Top Religious Buildings (Self Guided), Memphis

The churches of Memphis have seen much hardship, from slavery to racism to yellow fever epidemics, yet they have withstood these trials, as have the American people. On this self guided tour, you will some of the oldest and the most important churches in downtown Memphis.
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Top Religious Buildings Map

Guide Name: Top Religious Buildings
Guide Location: USA » Memphis (See other walking tours in Memphis)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 4
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: val
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • First Baptist Beale Street Church
  • St. Peter's Catholic Church
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
First Baptist Beale Street Church

1) First Baptist Beale Street Church

Beale Street Baptist Church, also known as, First Baptist Church or Beale Avenue Baptist Church, is a historic building built on Beale Street by a congregation of freed slaves in Memphis. It was designed by the prominent Memphis architectural firm Jones & Baldwin, a partnership between Edward Culliatt Jones and Matthias Baldwin. Its foundation stone was laid in 1869, and it was constructed between 1871 and 1885. In the late 1880s, the church also housed the newspaper office of Ida B. Wells, the famous civil rights journalist. Over the years, Ulysses S. Grant and Teddy Roosevelt made visits to the church.

The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was included in an enlargement of the National Historic Landmark District of Beale Street in 1993.
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Peter's Catholic Church

2) St. Peter's Catholic Church

St. Peter’s Catholic Church was the first Roman Catholic Church in West Tennessee. It was founded in 1840 and built between 1852 and 1855 by the descendants of the Shelby Early Settlers. Architect Patrick C. Keely designed the house of worship. It is one of the oldest surviving structures in Memphis. The church is located at the intersection of Adams Avenue and North Third Street.

The church design reflects a Gothic influence. A visit to the place of worship is worth it just to see the beautiful artwork, marble sculptures, and stained glass windows that compliment the vaulted Gothic ceilings and arches. Each piece of art tells a story about Jesus and his life. In addition, the church pays tribute to the Dominicans who helped them through the yellow-fever epidemics. Of special interest is the Stations of the Cross display located beneath the stained glass windows which shows Christ's suffering before his crucifixion.

St. Peter’s is open Monday through Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm and Friday from 8 am to 12 pm. Services are at 8:30 am and 11 am on Sunday and 5 pm on Saturday. Confessions are from 4:20 pm to 4:30 pm on Saturdays or by appointment.
First Presbyterian Church

3) First Presbyterian Church

The First Presbyterian Church, organized in 1828, became the second congregation in the young city of Memphis. In 1832, the city gave the church, as a gift, the site at the corner of Poplar Avenue and Third Street, where it stands to this day. The fate of this church closely parallels that of Memphis. The church’s early years of growth were broken off by the Civil War, then a yellow fever epidemic took the life of its pastor, the Rev. Henry Bowman, while he was ministering to the sick.

The current church building was built in 1884 after the original structure was destroyed by a fire and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral

4) St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral

St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, designed by Memphis Architect Bayard Snowden Cairns, is the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee and the former cathedral of the old statewide Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.

The white-stone structure features an English Gothic design. One of the most stunning elements of the church is the altar, Constance and Her Companions, which pays homage to nuns and priests who died in the Epidemic of 1878.

The church is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30. Sunday services are at 8 am and 11 am. All baptized Christians are welcome to receive communion. Individuals who have not been baptized are welcome to receive a blessing at the altar. The nearby bookstore is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm.

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