The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Mike Kinman, generously invited me for a tour of the cathedral, pointing out many of the interesting aspects of the church. First of all, while it’s a Gothic Revival church, the nave’s ceiling does not have a groin vault, but rather an intricate wood frame design.
The apse, however, does have the more traditional groin vaulting, which is hidden in shadows most of the time.
Much to my delight, Dean Kinman also took me on a tour of the bell tower, which was only built in the Twentieth Century. And despite the claims of Compton and Dry, this was the first bell tower; if you look closely, you can see a pointed arch that was once on the exterior of the church (as most people know, the building is faced with sandstone and limestone. If you look closely, there is a thick layer of coal dust on this arch; most likely, it was exposed to the elements for decades before the bell tower was built.
The basement was equally fascinating; deep under the nave of the church, this massive inverted Roman arch, and others like it, provided structural support for the walls above. I must admit that I have never seen this construction technique–the inverted arch–in any structure in America or Europe. I recently found a written reference to such construction in another St. Louis building, but for the most part, this seems to be a rare type of structural element. It was really a pleasant surprise to see it.
Thanks again to Dean Kinman and Christ Church Cathredal for allowing me to see these normally private spaces.