St. John’s Episcopal Church

1889 to PresentSt. John's Episcopal Church


Known locally as the “Rock Church,” St. John’s Episcopal Church is located at 500 North Roan Street, between Myrtle Street and Fairview Avenue.


The first corporate Episcopal service in Johnson City was held on June 16, 1889. Sixteen people were present. Services were held originally in schools and stores until Lusk School became available. The Rev. Samuel Ringgold, Rector of St. John’s, Knoxville, TN held the first services.

The cornerstone for the original church was laid on September 7, 1905, which included the nave, bell tower and undercroft. The design is based on medieval English architecture and utilized readily available native river rock and limestone. The interior vaulted ceiling featured beaded and beveled oak beams. The original stained glass windows remain in place.

A parish hall, chapel, classrooms and kitchen were completed and dedicated in 1930. Designed by the local firm of Coile and Cardwell, this addition features medieval English design of stucco and half-timber and faces Fairview Avenue.

St. John's Episcopal Church

“The Rock Church”


Photo from a post card of the 1920s or 1930s

A second addition, completed in 1981, consisted of a narthex, offices and additional classrooms and was designed by the local firm of Abernethy and Robinson. At that time, the interior arrangement of the nave was reversed, with the altar now facing Myrtle Street. 

The most recent addition was completed and dedicated on November 10, 2001. Designed Interior of St. John's Episcopal Churchby the Memphis firm of Williamson Pounders, it features a large nave with seating for 350. Native river rock was used in the interior as basis for soaring arches. Celestory windows admit abundant natural light. Acoustical panels were designed and stenciled by Martha Cooper, wife of the rector at that time, the Rev. Frank M. Cooper, IV.

The altar, pulpit and baptismal font are constructed of wood from a large maple tree which stood in the church yard but had to be cut down at the time of construction.

Source: In the Footsteps of Faith: A Tour of 14 of Johnson City’s Century-old Churches, 2005. Posted 8 Oct 2005