Baltimore Church and Synagogue Architecture

Since President Trump and Secretary Carson continue to keep Baltimore in the news, I’m ceasing the moment to highlight some of Baltimore’s religions architecture. This blog is called “chasing churches” because I often spend my time running around visiting houses of worship, but I haven’t yet written a post simply sharing my wanderings until now.

I count at least two buildings in Baltimore as belonging to the United States’ most significant examples of religious architecture. There are lots of good resources on these two churches on line. My pictures do not do them justice (but please click on them to see them in larger and complete form). You must visit the churches or watch videos.

Benjamin Henry Latrobe designed the first Roman Catholic Cathedral for the United States in Baltimore (1806-1821). Now known as the Baltimore Basilica it has being magnificently restored to its neo-classical glory.

Standford White designed the 1884 building for Lovely Lane United Methodist Church, a unique and early example of the extremely popular neo-medieval “auditorium church.” If you are interested in these churches role in American history, Jeanne Halgren Kilde’s When Church Became Theatre: The Transformation of Evangelical Architecture and Worship in Nineteenth-Century America is the place to go.

In 2013, Jeanne Kilde, Gretchen Buggeln, and I led the tour of Baltimore Houses of Worship at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting. Click here for the guide we wrote. In addition to the Basilica we went to St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran (Joseph Evans Sperry, 1898), Baltimore Hebrew Congregation (Percival Goodman, 1951), and the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer (Pietro Belluschi, 1958).

There are lots of other great examples of American religious architecture in Baltimore. And many other important religious places, too. Most of them are not the works of famous architects, like these are, but they are important places of human community and religious aspiration.

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