Christ Church Cathedral


One of the oldest surviving churches in St. Louis, the Episcopalian Christ Church Cathedral occupies a quiet corner of downtown across the street from the newly restored Central Library. It was constructed between 1859 and 1867 and designed by Leopold Eidlitz in the Gothic Revival style. Perhaps what is most notable about its exterior is the strong contrast between much softer, almost brownish sandstone of the nave and transepts, and the gray limestone of the tower.


The church is more influenced by the English School of Gothic architecture, as evidenced by the severity and relatively obscured buttresses.


Compton and Dry’s atlas preserves the original bell tower, which buffeted by the weather, probably was unable to survive with its stone being the soft Illinois sandstone used for the rest of the church. This original towering spire seems more Northern German than English.


The current bell tower, with its distinctive gray limestone and later Flamboyant Gothic style, stretches up on the northwest corner; ironically, it is poorly out of proportion to the rest of the church and does not match the much more muted tone of the rest of the cathedral. The front portal also matches the tower. Built decades later from 1910-12, the tower and front portal perhaps capture the often disjointed compositions of real Gothic churches that were often built over the course of generations and frequently switching or modifying styles in the interim. Interestingly, the designs, while implemented by architect Kivas Telly, were supposedly designed by Eidlitz himself.


The beautiful reredos on the interior are worth mentioning, but I did not photograph them on this visit due to the presence of worshipers that would have been disturbed by my presence. I photographed the church in the morning a while back, and it’s interesting to see how the light changes the appearance of buildings.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Mike Kinman says:

    Thanks so much for this entry on Christ Church Cathedral. Please let me know if you’d ever like to come back and photograph the inside (I’ll give you a tour!). We’re open 9-4 daily and of course on Sundays. We are sacred public space for St. Louis so anyone is welcome just to come in and sit, pray, enjoy the space and wander around. you can reach me at Thanks again! – Mike Kinman, Dean, Christ Church Cathedral.

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