The Centennial Celebration Committee is planning an event for Feb. 1st, 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of the current St. Paul's Church building, the 4th on the same site. To stimulate interest in our history, the committee is running a series of history questions and answers in The Epistle.
May 3, 2019
Q: What role did the wife and widow of prominent Key West founder, William Fleming, play in establishing St. Paul's and what strings were attached?
A: Mary Rotch, by then re-married, gave the current lot to the newly established St Paul’s Parish in 1838 with the proviso that the pews be free - no family owned pews as was common at the time. She also stipulated that her deceased husband's remains, which had by then been buried on the property, were to be undisturbed on the grounds forever. Their location is unknown.
April 26, 2019
Q: When and where was the first service held by the first rector, Rev. Sanson K. Brunot?
A: Two days after his Dec 23rd arrival in Key West, Rev. Brunot held the first service, Christmas Day, 1832. As there was no church, the service was held at the County Courthouse on Jackson Square. That same day the congregation signed an “Act of Association” of the Episcopal Congregation in Key West to be called St. Paul’s Church.
April 19, 2019
Q: Who was the first rector of St. Paul's and what is his sad story?
A: The Reverend Sanson K. Brunot of Pittsburgh, PA was the first rector. He arrived in Key West December 23rd and soon became the house guest of vestryman William Whitehead as there was no rectory or church building. He was only 24 years old and had not been long in ministry. His services were well attended, and he was generally well liked. He had accepted the call to Key West largely on account of his ill health, hoping the climate would lead to an improvement. Unfortunately, Rev. Brunot's health soon began to fail and after officiating only a few times, frequent hemorrhages put a stop to further public services. Feeling that his end was approaching and desiring to pass his last days in his old home, he left Key West for Pittsburgh in May, 1833 and died there soon after his arrival.
April 12, 2019
Q: When and how was St. Paul's Episcopal Church founded?
A: It was established by an act of the Town of Key West Council in 1831. At that time there was no church property much less a structure, a pastor or priest, or even a congregation. In fact, there were no churches at all in Key West of any denomination.