Our church began with the dedication of the Red Dragon Club House on July 14, 1908 in festivities attended by Bishop Peter Trimble Rowe, Red Dragon founder the Rev. E. P. Newton, railroad workers, and Chief Joseph and 24 Natives of Eyak Village. The Red Dragon was a reading room, complete with a fireplace, piano, and pool table open 7 days a week, an alternative to the bars and brothels that were commonplace during the building of the Copper River Railroad. On Sundays, an altar and chairs were set up for church services.
Rev. Eustace P. Ziegler arrived in Cordova in 1909 as a lay worker to run the Red Dragon and also lead services in Cordova and along the railroad line. In addition to church, activities at the Red Dragon included dances and boxing matches. It was Rev. Ziegler who designed the St. George’s Church building which was consecrated on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1919. Rev. Ziegler left Cordova in 1924 to devote full-time to his artwork. He returned to Alaska each summer for decades and his paintings and sketches are featured in various museums in Alaska and Washington.
In 1959, Ziegler sent a heartfelt letter to The Cordova Times (see below), expressing his love of Cordova and appreciation for his time working at the Red Dragon and St. George’s: “… I wish I were as rich and prosperous now as I was at that time. . . living in the Red Dragon and a tent beside it. The Red Dragon and Cordova paid me more than I can express.”
Each time we go into the church, we are thankful for all those who have helped keep St. George’s going throughout the years. More about our history is available at www.reddragoncordova.org
The Red Dragon now serves as our parish hall—and the “town’s living room.” It is available for meetings, birthday parties, overnight stays, dinners, and other church and community events.