Historical Churches, Charlotte

Historical Churches (Self Guided), Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina, is home to a variety of religious sites, representing a range of religious denominations. The city's historical churches date mostly to the first half of the 19th century and stand as both spiritual sanctuaries and architectural landmarks.

One of the notable places of worship in Charlotte is Saint Peter's Catholic Church. Founded in 1851, it boasts a distinguished Gothic Revival architecture, characterized by its pointed arches and intricate stained glass windows. The church has played a vital role in the spiritual life of the local Catholic community for generations.

Another prominent religious institution is the First Presbyterian Church, established in 1857. Its iconic Gothic Revival towering spire and intricate detailing have been a cornerstone of Charlotte's ecclesiastical architectural landscape.

Saint Peter's Episcopal Church is yet another remarkable temple. Founded in 1834, its history is closely intertwined with the development of Charlotte itself.

The First United Methodist Church, founded in 1927, is just as venerable an institution in the city. Its grand neo-Gothic design is a testament to the church's historical prominence within the community.

Lastly, the First United Presbyterian Church, established in 1869, is one of Charlotte's oldest religious sites, whose late Gothic Revival style reflects the lasting presence of Presbyterianism in the city.

As the living testament to the enduring faith of the Charlotte community, these historical churches are worth exploring for a deeper understanding of the city's cultural heritage. Visiting them not only allows one to appreciate their architectural beauty but also offers an opportunity to connect with Charlotte's past and discover the spiritual treasures they hold within their walls. A good way to spend a few hours of holiday time for a history buff or anyone seeking a moment of reflection!
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Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches
Guide Location: USA » Charlotte (See other walking tours in Charlotte)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. Peter's Catholic Church
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • St. Peters Episcopal Church
  • First United Methodist Church
  • First United Presbyterian Church
St. Peter's Catholic Church

1) St. Peter's Catholic Church

Saint Peter's Catholic Church in Charlotte is a symbol of the region's deep Catholic heritage. Established in 1851, it holds the distinction of being the oldest Catholic church in Charlotte, playing a central role in the city's religious life until 1940 when it was the only Catholic church available.

Originally situated at what was then considered the southern outskirts of Charlotte, Saint Peter's has witnessed the city's growth, now finding itself in the bustling heart of uptown Charlotte, surrounded by major art museums and adjacent to The Green, making it one of the oldest surviving buildings on Tryon Street.

The church's architectural history began with its original structure, in use from 1851 to 1892. Despite facing challenges such as damage during the Civil War, the current building, constructed in 1893, stands as a fine example of simplified Victorian Gothic architecture, notable for its dark brick design.

Inside, Saint Peter's once housed a notable triptych by American painter Ben Long, depicting key moments in Christian history. Sadly, this fresco suffered severe damage in February 2002 and could not be fully restored, leading to a renovation of the church interior in 2007. This renovation not only addressed the damage but also revitalized the interior, ensuring that Saint Peter's remains a place of worship and spiritual comfort for the community.

Throughout its history, Saint Peter's Catholic Church has been more than a place of worship; it's a significant historical and architectural landmark in Charlotte. Its journey from a solitary church on the outskirts to a prominent landmark in uptown reflects both its resilience and its enduring importance to the community it serves.
First Presbyterian Church

2) First Presbyterian Church

The First Presbyterian Church complex, enclosed by an ironwork fence and set amidst shaded trees, occupies an entire city block in downtown Charlotte and has been a prominent fixture in the city since the mid-19th century. Constructed in 1857, the church underwent several expansions and renovations over the years, resulting in its present appearance.

The one-story building features stucco-covered brick construction, Gothic Revival arches, lancet windows with stained glass, crenelated parapets, and towers with pinnacles adorned with crockets and finials. The original spire was rebuilt in 1883-1884 and the side and rear walls of the church were taken down and a new structure was erected in 1894–1895.

The sanctuary boasts an impressive interior with a wainscoted lower wall, plastered upper walls, and a magnificent ceiling featuring arched ribs filled with alternating panels of horizontal and diagonal narrow boarding. The sanctuary's large curved pews, a center aisle, balcony, pulpit area, and choir loft contribute to its grandeur.

Throughout its history, the church has expanded to meet the needs of its congregation. Additions include the Burroughs Building in 1916-1917, the Fellowship Hall in 1952, and the Office-Educational Building in 1960-1961. Each expansion maintains the Gothic Revival style with features such as lancet windows, corner buttresses, and crenelated parapets.

As an architectural monument, The First Presbyterian Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
St. Peters Episcopal Church

3) St. Peters Episcopal Church

Saint Peter's Episcopal Church is located in Charlotte's Historic Fourth Ward near Discovery Place. It is an excellent place to stop to admire the art and architecture of the building while on a walking tour of the city.

Saint Peter's was the first Episcopal Church in the city. Though established as a church in 1834, it wasn't recognized as a parish in the Diocese of North Carolina until a decade later. The church building was finished more than 50 years after this recognition.

Construction of the church began in 1893 under the direction of Bishop Joseph Blount Cheshire, Jr. It was completed in 1895, and then expanded in 1912 to add the Parish House and chapel. Renovations and more additions have taken place over the years with the most recent being in 2010.

The church building is open daily to allow visitors and residents a place of sanctuary. Visitors are also welcome to attend church services on Sundays.
First United Methodist Church

4) First United Methodist Church

Back in the early 1920s, there were two churches in Charlotte – Trinity Methodist and Tryon Street Methodist – whose members began to discuss a possible consolidation to form one bigger church. At the same time, James B Duke of Duke Power Company had just built a home for himself in Charlotte and wanted to do something to help the local Methodist community. With this in mind, he donated $100,000 for the combined churches to build a new temple in uptown Charlotte.

Thus, the First United Methodist Church came into being, located between 8th and 9th Streets on North Tryon Street in the heart of the historic Fourth Ward district. The Trinity and Tryon congregations held their inaugural service as First Methodist on Sunday, October 30, 1927, though the sanctuary itself wasn't completed until March the following year.

Presently, the church has a weekly worship service, bell choir, children's dinner, and a variety of religious programs.
First United Presbyterian Church

5) First United Presbyterian Church

The First United Presbyterian Church in Charlotte holds historical and cultural significance on two fronts. Firstly, it stands as one of the city's older Gothic Revival churches, showcasing its architectural heritage. Secondly, it plays a pivotal role in the history of the black community in Charlotte.

Following the Civil War, as black people in the South sought to establish their identity in a society marked by discrimination and limited opportunities, they began creating their own institutions. Churches became crucial in nurturing skills and fostering community bonds.

In 1873, the Charlotte Colored Presbyterian Church acquired land at East Seventh and North College Streets. In 1876, they secured a loan for $800 from the Church Erection Fund. Once their new facility at East Seventh and North College Streets was ready, the congregation renamed itself the Seventh Street Presbyterian Church in 1877.

The current church building, constructed in 1894, was funded with a $1000 loan secured in 1896. Members themselves built the structure, working in the evenings and on weekends. The church merged with Brooklyn Presbyterian Church in 1968, forming the First United Presbyterian Church, which still occupies the historic building on the corner of North College and Seventh Streets.

Throughout its history, this church was closely linked to the early history of Biddle Memorial Institute, later Johnson C Smith University. Stephen Mattoon, a minister at the church, even served as the president of Biddle Institute, further illustrating its enduring legacy in Charlotte's black community's development.

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