Tobacco and Trolleys: Industry and Transportation
Antebellum Architecture
Richmond's African American Heritage
The Continuing legacy of Historic Preservation
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St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church
Virginia Department of Historic Resources


Dating from 1834, St. Peter’s Church is considered one of the gems of 19th century ecclesiastical architecture in Richmond. The oldest Roman Catholic Church in the city, St. Peter’s served as a cathedral until the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at Cathedral Place and Laurel Street superseded it in 1905.  Designed loosely in the Greek Revival style, the building is constructed of stuccoed brick and features a tall and narrow pedimented entrance portico with paired Doric columns.  This latter arrangement is similar to that on the White House of the Confederacy of 1818 at 1201 East Clay Street, albeit at a larger scale.  A graceful Doric entablature encircles the church, and the stepped parapet leads up to a square cupola and octagonal dome, similar to the arrangement of St. Paul’s Church across the street to the east. Pilasters topped with Ionic capitals divide the bays on the interior. Short transept arms and a semicircular apse subtly reinforce the cruciform shape of the building.

In its early years, the church congregation consisted of a large number of Irish and German immigrants, a number of whom worked on the James River and Kanawha Canal. Many important people later attended St. Peter’s including Littleton Tazewell, Governor of Virginia from 1834 to 36; various French consuls who made Richmond their home; Civil War General Beauregard; and Pearl Tyler, daughter of President Tyler, who had her wedding there. The building received a substantially renovation in 1854 and is still used today as a downtown parish church.

St. Peter's Church c. 1910

St. Peter's Church c. 1910
Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries

Plan your visit
St. Peter’s Church is located at 800 E. Grace St. The church is open to the public. For information, call 804- 643-4315.
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