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Local History




St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church was established in 1851 mainly to serve the Irish who were laboring in gold mines in and around Charlotte. Two of the largest mines, the Rudisell and the St. Catherine's, were close by. That's probably why St. Peter's located on what was then the southern edge of town. The current church building, which was erected in 1878, is the only 19th century structure remaining on South Tryon Street, except for the fanciful Victorian Eastlake style rectory next door, which was completed in 1897. Notice the rectory's keyhold window.

The Roman Catholics of St. Peter's have contributed greatly to the quality of life in Charlotte over the years. Charlotte's Mercy Hospital, now located in the Elizabeth neighborhood, originated with the Sisters of Mercy in 1906 in a frame building that used to stand behind the church. More recently, in 1987, Father John Haughey secured the services of artist Ben Long to fashion a magnificent religious fresco on the front wall of the sanctuary. It's worth a trip inside to see this wondrous work of art. The sanctuary is open 10 AM-12 PM and 1-4 PM Monday through Saturday.


  • Having trouble identifying brick patterns, shingle patterns, or other parts? See the Illustrated Guidebook for help!
  • On the interior is a fresco by NC native Ben Long. A fresco is a special kind of painting that was done in Europe mainly during the Renaissance. To make a fresco, an artist paints the picture onto wet lime plaster on the wall. When it dries, the picture actually becomes part of the wall. The fresco in St. Peter's is a triptych (divided into three parts). The parts are: Agony in the Garden, Resurrection of the Lord, and Pentecost. Each part took about a month to complete, but the finished fresco took two years to completely dry. Because of the lime (as in limestone, not the fruit!) in the plaster, the fresco can appear to have a glow to it, depending on how the light hits it.


    At the site...

  • Go inside and see the fresco! Sketch details and write your observations so that you can complete the activity listed below.

    On your own...

  • Compare the St. Peter's fresco with one of the most famous frescoes of them all, the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo at the Vatican in Rome, Italy (pictured below). Look for similarities and differences in design elements, colors, and composition.
    Two representative photos showing details of the Sistine Chapel:

    Create a Venn Diagram that shows the similarities and differences between these two frescoes.
  • Do some research on your own to find examples of other triptychs and frescoes. Create Venn Diagrams to illustrate similarities and differences between those examples and the one at St. Peter's.