Old Northside Gem Gets Some TLC
On the Westside corner of 16th and Delaware Street, sits the oldest Church building in the Old Northside neighborhood. Built in 1901, the church building, which is now in the care of the Eastern Orthodox congregation of Joy of All Who Sorrow, has recently been the recipient of some careful cosmetic upkeep.
On the first of October, I met with the Church’s Rector, Father Stevan Bauman who was gracious enough to give the grand tour of Joy of all Who Sorrow. Upon meeting me on the porch of the St. Seraphim Bookstore, Father Stevan cordially invited me into the historic structure as I helped him carry in the day’s mail.
I followed the traditionally robed Orthodox Priest into the Church’s fellowship hall. He went on to explain that what is now the fellowship hall was once the original Sanctuary at the turn of the 20th century. Looking up the wall on the north side of the room, Father Stevan pointed out the old choir loft where Herron High School choir members stand to serenade the people who attend the Church’s Christmas Festival.
Father Stevan took me down the hallway as he flicked the light switches and we passed the threshold leading into the Church’s sanctuary which has housed a number of different congregations since the Church was built. Reverently the Father crossed himself then welcomed me to his house of worship where for the past few decades the congregation of Joy of All Who Sorrow has gathered multiple times a week. As Father Stevan and I talked in the sanctuary, he explained to me the vast array of symbolism that characterizes the Orthodox Christian faith. From the function of the iconostasis, to the venerating of icons, I found myself in awe of a faith with customs that have changed very little since the second century. Along the perimeter of the sanctuary the light resplendently danced into the room through stained glass windows of all colors, shapes, and sizes, all of which served to memorialize those who came before them.
After talking in the sanctuary for about an hour, Father Stevan took me outside to look at the masses of renovations that, after two solid years of work, are almost complete. From the outside, the proud steeple of the Church stood with freshly mortared red sandstone imported all the way from India. With over 800 bricks having been replaced, the historic building looked as if time had never touched it. Directing my attention the corner of the building, Father Steven pointed to a still vacant section of the structure that longed for masonry. A sort of stone box sat inside the hole exposed to the elements. He explained that inside the stone box was a cornerstone box (a time capsule) that had been placed securely in the structure over a century ago by the original congregation. Excitedly, he told me that soon the box will be removed, and the contents will be displayed for all to see!
My time with the Father ended all too soon. After inviting me to attend Thursday night Vespers, he gave me a hearty handshake paired with a genuine “God bless you” and I made my way back to the City Gallery reflecting on my time in Joy of All Who Sorrow.
If you get the chance to stop by, or maybe next time you’re heading north on Delaware, be sure to take in the history of the beautiful Church building that now houses the Joy of All Who Sorrow. Imagine how the historic building has seen the city change around its block in the past century, and know that our window of time here in Indy is just one scene in its larger story.