St. Raphael’s Church has been operating on Fort Myers Beach for over 60 years. In 1951, Rev. Richard Brown from St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Fort Myers held services in the Community Hall. By 1952, Rev. Hull was hired as the vicar of the newly formed mission known as St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church. The church services moved from the Community Hall to an offfice in the Estero Manufacturing building.
The small but determined congregation borrowed $5,000 from the Diocese to construct a church on the island. About 200 parishioners donated the rest of the money for the purchase of the property on Williams Drive and to construct the church.
The church was designed and the building supervised by Cyril Shawcross. Built of local coquina shells and limestone, Shawcross and Rhett Smith laid the bricks and completed the building by 1953.
Later, in the 1960s, a rectory and parish hall were added to the campus.
Hurricane Ian Updates
On September 28, 2022, Fort Myer Beach was hit by a Category 5 hurricane, damaging over 90 percent of the buildings on the island. St. Raphael’s was not spared Ian’s wrath although we did make out better than many of the other churches on the island.
All three of our buildings survived and were found to be structually sound. Unfortunately, the storm surge of seven to ten feet completely destroyed everything that was inside of the buildings. All buildings have been cleaned out and remediated for mold. The roofs have been replaced, and the permits have been approved for the parish hall and the rectory. Work on the interior of these buildings began February 13.
In the meantime, we have been holding weekly services since last summer. We began worshipping outdoors at the Colobarium. When it got really warm, we were allowed to meet in the convention room at Diamondhead. Recently, we purchased a tent and are now holding all services on our own campus.