St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Baltimore, Maryland)

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St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church
St Pauls Baltimore.JPG
Old St. Paul's Church, March 2012
St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Baltimore, Maryland) is located in Baltimore
St. Paul's Episcopal Church (Baltimore, Maryland)
Location 233 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates 39°17′31″N 76°36′54″W / 39.29194°N 76.61500°W / 39.29194; -76.61500Coordinates: 39°17′31″N 76°36′54″W / 39.29194°N 76.61500°W / 39.29194; -76.61500
Built 1854
Architect Upjohn, Richard
Architectural style Basilica style
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference #


Added to NRHP March 30, 1973

St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, more commonly called Old St. Paul's Church today, is a historic Episcopal church located at 233 North Charles Street in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It was founded in 1692 as the parish church for Patapsco Parish, one of the original 30 parishes in colonial Maryland.[2]


St. Paul's was founded in 1692 under the Establishment Act, by the General Assembly of Maryland under Lionel Copley, then Governor of Maryland, which created 30 "Protestant" (Anglican) parishes in the colony of Maryland. The first church as "Patapsco Parish" was located somewhere along near the head of Colgate Creek, on the "Patapsco Neck" peninsula which juts into the Chesapeake Bay at North Point and Sparrows Point between the Patapsco River to the south and Back River (Maryland) to the north. Modern-day Highlandtown and Canton in southeastern Baltimore City and Dundalk, Edgemere, and Fort Howard are in suburban southeastern Baltimore County communities there now. When Baltimore Town was founded in its present location in 1729, the parish moved to "Lot 19," in the Original Survey" of 1730 at the highest point just inside the original town boundaries purchased from Charles Carroll of Carrollton, where a small brick church, (facing south towards the harbor), a rectory and some cemetery plots were placed in 1739 on a cliff overlooking the Jones Falls stream to the east and northwest of the original Courthouse Square (later Battle Monument Square) at North Calvert between East Lexington and Fayette Streets. The present church is located on a portion of that property, in the northwest corner.

A second brick church, also facing south towards "The Basin" (Inner Harbor) was constructed of brick and completed in 1784 and consecrated by Bishop Thomas John Claggett, first Bishop of Maryland (consecrated/ordained 1792) in 1797 and endured until 1812 when replaced by the Long-designed edifice. It continued to use the former steeple of the first church building as a private prayer chapel in the middle of the surrounding cemetery, which was later relocated in 1800 to the western side of town at West Lombard and Fremont Street (near the present Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard).

All Episcopal parishes in Baltimore City and many in Baltimore County are in some way traced to Old St. Paul's. The first "daughter" congregation, Christ Church (closed 1986), was created in 1796 near the present day War Memorial/City Hall Plaza at the southeast corner of South Gay and East Fayette Streets. Another congregation, St. Peter's, was created in an evangelical controversy split from Old St. Paul's in 1801 during the rectorate of Dr. Joseph Bend; that congregation is today known as Grace and St. Peter's Church, presently located at Park Avenue and West Monument Street, two blocks west of the Washington Monument, across the street from the former Diocesan House (bishop's and administrative staff offices) and has now, ironically, evolved into a high church Anglo-Catholic parish, with a very well-regarded co-educational private day school.

The third building in Baltimore (and fourth of the parish) erected for St. Paul's was designed by noted Baltimore architect Robert Cary Long, Jr. and constructed in 1812 (some sources say 1814-1817). This neo-classical structure faced towards the west on Charles Street, seated 1,600 people in the main level and galleries and was graced with a 126 foot high spire. The three orders of Greek columns adorned the building. It was destroyed by fire in 1854; the cross that fell from that tower now adorns the old Church Home Hospital on Broadway in Baltimore. The fourth church was completed two years later.

The 1856 building reflected the growing influence of the Oxford Movement in the Episcopal Church. Richard Upjohn's design for the new building invoked not the democratic values of the Federal Period but the Catholicism of Italy, which he had recently toured. He also had just designed the famous Gothic Trinity Church on Wall Street in lower New York City Since the existing walls of St. Paul's did not allow for the pointed-gothic design preferred by the Ecclesiological Society, Upjohn patterned the building after the Basilica of San Giorgio in Rome. The side galleries so important to preaching were not rebuilt, and focus in the building was dramatically pointed to the altar with a spacious (for the time) chancel.

Thus the "high church" position that St. Paul's had occupied since the rectorate of Dr. Bend became more pronounced, especially under the rectorate of Dr. William Wyatt, who oversaw the construction of the new building and the creation of a number of Anglo-Catholic mission parishes around Baltimore City, most notably Mount Calvary Church. His successor, Rev'd. Milo Mahan, introduced candles on the altar and seasonal liturgical colors. The Rev. John Sebastian Bach Hodges, who led the parish for 35 years until 1905, replaced a paid quartet with the "Choir of Men and Boys", which still sings at the 11 a.m. Sunday service. In 2002, a Choir of Girls was created during the rectorship of Rev. David Cobb.

Two rectors of Old St. Paul's have gone on to become bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland: The Right Rev. James Kemp (1764-1827) and the Right Rev. Harry Lee Doll, (1903-1984).

Architecture and Design[edit]

The present church was designed by renowned architect Richard Upjohn, with an eclectic juxtaposition of 12th-century Italian elements on the exterior and Romanesque elements on the interior. The exterior facade features two bas-reliefs of Christ and Moses, executed by the Italian sculptor Antonio Capellano (who also sculpted the statue on the top of the Battle Monument) that were originally part of the façade of the previous Robert Cary Long church. Other elements from the 1817 structure include the walls of the Federal period building, a stained glass window of the risen Christ over the entrance, a marble baptismal font designed by Maximilian Godefroy (who also designed the Battle Monument and the First Unitarian Church), and the Bishop’s chair given to St. Paul’s in 1815.

The church was given a relatively dark Victorian appearance when opened. The Greek columns were painted a sandstone orange, with an elaborate color scheme of brown, red, and yellow ochres dominating the rest of the nave. The chancel was dominated by a black walnut reredos. A small stained-glass window of St. Paul stood above the high altar. English Minton tiles adorned the aisles and chancel that complimented the color scheme of the church. An anonymous painting of this interior is still in the possession of the parish.

In 1903, the chancel was renovated to a brighter appearance, in accordance with the tastes of the period. The reredos was moved to the back of the church (where it still stands as a memorial wall), and a new Tiffany reredos was installed with a completely new design for the east wall, including a large window by Helen Maitland Armstrong was installed above the altar, with the St. Paul window moved to the south aisle. The ochres of the 1850s gave way to white faux blocks etched into the nave.

The oldest of the aisle windows date to 1890, but most were installed at the same time as the chancel redecoration. The designers include Tiffany Studios of New York City and Clayton & Bell Studios.

In the 1930s, the faux blocking was removed, leaving only tracery around the windows. The chancel was renovated for cleaning and maintenance in the 1990s. In the summer of 2013, the interior of the church underwent a historic restoration that included painting the nave and adding a blue field with gold stars to the ceiling. The Rev. Mark A. Stanley, Rector, raised 100% of the money to pay for this project by soliciting donations from church members.

Noted members[edit]

Prominent members of the parish include Samuel Chase, John Eager Howard, and Thomas Johnson, and William Donald Schaefer (mayor of Baltimore and governor, comptroller of Maryland).[3]

Historic designations[edit]

St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.[1] It is included within the Cathedral Hill Historic District and the Baltimore National Heritage Area.[4]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ Middleton, the Rev. Canon Arthur Pierce, Ph.D., Anglican Maryland, 1692-1792, Virginia Beach: The Donning Company, 1992, 5 63-103, ISBN 0-89865-841-1
  3. ^ "Maryland Historical Trust". St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, Baltimore City. Maryland Historical Trust. 2008-11-21. 
  4. ^ "Baltimore National Heritage Area Map". City of Baltimore. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 

External links[edit]