St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, a parish of the Diocese of Virginia, is a historic church in Richmond, Virginia, located across from the State Capitol. The parish is actively involved in the downtown Richmond community and provides a full array of church programming including weekly worship services, faith formation, choral and instrumental music, and pastoral care. St. Paul’s welcomes all persons to its services and programs. At present, its primary worship service is held at 10 AM on Sunday, along with services of evening prayer and evensong at other times and days. In recent years, St. Paul’s commemorated its 175th anniversary. The building was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1968 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.
Architecture & Art
Consecrated in 1845, the church’s Greek Revival building was designed by Thomas Somerville Stewart and modeled largely on his St. Luke’s Church, now Church of St. Luke and the Epiphany, in Philadelphia. Stewart used as his model the Corinthian order found on the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, located at the Acropolis in Athens. This inspiration is most obvious in the capitals atop the church’s two-story Corinthian columns outside on the portico, and matching columns inside around the chancel. St. Paul’s retains its original neoclassical interior decoration as well as its distinctive pews. Also original is the nave’s large ceiling medallion, centered with a triangle containing the Hebrew letters representing “Yahweh”—the name of God (Tetragrammaton).
The St. Paul’s congregation grew out of Monumental Protestant Episcopal Church on Broad Street (est. 1814). With the substantial transfer of that earlier church’s clergy, vestry, and over 200 members, the new church debuted as the Diocese’s largest parish.
Stations of St. Paul’s
Modeled after the Stations of the Cross, the Stations of St. Paul’s are a liturgical and art installation created by artist Janelle Washington drawing from in-depth historical research.
SERVICE to the COMMUNITY
From its founding, St. Paul’s has established a reputation for community outreach efforts. In its early years, it established the St. Paul’s Church Home for Girls (1859-1928), the Belvidere Mission School (1873-1892), and the St. Paul’s Church Home for Aged and Infirm Women (1873-1908). In 1905, St. Paul’s began hosting midday community Lenten services, accompanied by lunch starting in 1920, with profits benefitting various charities. In the 1960s, St. Paul’s established and housed the Oral School for deaf preschool children (1967-1970) and the Adult Development Center for the disabled (1967-1983).
MUSIC & ORGAN
St. Paul’s has a long, rich history of musical excellence, featuring choral singing and organ performances during worship services and concerts. The church organ created by Manuel Rosales of Los Angeles was installed in 2000 in the north gallery. Its Greek-revival casework, constructed of Honduras mahogany, was designed by Philadelphia architect, John Blatteau.
Annual musical events include Choral Evensongs, Lessons & Carols, and the Richmond Three Choirs Concert. In 2022, the Richmond Men’s Chorus (part of Richmond Allied Voices), led by choral director and St. Paul’s organist, Christopher Reynolds, performed its “Back in Bloom” choral concert at the church. Its various pipe organs were all custom-made for the church by nationally renowned builders.