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St. Peter's Catholic Church (Cathedral)

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1834. 1855, transept. 800 E. Grace St. (at N. 8th St.)

In the year of its construction, a Richmond newspaper viewed this building as inaugurating a new architectural era for the city. It would be more accurate to describe it as a bridge between two architectural eras. Within and without, the building is executed in a simple, restrained classicism. The Doric portico clearly foreshadowed the Greek Revival architecture of subsequent decades, while the attenuated form of the colums and simple cupola show the influence of neoclassicism of the 1810s and 1820s. The essence of the original design, supposedly based on the Parisian model of the Church of St.-Philippe-du-Roule, is intact and well preserved.

The building was the second Catholic church constructed in Richmond. In 1840, when the Diocese of Richmond was created, it became the first cathedral of that diocese. The 1855 transept, while somewhat boxy from the exterior, creates an elegant cruciform interior. There was considerable discussion in the 1880s about demolishing the building for a grander edifice, but the size of the site and a lack of funding precluded new construction. The consecration of the new Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Monroe Park in 1906 relegated the building to parish status.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "St. Peter's Catholic Church (Cathedral)", [Richmond, 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, 180-181.

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