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First Calvary Baptist Church

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1915–1916, Mitchell and Wilcox. 1968–1969, educational annex, McGaughy, Marshall, and McMillan. 1979, interior renovation. 1036–1040 Wide St.
  • (Richard Guy Wilson)

From the exterior one might easily mistake First Calvary Baptist Church for a town hall or lyceum; only the bell tower at the northwest corner provides a reassuring ecclesiastical touch. The Georgian Revival exterior is constructed of brick with nearly identical, doublestacked Corinthian porticoes, executed in terra-cotta, on the north and west facades. Perched above the second of two full entablatures, a terra-cotta balustrade with decorative finials conceals the roof, a motif reminiscent of the work of James Gibbs (1682–1754). When it was completed in 1916, the church signaled architecturally the maturation of a relatively young African American congregation, which, after its founding in 1880, had met in a small commercial building on nearby Church Street.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "First Calvary Baptist Church", [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, 437-438.

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