St. Matthias Episcopal Church stands at the top of a steep hill in an area of central Asheville known locally as "East End," one of the oldest neighborhoods developed by African Americans in the city. Reverend Jarvis Buxton, a noted Episcopal rector who organized the first Episcopal congregation for free blacks in North Carolina in 1832, founded the original Trinity Chapel in Asheville for newly freed slaves in 1865. By 1896, the church outgrew the small chapel and St. Matthias was built to accommodate the growing congregation. Today, the church continues to serve as the place of worship for St. Matthias parishioners.
The church is a Gothic-style building constructed in a cruciform plan with a gable roof nave. The brick walls are laid with a darker shade of headers presenting a horizontal texture to the building's surface on every face. The nave is four bays deep with the division of each bay marked by buttresses. Centered on each bay is a lancet arch window on a stone sill, topped by a brick hoodmold. The church interior contains a rich display of well maintained dark woodwork fashioned in various Gothic motifs. The walls are white plaster over a wainscot of narrow vertical sheathing. The roof is supported by a heavy timber truss system, incorporating collar beams and braces. Sawn ornamental cusping is inserted between the framing members and the ceiling is a dark wood sheathing. The pulpit, lectern, altar and other furnishings are all original to the church and are decorated with trefoil arch panels, quatrefoil incisions and other Gothic elements. The interior woodwork is considered to be the most sophisticated of any church in the area built during the latter part of the 19th century.
St. Matthias Episcopal Church is located at One Dundee St. near the intersection of Grail St. on a prominent hill east of S. Charlotte St. in Asheville. Tours are available and can be arranged by calling 828-285-0033.
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