearance. It is a simple rectangular structure made of random local stone with a peaked metal roof. The gables at each end are covered in “fish-scale” shingles. There is no steeple, no bell tower (although there was a rude wooden one in the early years which looked a bit like a mine shaft hoist). There is a very simple cross at the east end of the roof.
There is a story that when the crude, wooden bell tower was removed, the bell of the church fell off of the conveyance on the rough road, and was damaged. However, the original bell now resides at St.Barnabas Church in Cortez, where it is rung regularly to announce the commencement of worship services. Along the north stone wall of the church are planted native columbine and bachelor buttons. Daisy, poppies, and iris grow on the sunny northeast corner. There are several ornamental trees on the church grounds as well.
Visitors are sometimes startled, upon entering this building, at the beauty of the church interior. The sanctuary is bounded by a hand-carved oaken wood screen. The pulpit is also hand-carved oak, as is the altar. The two side cabinets are stained to resemble oak. The ceiling is finished in a herringbone pattern of parallel wooden slats. The pews are oak originals, with carved ends.
On the altar, there is a large, ornate, brass cross approximately three feet high. At the bottom, it’s inscription reads: “In Memory of Ernestine Sperber Wright. Born April 18, 1861. Died January 15, 1879.” One wonders whether this young woman of eighteen years died in childbirth, as so many pioneer woman did. There is no burial record for her at the Cedar Hill Cemetery, so she must have been taken back home, wherever that may have been. To the left of the altar is an old pump organ, still used for worship services today.
At the narthex of the church is a lovely white marble baptismal font. Since baptism recognizes the formal entrance of the individual into the Body of Christ, the font is symbolically placed at the entrance to the church edifice itself.