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Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church

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1924, Edward J. Weber. Northeast corner of intersection of Monroe and Wyoming sts.

This is one of several Roman Catholic churches built under the guidance of Bishop John J. Swint from designs by architect Edward J. Weber of Pittsburgh. Sacred Heart is Bluefield's most significant ecclesiastical work of art, and the architect thought well enough of his accomplishment to sign it; the words “Edward Weber, Architect” are carved on the limestone jamb of the front entrance. Weber also illustrated Sacred Heart in his 1927 publication, Catholic Ecclesiology. Eminently correct in its liturgical arrangements and appointments, the church stands virtually unchanged from its original appearance.

Although a small building, it dominates its sloping site at an acutely angled intersection east of downtown. The church is built of ruddy, quarry-faced sandstone laid in random ashlar, with limestone trim around the door and windows. Massing is austerely plain, and component parts—tower, nave, aisles, and chancel—are readily identifiable. Its architectural style is Gothic, but as there are only a few precise references to this allegiance, the overall impression of ruggedness seems more Romanesque in spirit. The slightly projecting tower contains the arched entry in its base. Above, a shallow, arched niche contains a statue of Christ displaying the Sacred Heart (Francis Aretz, sculptor). The tower terminates above the ridge of the roof in a double-arched bell gable.

Inside, a five-bay nave is separated from side aisles by round columns supporting Gothic arches, above which is a wooden ceiling with painted panels. Lee McQuaide painted the reredos that decorates the deep sanctuary, as well as the large crucifix over the chancel arch. Stained glass windows are by George Sotter of Pittsburgh.

The surrounding neighborhood, especially the 100 and 200 blocks of Monroe Street, contains a number of decayed frame houses, mostly in the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles, that date from the turn of the twentieth century. They are vestiges of one of the early choice residential neighborhoods that clustered around the Bluefield Inn.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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