Polish Cathedral style

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The Altar, Side Altars, and Nave of St. Casimir Church in Cleveland, Ohio on March 13, 2016 following Cleveland Mass Mob XX

The Polish Cathedral architectural style is a North American genre of Catholic church architecture found throughout the Great Lakes and Middle Atlantic regions as well as in parts of New England.[1] These monumentally grand churches are not necessarily cathedrals, defined as seats of bishops or of their dioceses.

Polish Cathedral churches generally have large amounts of ornamentation in the exterior and interior, comparable only to the more famous Churrigueresque or Spanish Baroque style.[2] The decorations used reflect the tastes of the Polish immigrants to these regions in both the symbols and statuary of saints prominently displayed throughout. Additionally there is a heavy proclivity towards ornamentation drawn from the Renaissance and Baroque periods as well as modeling designs after famous churches in Poland.[3] The claim of different 'architectural styles' of Europe ascribed to these churches is misleading, as most of them are already labeled by art historians as examples of Eclecticism and Historicism, characterized by the various Architectural Revivals found in styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These churches exhibit a mixture of architectural traits from numerous past eras characteristic of Europe and the Americas.

A unique synthesis[edit]

The Main and Side altars of The Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus Cleveland, Ohio

Skerrett says Polish churches surpassed other immigrants’ churches in size. Their style promoted the immigrants' vision of Polish identity.[4]

Kantowicz writes in The Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith: "The preference of the Polish League for Renaissance and Baroque forms seems more clear cut. The glory days of the Polish Commonwealth came in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when it formed the largest state in Europe… The architectural style of Chicago's Polish churches in Chicago reflect this, particularly the magnificent edifices of Worthmann and Steinbach built along Milwaukee Avenue on the Northwest Side, reflected the renaissance glory of Polish Catholicism".

Peter Williams in his book Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States on p. 179 writes,"[I]n Detroit and Chicago especially, a distinctive genre of church building emerged among Polish communities, the "Polish Cathedral." Where most Catholic churches were built in grander or humbler variations and Gothic and Romanesque themes popular across the country, the ambitious prelates in the Great Lakes Polonias often chose to make monumental statements in the Renaissance style of their mother country. The scale of these structures was often enormous, both in the great size of these parishes and the episcopal ambitions of their clerical leaders… Still visible from the freeways, many of these "cathedrals" such as St. Stanislaus Kostka in Chicago now serve African-American or Latino constituencies while others have been closed by their Archbishops as no longer economically viable.

The churches are major tourist attractions in Chicago, with tours devoted exclusively to them.[5][6] In May 1980 the Chicago Architecture Foundation's ArchiCenter held an exhibit on these treasures titled Chicago's Polish Churches.

These ornate temples were largely built by the working poor in these regions in the era spanning the period from the end of the American Civil War until the end of World War II.[7][8]

Criticism[edit]

Many of Chicago's Protestant elites criticized these stylistically grand churches as "ostentatious" in comparison with the "plainer" style in vogue for Protestant houses of worship.[9] Catholic hierarchs such as John Lancaster Spalding, the first Bishop of Peoria, responded by comparing the churches that the immigrants financed to the pyramids of Egypt that were built by slaves.[9]

The need for identity was evident in the unique architecture of the Polish Cathedral Style. It was often associated with the religious order of the Congregation of the Resurrection, in addition to the architectural styles of the Renaissance and Baroque periods.[10][11] Both in scale and scope, these edifices were attempts to contradict the marginal status of Polish immigrants in society. As a stateless people whose culture was systematically attacked in its homeland during the years of partition, they also had a low economic rank in the industrial centers to which they had immigrated at the turn of the century.[12] The construction of these churches greatly influenced the development of neighborhoods that surrounded them. World views that the Polish immigrants from the Old World retained, and their creative assimilation into the New World, shaped the landscape of the rapidly growing industrial regions to which they immigrated.[13]

List of churches built in the Polish Cathedral Style[edit]

Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in the City of Chicago, Illinois
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Adalbert Lower West Side Neoclassical
2. Church of St. Barbara Bridgeport Renaissance
3. Covenant Presbyterian Church of Chicago (formerly All Saints Polish National Catholic Cathedral) Bucktown Gothic
4. Church of St. Hedwig Bucktown Renaissance Revival
5. Church of the Holy Innocents West Town Romanesque with Byzantine flourishes
6. Church of the Holy Trinity West Town Renaissance
7. Basilica of St. Hyacinth Avondale Renaissance
8. Church of the Immaculate Conception South Chicago Renaissance
9. Church of Our Lady of Tepeyac (formerly Church of St. Casimir) Lower West Side Baroque
10. Church of St. John Cantius West Town Baroque
11. Church of St. John of God (closed in 1992) Back of the Yards Baroque
12. Church of St. Joseph (Shrine) Back of the Yards Baroque
13. Church of St. Josaphat Lincoln Park Romanesque
14. Church of St. Mary of the Angels Bucktown Neoclassical
15. Church of St. Mary of Perpetual Help Bridgeport Romanesque-Byzantine
16. Church of St. Michael the Archangel South Chicago Gothic
17. Salem Baptist Church of Chicago (formerly Church of St. Salomea) Pullman Gothic
18. Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka West Town Renaissance
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in the suburbs of the City of Chicago
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Andrew Calumet City Renaissance
2. Church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Lemont Renaissance
3. Church of St. Mary of Częstochowa Cicero Gothic
Outside Chicago
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Detroit, Michigan
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Wyandotte Renaissance
2. Church of St. Florian Hamtramck Gothic
3. Promise Land Missionary Baptist Church (formerly Church of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr) East Side Romanesque
4. The Polish-American Historical Site Association (formerly Church of St. Albertus) East Side, Canfield Avenue Gothic Revival
5. Church of the Sweetest Heart of Mary East Side, Canfield Avenue Gothic Revival
6. Church of St. Francis of Assisi Southwest Side Italian Renaissance
7. Church of St. Hyacinth East Side Byzantine Romanesque
8. Church of St. Hedwig Southwest Side
9. Church of St. Casimir (demolished in 1967; the twin of the Church of St. Mary of Perpetual Help in Chicago, Illinois) Southwest Side Romanesque Byzantine
10. Church of St. John Cantius (closed in 2009) Delray Romanesque
11. Church of St. Josaphat East Side, Canfield Avenue Romanesque and Gothic Revival
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Basilica of St. Adalbert Grand Rapids Romanesque with Byzantine influence
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Bay City, Michigan
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka South side Gothic Revival
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Cleveland, Ohio
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus Slavic Village Gothic architecture
2. Church of St. Casimir St. Clair-Superior Romanesque
3. Church of St. John Cantius Tremont Baroque and Art Deco
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Stanislaus South Side Renaissance
2. Church of St. Adalbert South Side Romanesque Revival
3. Basilica of St. Josaphat South Side Baroque
4. Church of St. Casimir Riverwest Baroque
5. Church of St. Vincent de Paul South Side Romanesque
6. Church of St. Hedwig South Side Romanesque, Gothic
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka Strip District Romanesque
2. Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Polish Hill Baroque
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. John Cantius Bridesburg Gothic
2. Church of St. Adalbert Port Richmond Gothic
3. Church of St. Laurentius Fishtown Gothic
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Winona, Minnesota
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka Downtown Romanesque
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Chicopee, Massachusetts
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Basilica of St. Stanislaus Chicopee Center (Cabotville) Baroque Revival
Churches in the 'Polish Cathedral' style in Buffalo, New York
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr East Side Romanesque Revival
2. Basilica of St. Adalbert East Side Romanesque Revival
3. Church of the Corpus Christi East Side Romanesque Revival
4. Church of the Assumption of St. Mary Black Rock Gothic
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Syracuse, New York
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Westside Gothic Revival
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in Baltimore, Maryland
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1.Church of the Holy Rosary Upper Fells Point Romanesque
2.Church of St. Casimir Canton Romanesque
Churches in the Polish Cathedral Style in New Haven, Connecticut
Church Location Dominant Architectural Theme
1. Church of St. Stanislaus Upper State Street Historic District Baroque

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Williams, Peter W., "Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States" pp. 157, 179–180 University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition (2000)
  2. ^ "Polish churches along the Kennedy Expressway" by Lilien, Marya, pp. 18–29, Spring 1980
  3. ^ The Archdiocese of Chicago: A Journey of Faith by Kantowicz, Edward pp. 27–29, Booklink, Ireland 2006
  4. ^ SKERRETT, Ellen. "Parish and Neighborhood in Polonia". Sacred Space. Catholicism, Chicago Style. p. 153. In terms of sheer size and monumentality, Polish Catholic churches on the Near Northwest Side surpassed the parish churches constructed by most German, Bohemian and Irish congregations. The architectural style promoted by the Resurrectionists used Renaissance and Baroque forms molded to distinctively promote their vision of Polish history and identity.
  5. ^ Polish Spires and Steeples Tour" Archived 2009-07-15 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Chicago Special Interest: "Polish cathedral"
  7. ^ Chicago's Polish Downtown Victoria Granacki in association with the Polish Museum of America pp. 7–11, 14–16, 18–23 Arcadia Publishing 2004
  8. ^ Williams, Peter W., "Houses of God: Region, Religion, and Architecture in the United States" p. 178 University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition (2000)
  9. ^ a b Catholicism, Chicago Style by Skerrett, Ellen; Kantowicz, Edward R.; and Avella, Steven M., p. 147, Loyola University Press, 1993
  10. ^ Ethnic Chicago: A Mulicultural Portrait edited by Melvin G. Holli and Peter a'A Jones, pp. 178-9, 595-6, William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1995
  11. ^ Swiderski, Klara and Robert, "Basilica of St. Hyacinth: Inside Religion", pp. 3-8, Ex Libris Galeria Polskiej Ksiazki, 2005
  12. ^ Piatkowska Danuta Polskie Kościoły w Nowym Jorku (The Polish Churches of New York [in Polish]), pp. 19-27, 559-61, Wydawnictwa Swietego Krzyza, 2002
  13. ^ Catholicism, Chicago Style by Skerrett, Ellen; Kantowicz, Edward R.; and Avella, Steven M., pp. 139-40, 146-50, 152-62, Loyola University Press, 1993

External links[edit]