Christ Church

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Prior to the existence of Christ Church, the first Episcopal congregation started in Longwood in 1877. The first baby baptized with that group is known to be Annie Rand on Easter in 1877.

The still existent Christ Church Episcopal was incorporated in 1879. The first building was a small log schoolhouse, located about a quarter mile on the property of Edward Henck, close to Magnolia Avenue and Freeman Street. It was used from 1879 through 1881.

The present building was erected in 1881. As such, it is the oldest continuous church in continuous operation in Seminole County. It is an oblong, gray frame building with art glass windows and a memorial bell. The land for the new building was donated by Longwood founder Edward W. Henck.

Only the center section of the church is original. On either side you can see where the roof line juts out at a less severe angle. This represents the sanctuary expansion that took place in 1964. In 1965 the classroom and office buildings were added to the right side of the property--known as Searcy Hall.

The building's rather simple and unadorned style is typical of many pioneer churches from the era. It is symmetrical with wood siding that is painted flat white. Originally the building was located 150 feet to the east, closer to the Inside-Outside House. However, it was moved over a tad in 1988 to make room for more church expansion. As a result it lines up perfectly in eyeshot down Wilma Street, meaning it can be clearly seen from Highway 434 as a keen landmark of the historic district.

The first vicar of the church was Reverend Lyman Phelps. The families of Frederic H. Rand and John Neill Searcy were among the founders of the church and served in its leadership for many decades. The Rand family donated the stained glass window above the altar, they were also some of the primary suppliers of capital for its original construction.

Some of the furniture and holy items inside the church date back to those original years around 1879-1881. An altar and lectern date back even earlier, they were given to the Longwood church after an 1880 hurricane badly damaged the Episcopal church in Sanford. The Sanford building was completely rebuilt, but some items were still in good repair and given to the new mission in Longwood.


Historic Photos

Early photo of Christ Church, showing its original size and front awning.

As seen in 1989 with the Longwood Historic District filing.