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Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart

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1924–1925, Peebles and Ferguson. 1957, renovation. 1988, renovation and addition, Design Collaborative. Southeast corner of W. Princess Anne Rd. and Blow St.
  • Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart (Richard Guy Wilson)

Alone among the numerous churches of Ghent, the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart reflects in its design the increased interest in Italo-Byzantine architecture in the years following World War I. Based loosely on the fifth-century Church of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Sacred Heart is a three-aisle basilica terminated by a triple apse at its east end. With its simple round-arched windows, brick walls, and tile roof, the church appears unusually restrained when viewed from the sides and rear. Only the west facade is highly ornamented, in terra-cotta and marble. The three entrances are framed by a triple arcade supported by engaged Corinthian columns that flank the center opening and corbeled Corinthian capitals that terminate each end. Above the entrances, the tympana of the arcade are filled with polychrome reliefs in the style of the della Robbia workshops of Florence. A majestic wheel window dominates the upper level of the facade. To the right of the church, a sympathetic addition of the 1980s now provides the primary access to the church while linking it to the Italianate rectory on Graydon Avenue.

The interior of Sacred Heart is light and airy, primarily because of the translucent glazing of the clerestory level and the white stuccoed wall surfaces. Marble Corinthian columns with stylized, gilded capitals line the nave, leading to the principal and subsidiary apses. The stained glass windows along the aisle walls were designed by Mayer and Company of Munich. Both aisles and nave are covered by open-truss ceilings of wood, subtly painted in geometric patterns.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart", [Norfolk, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 432-432.

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