St. Stephen’s opened its doors for services in 1863 with just a few families. Separate Episcopal schools for boys and girls (now Oregon Episcopal School) were opened adjacent to the church. Needing room to expand, the St. Stephen’s building was moved using horses and sledges in 1870.
St. Stephen’s Chapel was the second Episcopal church established in the growing city of Portland. It was built on what is now the site of City Hall by the Reverend Thomas Fielding Scott nine years after he was elected Bishop of the Missionary District of Oregon and Washington. July 14 is designated on our calendar as Thomas Fielding Scott Day commemorating the date of his death.
St. Stephen’s grew and prospered. A newly built chapel and school were consecrated by Bishop Benjamin Wistar Morris in June 1882 with the mission to “aid in the culture of the spirit of the true reverence in both young and old…and carry on the blessed work of preaching the Gospel and gathering the wanderer and stranger into the fold of Christ”.
In 1890 St. Stephen’s Chapel was moved again to its present location at the corner of 13th and Clay to allow growth for the school which now had 132 pupils. By 1915, St. Stephen’s Cathedral had 421 communicants and had established missions, outreach to the city’s poor, support for Chinese immigrants and a mission for African-American Episcopalians.
Arson fire in 1924 destroyed the pro-cathedral and parish house. Only the historic Lady Chapel and the Sacristy from St. Stephen’s pioneer days were spared. St. Stephen’s was rebuilt as it is now in 1925, incorporating the Lady Chapel and a new organ.
Please enjoy the gallery below, which includes photographs of the historic Lady Chapel, as well as the new church and organ.