McPhetres: The man behind the name

Posted: Thursday, September 02, 2010

Mention McPhetres Hall to anyone who's lived here more than five years, and you'll likely inspire a happy memory: a theater performance, a dance, a birthday party, a rummage sale, a wedding reception. When the hall was destroyed in the 2006 fire that ravaged Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, many lamented the loss not just of the church itself, but of this hub of community activity.

As the new church nears completion, those both within and outside of Holy Trinity parish look forward to the reopening of McPhetres Hall, a spot that will once again provide a home base for Theatre in the Rough productions as well as all manner of community-wide events.

As familiar as McPhetres Hall is to locals, however, many don't know very much, if anything, about the man for whom the hall was named: Reverend Samuel A. McPhetres. A new book, "He Wore the Shoes of a Fisherman" compiled by the McPhetres family, aims to give Juneauites a better idea of this man, through the eyes of those who knew him.

McPhetres' sons, Sam and Stephen McPhetres, daughter, Johanna McPhetres Smith, and granddaughter, Amber Butler, gathered material for the book by asking people who knew Reverend McPhetres to write about their memories of him and share their photos. The entries, which range in time from 1948 to 1959, are included in the contributor's own words, and include personal memories about the Reverend and his impact on the parishioners and his strong positive presence in his neighborhood. The small, soft-cover book also includes a brief history of the church, first erected on the site in 1896, and the hall, attached in 1956 and renamed McPhetres in 1959 after the Reverend's unexpected death.

The name will remain McPhetres Hall in the new space, Smith said. All proceeds from the sales of the book will go toward finishing construction of the building; right now the expected completion date is March 2011.

Smith said the family is very appreciative of the support the community has given to Holy Trinity Church and the hall that bears her father's name.

To purchase a copy of "He Wore the Shoes of a Fisherman," visit Hearthside Books, the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Foodland Superdrug and the Holy Trinity church itself. It is also available online at and

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