Beginning in 2007, Rural Studio was asked by the Cahawba Advisory Committee and the Alabama Historical Commission to deconstruct and relocate St. Luke’s Church. The over 150-year-old building was constructed in Old Cahawba, the first capital of Alabama, in 1854. Cahawba was a prosperous town in the state for a number of years, even after it was no longer the capital. After the Civil war, the town was subsequently abandoned and its desertion encouraged locals to relocate the church to Martin Station, 17 miles away.
The design of the church has been traced to Richard Upjohn’s “Rural Architecture,” which the unknown original builder is thought to have followed meticulously. The Rural Studio group of 2nd-year students began their intervention by documenting and disassembling the structure still in Martin Station. Originally, the church also included a square bell tower but it was not relocated in that initial transport. While some of the authentic timber had rotted, much of it was salvageable and used again in the reassembly. This included the heavy timber arches and an abundance of the vertical board and batten sheathing. The stately Gothic Revival church and its iconic lancet windows are now an integral attraction for the Old Cahawba Archaeological park. Phase one of the project involved documentation and deconstruction of the church.