Our Alice Belle Holabird Communion Table

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

Every Sunday during Candles of Community, we relate the joys and sorrows of our lives with a historic communion table as the backdrop. The table was created by Alice Belle Holabird as a tribute to her parents who were among the early members of our church. It was dedicated on Easter Sunday of 1880.

Alice carved the panels of the table out of a solid piece of oak. The center panel is decorated with the chalice surrounded by a floriated pattern, while the left and right front panels are full relief carvings dedicated to her parents. On the sides, the Byzantine Cross is carved in relief.

Miss Holabird studied art under Frank Duveneck and woodcarving under William Henry Fry, a nationally renowned carver from Cincinnati. Among his many works are the organ screen at Music Hall and a chest and sideboard made for the White House residency of Rutherford Hayes. Fry believed that women made much better wood carvers than men and his classes were attended by women who often helped with his many projects.

Alice eventually became heavily involved with the pottery movement in Cincinnati, decorating many pieces with her art work. Late in life, Alice recalled that one of her most cherished memories was attending her debutante ball where scores of young, newly commissioned officers danced before riding off to fight in the “Great War.” Alice never married and passed away in 1948 at the age of 107. She was thought to be the oldest resident of the city at the time of her death. Her mind and hands were still active, however, as she was knitting clothing to donate to the Red Cross just a few days before her passing. Perhaps Alice’s spirit helps guide the hands of our busy knitters during Sunday services.

Image: Side panel of our altar, originally carved as a communion table.