Church History

On February 12, 1850, an Anglican group was incorporated at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Harrodsburg. The cornerstone was laid on April 17, 1860, the church was dedicated May 15, 1861, and the first service was held September 12, 1861.

Design and construction were supervised by the Right Reverend Benjamin Bosworth Smith, first Bishop of Kentucky. Bishop Smith carved a wooden model, including the furniture, to be used as a "blueprint" for the building, patterned after a small church in England that he had attended as a boy. In addition to the model, Bishop Smith carved the freestanding altar, three ecclesiastical chairs and the communion rail in the church itself. In addition to these hand carved pieces, St. Philip's has other notable interior features including a baptismal font of fine, old china and leaded stained glass windows (with etching) of probable European import. These were the first stained glass windows in any building in Harrodsburg.


A young lieutenant under command of General Leonidas Polk saved the church from damage during the Civil War. On October 9, 1862, the day after the Battle of Perryville, General Polk, known as the Fighting Bishop of the Confederacy, retreated with his beleaguered troops to Harrodsburg, where he saw the church doors standing open. He entered and asked that the bell be tolled. Then he prayed for the men on both sides, "friend and foe alike." An historical marker adjacent to the church commemorates this event.

The essential character of the 150 year-old church building has been carefully preserved. St. Philip's was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites in 1978. Even though our numbers have never been great, we are an energetic congregation. This is shown by the major restorations to the church in 1983 and 1999. The building was stabilized, air conditioning added, a new copper roof installed, and the windows, walls and brick exterior were repaired. These repairs and improvements were accomplished with generous donations from the members and friends of St. Philip's. We have recently overhauled the heating plant, made improvements to the copper roof, and repainted sections of the interior.


The St. Philip's Parish House is adjacent to the church. Before being acquired by St. Philip's it was used by a medical practice. We have conducted extensive renovations to the Parish House recently to provide better facilities for Christian education, fellowship, and administrative functions. Since 2001 we have created three new classrooms, a Christian education office, and a clergy office, upgraded the existing church office, and renovated our general meeting room. Central air conditioning and a new heating system have been installed and the insulation and electrical systems have been upgraded. Preliminary plans are being developed to renovate the existing kitchen facilities.

A Prayer for Service

Almighty God, assist us to see your vision of the growth and vitality of St. Philip's. Help us to reach those who do not know your saving grace. Deepen our commitment; increase our faith and trust, that we may live as witnesses to you. May the Holy Spirit lead us to the service you would have us do, as servants of Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.

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