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Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church

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1909–1910, Watson and Huckle with Ferguson and Calrow. Northeast corner of W. Olney Rd. and Stockley Gardens

One of Norfolk's largest churches, Christ and St. Luke's demonstrates the return to academic principles in early twentieth-century Gothic Revival architecture, following the florid experimentation of the Victorian Gothic. The Christ Church congregation (formed 1800), originally located downtown, followed the migration to the developing residential suburb of Ghent. Watson and Huckle of Philadelphia, with the assistance of Ferguson and Calrow, a local firm, designed the granite and limestone building in the English Perpendicular manner, effectively combining academic materials and details with picturesque massing. The enormous scale of the church proved fortuitous, for in 1935 Christ Church merged with St. Luke's, a nearby Episcopal parish founded in 1873.

Taking maximum advantage of the waterfront location, the architects placed a 130-foot tower at the southwest corner of the building, with the main entrance at its base. The nave is oriented from south to north with a false transept, invisible from the interior, near the northwest corner. Attached buttresses and lancet windows articulate the aisle walls with corresponding lancet windows at the clerestory level. Enormous lancet windows with Perpendicular tracery terminate the nave at each end. An enclosed garden to the east of the church is reached by a handsome lych gate. Since there is no narthex, the interior of the church is revealed slowly; only after the worshiper has entered and turned through the vestibule of the southwest tower are the full 55-foot height and 150-foot length of the nave apparent. Dark oak ceiling beams contrast with gray limestone walls, and outside light is diffused through the many stained glass windows by Mayer and Company of Munich. A pale Caen stone was used for the elaborate reredos that decorates the rear wall beneath the north window of the raised sanctuary. The whole effect is remarkably true to the spirit of fifteenth-century English craftsmanship.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-NK72.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 430-430.

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