A Brief History
The history of St. Gabrielís and the histories of Titusville and North Brevard are hard to separate. The cityís founder Colonel Henry Titus, himself, was an Episcopalian. As early as 1869, he was approached by a representative of the Bishop of Florida regarding the possibility of erecting a church. Two years later when the Bishop visited, some 50 people attended a service held in Titusís dining room. Still, constructing a church did not seem feasible until after1886, by then, more settlers had arrived, including Episcopal families, bearing such names as Brady, Parkinson, Pritchard, Robbins, Scobie, Stewart, Wager, and Wilson.
In the autumn of 1887, on land donated by Mrs. Mary Titus, widow of Col. Henry Titus and with a building fund bolstered by a significant donation made by Mrs. Lucy A. Boardman, a resident of New Haven, Connecticut, and a winter visitor to Sanford, area Episcopalians began the preliminary work, clearing the land, securing plans, and gathering material for a church to be called St. Johnís. It was built the following spring. For its first service, ďthe building was filled to overflowing.Ē (Florida Star, June 7, 1888)
St. Johnís, however, was an unpainted, bare-bones structure. Tarpaulins hung at the window openings, rather than windows; orange crates served for seating, rather than pews. But in August, the church acquired an organ; in November, it added pews. By then, word had been received that Mrs. J. N. Pritchard of New York, mother local resident Captain James Pritchard, was to give three memorial windows-- the largest picturing St. Gabriel--prompting the congregation to change the churchís name from St. Johnís to St. Gabrielís. These Pritchard windows are behind the altar and thus dominate the church.
Another group of five windows is at the back of St. Gabrielís. The most prominent features a lighthouse and was given by Mills O. Burnhamís children and grandchildren in his memory. Burnham was Keeper of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse for 36 years. Twelve additional stained glass windows grace the church. Most are memorial windows, placed in the 1890ís. The bell was installed in the belfry in 1892.
Seventy years later, when the church was enlarged, more than doubling its original capacity of 100, great pain was taken to preserve its architectural integrity. This effort was rewarded, in 1973, when St. Gabrielís was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here stands St. Gabrielís Episcopal Church at the corner of Pine and Palm, where it has stood since the spring of 1888, serving this community for nearly 125 consecutive years.