Our History

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is located in Richmond, Virginia, immediately across the street from the state capitol building. Renowned for its architecture and history, the church is a Virginia Historic Landmark and designated on the National Register of Historic Places. Built between 1843-1845, St. Paul’s was designed by Philadelphia architect Thomas Stewart in Greek-revival temple style. Adhering to the “low-church” norms of the era, its sanctuary was intentionally devoid of religious imagery, excepting the Hebrew letters for Yahweh (God) in the ceiling medallion. In the 1890s, however, policy changed during a surge of medieval-revival taste. Over the next thirty years, congregants donated figural stained-glass windows—among them notable examples by Tiffany Studios and English artist Henry Holiday.

St. Paul’s figured prominently during the Civil War as the place where key Confederate leaders worshipped, among them Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. In subsequent decades, three sitting US Presidents visited—Andrew Johnson, William Howard Taft, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The church is frequently the site of pre-inaugural services for incoming Virginia governors—including L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first elected African American chief executive. Today, as it approaches its 175th anniversary, this active, dedicated parish strives to uphold its long-held mission to “Proclaim Christ in the Heart of the City” through worship and community outreach. Visitors are welcome during services, designated office hours, or by appointment.