National Register of Historic Places in El Dorado County
The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour is the only church in El Dorado County which has been in continuous use as a house of worship since its construction. The cornerstone was laid on June 22, 1865 just two months after the end of the Civil War, and the church was opened to the public on December 23, 1865. It has remained open ever since.
The church is Gothic Revival, the favored style for churches built in the Mother Lode from 1850 to 1890. The architect has a real understanding of the Gothic elements that were used in the original Gothic cathedrals in Europe, but not having the European materials available to him, he used the local timber supply to create the Gothic effect.
With the timber he produced a light and delicate vaulted roof. The shape of a vaulted roof was created by using scissor trusses with a long top cord. By doing this he created the form of the vaulted roof and in order to provide a continuous appearance to the roof, he placed the trusses at three feet on center. To support the trusses, a second wall was built abcut three inside the exterior wall which gave the tall windows the appearance of being openings in a thick stone wall. The trusses are brought together at the apex to form a quadraplate vaulted roof over the Sanctuary.
It is our understanding that this type of roof construction was used in churches in the United States only in New England and the California Mother Lode.
William Patton, the architect, was an authority on Anglican Church Architecture and a leading architect of his day in California.
Patton was born in England in 1821 and took his apprenticeship in architecture there. He sailed around the Horn to San Francisco in the early days of the Gold Rush and spent several years in the Mother Lode after which he moved to San Francisco where he opened an architectural office.
Patton designed many prominent buildings in Alameda and San Francisco, including parts of the San Francisco City Hall for which he was Supervising Architect. He had moved to San Francisco by the time he designed Church of Our Saviour.
Adapted from the NRHP nomination.