Property Type: Institutional
Neighborhood: Downtown  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Greek/Byzantine Orthodox
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The architecture of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church of keeps with the history of Greek Orthodox Churches. The church was influenced by two forms of the Orthodox faith. Orthodoxy was brought from Russia and From the Middle East. The use of arches in both of these cultures helped to bring arches into the Greek Orthodox Church. The original members of the Parish were immigrants from Greece and the island of Crete. Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church were further influenced by the cultures of Romania, Serbia, Albania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Cyprus. All of these countries practiced Orthodoxy. The Church was built in the already existing North-End of Boise. Right next to the church (when it was built in 1951) was a Jewish church. In that time Jewish synagogue would stay close to Orthodox churches in order to create a sense of community among religions. Along with the Jewish synagogue next to it the Greek orthodox a fort named fort bannock was built to protect the people. The church was built right next to the Oregon Trail. Migrants often sought religion along the trail so Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church received a revival in Greek Orthodox faith. The area behind the church had a ticket booth for the railroad that used to run through Boise. This was a smart move by the church because it allowed the Greek Orthodox faith spread more easily.
The architecture of Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church is very closely tied to the Greek Orthodox faith. The front of the church is of typical Greek Orthodox architecture. This architecture is a mixture of Greek and Byzantine architecture. The cross found on top of the arch is distinct to the Greek Orthodox Faith. Crosses such as this denote a Catholic worship. The arches at the front of the building are also typical Greek churches. All Greek Orthodox churches in the Middle East- where the Orthodoxy began- have many arches and domes. Domes such as those found in the Red Square in Russia are an example of domes found on Russian Orthodox churches. The domes found in the Middle East also exemplify characteristics of these types of domes. When Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church was built in 1951, the donators were poor, so large, expensive domes were out of the budget. Instead, a sloped roof was put in. The windows of the church are standard windows for Greek Orthodox churches. The windows are rectangular and are topped with semi-circle stained glass with the Greek symbol of Jesus Christ in the stained glass. The outside walls are made to look like an adobe covering but are not really adobe. The back of the church near the roof has wood paneling, a characteristic not found on Greek Orthodox churches. Along with the front door there is one door that is on the left and right side of the church. The doors that are on the left and right side of the church both lead to the basement. The sides of the building have three plain, small columns on each side. Above the door, there is a picture of Jesus Christ in a typical Greek Orthodox style. This style is consistent of portraying the beautiful symbols from the Bible with a more natural look. To the left of Jesus are the Greek letters saying “I am”. To the right are the Greek letters saying “Jesus Christ”. This whole phrase reads “I am Jesus Christ.” The rear of the church has the look
The inside of the Church has more typical Greek Orthodox Church based architecture. The inside has many hanging lights, which are a characteristic of the Orthodox Church. These are oil lamps that hang off a wooden wall that blocks off a small portion of the building. In the wooden wall there is an arched doorway is in the middle of it. No one is allowed past the wall because it represents a person going to heaven. Along with the oil lamps that are hanging from this wall are pictures of scene from the New Testament, which the church follows. Only the priests can go into the space behind the wall. Behind the wall are three more arches recessed into the wall. The middle arch, which is the biggest arch, has a painting of Mary and Baby Jesus with open arms, symbolizing them beckoning one into Heaven- which behind the wall is considered to be. The arch in the middle of the wooden wall is also significant. The arch represents the arch Jesus went through to enter Heaven. Another piece of Byzantine architecture inside the church is a carving of a peacock. The peacock is a royal symbol because peacocks were always present in the king’s court and were highly revered. In the center of the ceiling, in the place of the domes in larger Greek Orthodox churches, there is a picture of Jesus like the picture above the door. This picture is the common depiction of the Lord Jesus in the Greek Orthodox Church. If Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church had a dome, the picture of Jesus would be replaced with paintings of angels and evangelical figures. Also the dome would have six windows that would let light into the church. The raised ceiling pieces that are around the picture of Jesus in the center of the ceiling serves no architectural purpose to the building but are merely for decoration. Along with having no architecture advantages the raised ceiling pieces are not found in other Greek Orthodox churches. If you walk in the front door and look to the right there is a stair case that leads down to the basement of the church. The stairs also have a chandelier hanging over it just as the just like the main room had one. The basement serves as a gathering area as well as a cafeteria. This is a plainly styled room with plain white walls that had six columns around the room. The columns were Greek in style because they had plain, smooth columns. The tops were decorated with Doric style. The Doric style is characterized by a plain, box-shaped cap on top of a plain column. On top of these columns there are three beams that go across the ceiling that supports the floor above.