This report was written on December 7, 1987
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as St.
Peter's Episcopal Church is located at 339 North Tryon St. in Charlotte,
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner of the
property. The owner of the property is:
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
115 West Seventh St.
Charlotte, N.C. 28202
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report
contains a map which depicts the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference to the property: The Tax Office of
Mecklenburg County does not contain a reference to the current deed on the
property. The Tax Parcel Number of the property is: 078-024-14.
6. A brief historical sketch of the property: This report contains
a brief historical sketch of the property prepared by Dr. William H.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains a brief architectural description of the property prepared by
Thomas W. Hanchett.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria for designation set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4:
a. Special significance in terms of its history, architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as St. Peter's Episcopal Church does possess special significance in
terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its judgment on the
following considerations: 1) St. Peter's Episcopal Church, organized as a
parish in 1844, has played a central role in the religious and
humanitarian life of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, most notably by
fostering the creation of other Episcopal parishes, including St.
Martin's, St. Mark's, the Church of the Holy Comforter, St. Michael and
All Angels, and by founding St. Peter's Hospital (1876), Thompson
Orphanage (1886), and Good Samaritan Hospital (1891); 2) the St. Peter's
Episcopal Church, completed c. 1914, is one of Charlotte's best surviving
examples of Victorian Gothic style architecture; and 3) St. Peter's
Episcopal Church, situated on the southwestern quadrant of the
intersection of North Tryon St. and Seventh St., is strategically located
in terms of the North Tryon St. streetscape.
b. Integrity of design, setting, workmanship, materials, feeling,
and/or association: The Commission contends that the architectural
description by Mr. Thomas W. Hanchett which is included in this report
demonstrates that St. Peter's Episcopal Church meets this criterion.
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The Commission is aware that
designation would allow the owner to apply for an automatic deferral of 50%
of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion of the property which becomes
"historic property." St. Peter's Episcopal Church is exempted from the
payment of Ad Valorem taxes. The current appraised value of the improvement
is $483,190. The current appraised value of the .436 acres of land is
$380,160. The total appraised value of the property is $863,350. The
property is zoned UMUD.
Date of Preparation of this Report: December 7, 1987
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
1225 S. Caldwell St.
Charlotte, N.C. 28203
Dr. William H. Huffman
St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Charlotte has had an impact on the city
and county far beyond its charming but modest appearance. Founded as a
mission in 1834 and a parish in 1844, it has served as the sponsoring church
of nine other parishes, the state's first private orphanage and two
hospitals, one of which was among the first for blacks in the country. Four
of its rectors have become bishops. The present building, its third, was
started in 1892 and finished about 1894. The architect is unknown. On the
first Sunday in November, 1824, the first known Episcopal service in
Charlotte was held when the visiting Bishop Ravenscroft preached in the
Community Church (on the site of the present First Presbyterian Church), but
it wasn't until ten years later that St. Peter's was formally established as
a mission (Mecklenburg County had been established as a parish, St.
Martin's, in 1768, but had not been actively served). From 1834 to 1844,
there were just a few communicants who were occasionally visited by
missionary or supply pastors. Charlotte was just a small token, practically
indistinguishable from others in the Piedmont, when St. Peter's was
organized as a parish on December 20. 1844. 1 The organizational
meeting, of fourteen members, was hold at the home of William Julius
Alexander, where they adopted a resolution:
Resolved: We, the undersigned, being assembled for the purpose of
forming ourselves into a congregation of the Protestant Episcopal church
in the United States, do certify that we have consented to be governed by
the constitution and canons of the church as set forth in general
convention, and by the constitution and canons of the church in this
diocese, that we have assumed the name of 'St. Peter's Chapel, Charlotte,'
and have elected the following persons vestrymen to-wit: Jeremiah William
Murphy, William Julius Alexander, William R. Myers and Miles B. Abernathy.
In witness thereof, we have subscribed our names this 20th day of
December, in the year of our Lord. 1814. (Signed) Jeremiah W. Murphy,
William J. Alexander, William R. Myers, E. Catherine Alexander, Joseph W.
Murphy, Mary J. Wilson, Mary Hood Alexander, Martha Murphy, Sarah A.
Happoldt, Sarah F. Alexander, Sallie R. Caldwell, Catherine Alexander, E.
D. Williamson, Olivia Abernathy. 2
The new church set about right away raising funds for a place of worship
of it s own, and in 1845-46 put up a small brick building twenty by forty
feet on a West Trade Street lot across from the Mint. Bishop Ives
consecrated the simple structure on June 28, 1816. 3
For the first few years. there was no minister assigned to the fledgling
parish, and so services were conducted by lay readers. From 1847 to 1854,
St. Peter's was served infrequently by pastors from Salisbury or Lincolnton,
but in the latter year, the first resident minister, Rev. Horatio H. Hewitt
arrived to take charge. 4 1854 was also a fateful year for the
city of Charlotte, for it was then that the first leg of the North Carolina
Railroad opened to Concord, which in the next two years would reach
Goldsboro via Greensboro, Salisbury and Raleigh. Two years earlier, the
Charlotte and South Carolina Railroad had linked the city with Columbia, and
thus by waterway to Charleston, the Carolinas' largest port 5.
These rail connections insured that Charlotte was destined to become the
Piedmont's major city.
Anticipating rapid growth for the city and its implication for St.
Peter's, Rev. Hewitt, in his report to the Convention in 1855, made a plea
for a larger building, and asked for contributions.
This large and growing town demands the especial sympathies of every
liberal hearted Churchmen in the Diocese. Its population, according to the
best and latest estimate, has increased to nearly three thousand souls
[1850 population: 1,065]; and yet are have not church accommodation in it
for more than one hundred fifty souls. From the interest which is
manifested in our services, we have every reason to believe that the
growth of the Church is greatly retarded for want of a larger building.
There are so few members however, that it would be impossible for them to
undertake, alone, the responsibility of erecting one equal to the
importance of the wants of the parish...6
By 1857, Rev. Hewitt had raised about $3000.00 from the congregation,
contributions from other parishes, and the sale of the lot on Trade Street.
On May 21, 1857, Bishop Atkinson laid the cornerstone for the new
building on ninety-nine-foot square site at the corner of Seventh and Tryon
Streets, which had been purchased earlier that year. 8 Completed
about the middle of 1858, the parish's second church was consecrated
September 23, 1862, after the debt was finally paid. 9 It was
designed by one of the parish vestry, Col. William A. Williams, who was
influenced by an 1836 tract by an Episcopal rector (later a bishop) at
Trinity Church, Pittsburgh. Pa., Rev. Hopkins. It bore the title, "Essay on
Gothic Architecture, designed chiefly for the use of the Clergy", and
contained lithographs of Trinity and other English Gothic church designs. It
is likely that this essay was influential in the design of the present
building as well. 10
During the Civil War, St. Peter's joined with five other parishes to
import Bibles and Prayer Books from England to distribute to Confederate
soldiers. In mid-1864, the consortium bought five bales of cotton in
Wilmington, which were run through the Union blockade and sold in England,
where the money was used to have an edition of the Prayer Book of the
Church in the Confederate States printed, and buy Bibles. These in turn
were run back through the blockade to Wilmington for distribution. and it is
believed that "the only Confederate Prayer Books used in the South during
the War were those brought in by this combination of North Carolina
parishes. " 11
The War also brought many prominent Confederates to Charlotte who
worshipped at St. Peters. Already the temporary refuge for many of the wives
and children of military and government officials by 1865, during April
19-26 of that year the city became the temporary capital of the dying
Confederacy. Charlotteans struggled to house and feed the beleaguered
Jefferson Davis, his Cabinet and staff, one thousand cavalry, numerous
lesser officials and straggling soldiers. The Attorney General stayed with
William Myers, one of the vestry of St. Peter's. On Friday, April 14th,
President Lincoln was shot, and died the next day. Jefferson Davis found out
the afternoon of Tuesday, April 18th not long after he arrived in town and
was addressing a welcoming crowd at the Bates home on South Tryon Street.
The following Sunday, April 23rd, he and a number of other Confederate
officials were at the service in St. Peter's. where they heard a sermon by
Rev. George Everhart lamenting the tragic event. 12
With the end of Reconstruction and the advent of Near South
industrialization in the late 1800s, the population and prosperity of the
city, and the work of the church all grew at an increasingly rapid pace. In
1872, the rector, Rev. Benjamin S. Bronson, received a gift from the family
of Lewis Thompson, a deceased parishioner from Bertie, for his new St.
Peter's School. Renamed the Thompson Institute, a hall eras constructed on
eighty acres on the southern edge of the city purchased for the project. The
institute eventually failed, but in 1886 was turned into an orphanage, the
state's second, and the first to be established by a religious organization
and completely funded by private donations. It is presently the site, among
other things, of St. Mary's Chapel, and forty of the acres were leased to
the developers of Charlottetown Mall, the city's first indoor shopping mall
(now Midtown Square). 13
The parishioners of St. Peter's were also responsible for the
establishment of two hospitals in the city, one for whites and one for
blacks. The first was
St. Peter's Home and Hospital, opened on January 20, 1876 in two rented
rooms on 7th Street with two patients, a Baptist and a Methodist. In 1877,
Miss Hattie Moore's "Busy Bees," from her Select School for Girls, raised
money for the purchase of a lot at Poplar and 6th Street (for $273.12), and
later that year Bishop Atkinson laid the cornerstone for a four -room
hospital that was completed the following year. Money was raised for the
building by the vestry and the St. Peter's Church Aid Society, of which Jane Smedberg Wilkes (1827-1913), who had cared for Civil War wounded and was an
early advocate for a hospital, was secretary-treasurer and chief
fund-raiser. Serving alternatively as president, secretary or treasurer of
the board of managers for the hospital, she was also instrumental in raising
the funds for expansions of St. Peter's in 1898 and 1907. She later became
known as the "Godmother of Charlotte Hospitals." The home and hospital,
which provided temporary care for "destitute and sick persons as could not
be otherwise provided for," closed and its patients were transferred to
Charlotte Memorial in 1940. 14
In 1881, Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire (later Bishop of North Carolina)
became rector, and was quite interested in extending the religious ministry
of the church. The following year, he started a mission to the black
population of the city, which became the Church of St. Michael and All
Angels at Mint and Hill Streets in Third Ward. Mrs. Wilkes began raising
money for a
companion hospital, and in 1887 property was bought on Hill Street
between Mint and Graham for the building. At the cornerstone laying in 1888,
clergy from both the black and white communities attended, and Dr. Matoon,
president of Biddle Institute (now Johnson C. Smith University) was one of
the speakers. When it opened in 1891, under the board of managers who were
all women of the church led by Mrs. Wilkes, a hospital exclusively for
blacks was not only unique to Charlotte, but perhaps to the state and one of
the few in the nation. Major additions to the hospital were made in 1925 and
1937, and in 1959 it too was taken over by Memorial Hospital. Expanded again
in 1961, it operated as Charlotte Community Hospital until 1982, when it was
renovated for housing for the elderly. 15 [It has since been
By 1881, Rev. Cheshire started a mission to St. Paul's in Monroe, and in
1884 organized the
St. Mark's congregation in the Long Creek community, both of which he
turned over to Rev. E. A. Osborne in 1885. Ten years later, Rev. Osborne was
made an Archdeacon and put in charge of all the mission congregations. Also
in 1881, Rev. Cheshire started a Sunday school in an unused school building
at 10th and Davidson Streets in First Ward, which burned a few years later.
It was replaced with what became St. Martin's Chapel in 1887, which is now
St. Martin's Church on 7th Street in Elizabeth 16
During all the activity of Rev. Cheshire's rectorship (1881-1893) that
also corresponded with the rapid growth of the city, the need for a new
building to replace the 1857 "Little Church" at 7th and Tryon became
apparent. In 1888, Harriet "Hattie" Moore, who had run her school in her
house behind the church. sold the property to the building committee so
there would be more room. 17 On September 27, 1892, Rev. Cheshire
held his last service in the old church, and it was demolished shortly
thereafter and construction began on the new. It was partly occupied the
following year, and mostly finished about 1894, but work continued on the
building for the next ten years In 1906, the parish house was built, and the
following year a new organ installed. The chapel was added in 1912, a gift
of Judge William Bynum. 18
Because of the debt incurred, the church was not formally consecrated
until May 29, 1921. By that time, St. Peter's had been instrumental in
establishing St. Michael and All Angels, St. Mark's, St. Martin's,
The Church of the Holy Comforter
(Dilworth, 1903), St. Andrew's Chapel
(on Central Avenue, built as a memorial to his father and grandfather by
Heriot Clarkson), the Chapel of Hope (in the Belmont neighborhood, built as
a mission for mill workers at the Highland Park Mills), St. Peter's
Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, and the Thompson Orphanage. 19
In 1942, Christ Church mission was started on Providence Road to
accommodate growth to the south, to which 115 communicants transferred from
St. Peter's, which represented ten percent of its communicants, but
twenty-two percent of its income. 20 After the war, it was clear
that the population would continue moving away from the center city, and the
vestry considered whether or not to give up the 7th and Tryon site and move
out as well. It was decided that St. Peter's would stay where it was for the
"foreseeable future," and so extensive renovations were undertaken, which
involved putting in new stained glass windows, new altar, and other changes.
21 Through its Soup Kitchen (started in 1979) and numerous other
service projects in the community, St. Peter's remains thoroughly involved
in the life of the community, and its presence, both physical and human,
continues to play a marital role in the city's ongoing history. 22
On the occasion of the 1921 consecration, Bishop Cheshire wrote the
second of his "Historical Addresses" about the history of St. Peter's (the
first was given in 1892 at the last service of the 1857 church). In his
address. Bishop Cheshire summed up the importance of the parish's history in
The true honor of this parish does not lie in its own handsome church
and large, well-equipped parish home and numerous congregation, but in the
extension of the life and service of the Church in other churches and
congregations and institutions, which have, in whole or in part, sprung
from it, and been planted and watered, tended and augmented by the love
and service of its people. 23
1 Joseph Blount Cheshire, Bishop of the Diocese of North
Carolina, St. Peter's Church: Historical Addresses: From Colonial Days to
1893 (n.p.: 1921); St. Peter's Episcopal Church, l834-l984 (n.p.,
n.d.) [Commemorative Booklet, 1984].
2 Charlotte Observer, May 30,1921, p.7.
3 Cheshire, cited above, pp. 9-10.
4 Ibid., pp. 10-11.
5 LeGette Blythe and Charles Brockmann, Hornet's Nest: The
Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (Charlotte: Public Library of
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1961), pp. 260-261.
6 Cheshire, p.12.
7 Ibid., p.13.
8 Ibid.; Deed Book 4, p.549.
9 Cheshire. pp. 13-14.
10 Ibid., pp. 15-18; Bishop Cheshire owned a copy of the
essay, and took a great interest in English Gothic church architecture.
11 Ibid., pp. 23-24.
12 Blythe and Brockmann, p. 404; Charlotte Observer,
November 3, 1984, p. 14A.
13 Cheshire, p.25, 39-40; Blythe and Brockmann, p.329.
14 Cheshire, pp. 25-26,29-30; William H. Huffman, "A
Historical Sketch of the Good Samaritan Hospital," Charlotte Mecklenburg
Historic Properties Commission, 1983.
15 Cheshire, pp. 30-31; Huffman, cited above.
16 Cheshire, pp. 31-38; William H. Huffman, "A
Historical Sketch of the St. Mark's Episcopal Church," Charlotte
Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, 1983.
17 Deed Book 59, p.598.
18 St. Peter's Episcopal Church. cited in note 1, pp. 13-16.
19 Cheshire, pp. 41 & 43.
20 St. Peter's Episcopal Church, p.22.
21 Ibid., p.23.
22 Ibid., pp. 24-25.
23 Cheshire, p.22.
By Thomas W. Hanchett
St. Peter's Episcopal Church occupies a prominent corner site near the
heart of downtown Charlotte on North Tryon Street, the city's "Main Street."
The handsome Victorian Gothic structure, built of brick and brownstone in
1892- 1893, is one of Charlotte's best surviving examples of the Victorian
masons art. 1 A large "U"-shaped two-and-a-half story Parish
House addition wrapped around the rear of the church in 1914, new stained
glass windows were installed and interior changes were made 1948-51, and a
small southside vestibule was enclosed at about the same time. Otherwise the
structure remains much as it was built.
St. Peter's congregation formed in 1834 and first erected a sanctuary on
this spot in 1857, as Charlotte was emerging as an important railroad
junction in the Carolina Piedmont. By the 1890s, cotton trade and new cotton
mills were transforming the railroad town into a major city, and several of
Charlotte's established downtown congregations built new churches or greatly
enlarged their existing buildings. In fall of 1892 the Saint Peter's
congregation under the leadership of Rev. Joseph Blount Cheshire demolished
their old Gothic Revival style "Little Church," and by 1893 were holding
services in the big new sanctuary.
The 1893 Building
The building's red brick and brown sandstone came from Anson County land
owned by Colonel William R. Myers, a wealthy lay leader of the congregation
(Charlotte's prestigious Myers Park suburb is named for his son J. S.
Myers). There is no record of who the architect or builder of the church
were, but they were clearly influenced by Rev. Cheshire. Cheshire's hobby
was the study of ecclesiastical architecture, particularly the English
Gothic, and he took a close interest in the design of the churches he was
associated with, both as a rector and later as Bishop. 2
The 1893 building of St. Peter's Church is an excellent example of the
late Victorian approach to Gothic architecture. 3 It has a
cruciform (cross-shaped) plan and uses the pointed arches that are Gothic
trademarks. The front facade is asymmetrical, however, with a tower
containing the main entrance at the north corner, and a one-story
semi-circular baptistry and a one-story side vestibule projecting at the
south corner. The architect chose his materials to achieve ornamental
effect: smooth light-red brick, rough dark-red brick, molded ornamental
brick, smooth-carved brown sandstone, rough-faced brown sandstone, plus
wooden window and door frames. The variety of natural color and texture
produce a decoration that is integral to the building, rather than just
added on. This concept was made popular by the great Victorian architectural
theorist John Ruskin, whose 1849 book The Seven Lamps of Architecture
may well have been in Rev. Cheshire's library.
In massing, St. Peter's is shaped like a cross, with the nave forming the
main upright. and the transepts forming the arms of the cross. The nave has
gabled roof, flanked by a pair of lower
shed-roofed side aisles. The transepts are a pair of projecting gabled
bays. The nave end transept roofs are covered with
rectangular in shape, but with three courses of octagonal slates and
three courses of
fish-scale-shaped slates. A sandstone-colored cresting runs along the
ridgelines and a cross surmounts the intersection of the roof gables.
Sandstone parapets at the gable ends rise slightly above the roof line. The
front parapet is decorated with stone crockets and a cross. Side eaves are
very shallow and are boxed with wooden molding. Between the main gable roof
and the aisle roofs is a clerestory band of wood pierced by paired trefoil
The front of the church features a large round window above a row of six
tall and narrow rectangular windows. The round window is now a "rose window
," with spoke-like stone or concrete mullions dating from the 1948-51
renovations. Originally this window had a single large work of stained
glass. Most of the front facade is of rough red brick laid in
common bond. A course of rough sandstone crosses the gable above the
rose window. Around the rose window is an arch of smooth brick with a
corbeled and molded drip molding, and a circle of the same smooth brick
completely surrounds the window. Below the window the rough brick is laid in
basket-weave bond, down to a corbelled and molded sandstone course.
There the common bond resumes for several courses, down to the heavy lintel
shared by the six rectangular windows. This lintel is rough sandstone, but
has a blind trefoil arch above each window. At the top end bottom of the
window row, courses of rough sandstone extend across the facade. To the left
of the window row, the curved wall of the baptistry extends out from the
front facade. The one-story baptistry has a conical roof sheathed in slate,
and rectangular windows whose colored glass was salvaged from the 1857
The church tower was originally intended to hold a steeple, according to
current rector Huntington Williams, Jr., but the steeple was never built and
today the two-story brick and sandstone tower rises to a point somewhat
below the main roof of the church. Buttresses, capped in sandstone, at the
corners of the tower give it a Gothic flavor. Like the front facade, the
tower is built of rough red brick laid in common bond. A narrow course of
molded sandstone and a wider course of rough sandstone accent the top of the
structure. Another rough sandstone course marks the top of the second-story
window, and a wide carved sandstone band provides a visual break between
stories. The main entrance to the church, located in the front base of the
tower, has a
pointed Gothic arch accented with smooth red brick and carved sandstone.
Above the arch are two "Stars of David' carved in sandstone, a symbol
associated with St. Peter. The entrance itself has heavy double doors of
wood, with a carved shield above depicting linked keys and an upside-down
cross, more symbols of St. Peter. Sandstone steps lead down from the doorway
to the churchyard. Next to the entrance is the sandstone cornerstone with
the carved notation "St. Peter's Church Built 1857: Rebuilt 1890 -1892.
Domus Dei Ports Coeli." ( It was common practice in the period to talk of a
church being "rebuilt" even if the congregation constructed an entirely new
building, and it was also common practice to carve the cornerstone before
construction was completed, and usually even before it was begun).
The sides of St. Peter's Episcopal Church have wide Gothic-arched aisle
windows separated by sandstone-capped buttresses. Walls are of dark
rough-faced brick laid in common bond, accented by a sill course and base of
rough sandstone. The archway above each window opening is of smooth bright
red brick topped by a molded and corbelled brick drip mold. The easy curves
of the window openings identify them as being of early English derivation,
though the triple windows inside each opening have much more sharply pointed
arches. With one exception, the stained glass is from Lamb Studios of
Tenefly, New Jersey, and dates from the 1951 renovation. These windows
depict the life of Christ, from baptism to ascension. The exception is on
the north aisle and is quickly identifiable by its cool subtle coloring,
which contrasts noticeably with the bright colors of the Lamb Studios. This
window, depicting the resurrection, is by the famed Tiffany Studios.
Near the rear of the side facades are the projecting gabled forms of the
transepts. Their facades each echo the front facade, with rough brick and
sandstone banding, and a big round window above a row of rectangular
windows. As with the front, the round transept windows were recently
converted to a rose windows, in this case in 1980. Masonry work is similar
to, but not identical with the front, with the most notable change being
Gothic arches of smooth molded brick above the rectangular windows. Colored
glass in the north transept comes from the 1857 church, and was placed in
this location during the 1948-51 renovations. On the south side of the
church there is a small vestibule, originally a porch, which was sensitively
enclosed in wood about that same time.
The Parish House
The rear facade of the 1893 church is no longer visible, for it is
covered by the 1914 Parish House addition. This functional yet handsome
brick structure is two stories tall on a high basement. It is "U" shaped in
massing, to fit around the chancel of the 1893 church, and it has a main
gable-roofed wing with two
hip-roofed arms. The red-brick exterior with sandstone accents has an
Italianate flavor which blends well with the original building, though its
form and decoration are much less ornate than the sanctuary.
Roofs are slate. The gable end facing Seventh Street rises above the
roofline to form a small sandstone-capped parapet. Elsewhere eaves are left
with rafters exposed. The Seventh Street gable features a large stained
glass window at the second story level, its Gothic arch accented with
sandstone. The wooden tracery and stained glass inside this window was
restored in the 1980s. Other windows facing Seventh Street are simple
rectangular double-hung sash units with sandstone sills and lintels: first
floor windows have stained glass while those on the second floor are plain.
The main entrance to the Parish house is on the Seventh Street facade. It is
a round arched opening containing stairs up to a heavy wooden door. The rear
facade of the Parish house is the simplest. Eight bays wide, it features
very plain brickwork, except for buttresses between several bays and
segmental arches above the paired first story windows.
The interiors of St. Peter's Episcopal Church have seen changes over the
years, but most have been done carefully and have not harmed the original
architectural character of the complex.
The main body of the original 1893 church remains almost exactly as shown
in early photos, except for the stained glass windows already mentioned. A
wood-ribbed barrel vault shelters the central portion of the space. Gothic
arches of dark wood march down either side, marking the "aisle" areas. The
heavy wooden pews are said to be original.
The renovations of 1948-51 included major alterations to the ends of the
nave, however. A new screen of oak was added in the narthex. The sanctuary
end was completely redesigned with a large carved stone reredos, mosaic, and
a new altar, with the woodwork lining this semi-circular space painted
off-white. The old altar, a nineteenth century donation by the Myers family,
still survives in another part of the church). The south transept holds
choir pews, and the Austin pipe organ there dates from 1940. Next to the
north transept was the vestry room until 1914 when the Parish House was
added. At that time the vestry room was converted to a small chapel. It
features paneled wainscoting in a trefoil motif, and over its door is the
carved shield and keys of St. Peter.
In the Parish House, one enters from Seventh Street into a large
stairhall. A Gothic-arched double door of wood leads toward the 1893 church,
through the chapel. The first floor of the Parish House was renovated as
offices and meeting rooms in the 1960s and finished in plywood paneling. The
stair to the second floor retains its original square newels and heavy
square balustrade. The second floor once held two small classrooms at the
top of the stair, and a large meeting hall under a soaring gable roof. The
meeting hall was later broken up into classrooms, under a dropped ceiling.
These rooms feature molded baseboards, and along their outside walls they
have beveled tongue-and-groove wainscoting which may date to the building's
original construction. The basement of the Parish House is said to have been
only partially excavated originally, but is now a high-ceiling space that
holds the church's soup kitchen and dining room for street people.
The small front yard and side yards around the 1893 building of St.
Peter's Episcopal Church form a quiet bit of greenery in the midst of the
city. In addition to trees and grass, landscaping includes a cast-iron fence
along the street ( replacing an early wooden picket fence and a later fence
of metal pipe, shown in early photographs), brick and concrete walks, and
several cast metal plaques with poetic quotes. Much of this work was
accomplished in the 1940s and 1950s under the guidance of Edwin and
Elizabeth Clarkson, Charlotte naturalists known for their "Winghaven" bird
sanctuary in the city.
The Parish House occupies virtually the full width of the lot, and has no
side yards. Behind it is an asphalt parking lot.
1 Historical information in this essay is drawn from St.
Peter's Episcopal Church. 1834- l984. A Fond Remembrance (Charlotte: St.
Peter's Church, l984).
2 Joseph Blount Cheshire, "St. Peter's Episcopal Church:
Historical Addresses from Colonial Days to l893," 1921, in the vertical
files at the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Public Library. For another
local church whose construction Cheshire directed, see Janette Thomas
Greenwood, "St. Marks Episcopal Church: Survey and Research Report"
(Charlotte: Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission, 1983).
3 A useful work on English church design, and on church
architecture in general, is Richard Foster, Discovering English Churches
( New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). Incidentally, no direct
prototype for St. Peter's could be found in several works on English church
design consulted in the course of my research. For more on the Victorian era
in America see Marcus Whiffen, American Architecture Since l780: A Guide
to the Styles ( Cambridge, Massachusetts: M.I.T. Press, 1969).