The small church on the "Promenade" is a special feature in Davos. The whole area was named "The English Quarter" after it and its history is closely linked with the development of Davos as a convalescent town.
On September the 20th. 1878 Mr.Christian and Kaspar Boul from the hotel Buol (the present Carlton House) donated a piece of land to the small English congregation. The donation is registered with the land registry in Davos Platz.
The architect, W.Barber from London, drew the plans for the church and the well-known contractor, Gaudenz Issler, who was later to become Mayor of Davos, oversaw the building construction. Construction costs were estimated at 3.000 Sterling.
A building committee made a great effort to solicit the needed funds for the new building.
A special event was reported in the newspaper "Davoser Blätter" on January 28, 1882. A series of photographs depicted the laying of the foundation ceremony of the new church on January 25, 1882. The site was colourfully decorated with national flags from the UK, USA, Switzerland, Germany and many other nations. The sun, shining from a deep blue sky, was so hot the people who took part in the ceremony had to use umbrellas.
Bristish MP Evelyn Ashley conducted the laying of the foundation ceremony and declared the building stone as "well and truly laid".
Opening / Dedication
Easter Sunday, 25 March 1883 was the much longed for day when the church opened its doors and the first service took place. However, it was not until six months later that the church was officially dedicated to the service of the Almighty God.
On 3 September 1883 the Right Reverend Dr. Hellmut, Bishop of Huron, Canada, travelled over the Flüela pass to Davos. The day before he had conducted the opening ceremony of the new English church in Tarasp.
Apart from the English congregation and guests from many nations there were also local physicians and church ministers present when the bishop dedicated "St.Luke’s" in an official ceremony.
No wonder the newly errected church was named after "Luke, the beloved physician" since most of the congregation consisted of patients suffering from tubercolosis.
Gratitude for healing or memories of a loved one who had died prompted many to donate monetary gifts to the church, thus making it possible to upgrade the building in the following years:
- appropriate heating was installed
- Sir Addington Symonds donated the richly ornamented pulpit
- three stained-glass windows were donated
- a great asset was the new Willis (of London) organ which needed more room than the old one, so necessitating the building of a new vestry
During many decades - through two world wars and other times of suffering – the English church has been a place where many nationalities met and many who mourned and wept found consolation an encouragement.
Problems and a new future
Unfortunately, it appeared that the "Commonwealth and Continental Church Society" in London had to fight with financial difficulties. The former huge English colony in Davos had dwindled to a small group.
Extensive costly renovations of the building became more and more urgent. What should happen? Selling? Pulling down? It came very close to that. In February 1977 the pulling down of the old building and the new building of a modern block of houses was discussed in public development scheme.
It must be allowed to say that a storm of indignation broke out in the territory of Davos. With a collection of signatures and many petitions to the Davos’ local newspaper people fought against that plan.
Finally, the canton Grisons enacted against the demolition. But for what use should the Lord’s house be assigned for in the future?
A meeting point for visitors, a library, or even a discotheque?
In the year 1979 the "Swiss Federation of Free Protestant Churches" bought the English Church; therewith the future of the "Old English Church" was secured. The church could be used for what it was built for more than 100 years ago. Worships and concerts take place regularly.
Since the taking over the Free Protestant Church Davos has made great efforts and has renovated the church to a great extent.
Under the supervision of the canton Heritage the heating was renovated, the building was roofed with new tiles and the frames of the ceiling was lighted bottom-up. The turret received a new shingle roof and in front of the church a small forecourt was built. The candelabra look like real old English gas lamps.
Finally, in summer 2000 the organ was renovated thanks to a generous donation.