Faith-Based Architecture

Churches made St. Louis great

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

St. Louis is one of the greatest cities in the United States for exploring the magnificent architecture of American churches from all Christian denominations. The city’s strong Catholic roots, still powerfully expressed through the Archdiocese of St. Louis, are expressed in the great St. Louis Basilica, but also in other churches, cathedrals, basilicas, and worship halls around the city. Most are still functioning, but some have closed because of the city’s precipitous population loss from nearly 900,000 in 1950 to nearly 300,000 in the 2010 census.

Churches from the Catholic and Protestant strains of Christianity provide testimonials to the city’s confidence in itself, its industry, its people, its future, and its identity that the city may have been favored by their lord and protector. I challenge anyone to give me a greater constellation of churches in an urban area than St. Louis. I’m sure Detroit, Chicago, and maybe New York might offer a good fight.

Here is a sample of four churches I took during my last visit. One, St. Agnes Church, owned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, closed in 1993. It fell victim to the city’s slow and painful decay.

Temple Beth Israel of Portland

During my explorations of Portland, I am stumbling on many beautiful and sturdy houses of worship. Many of these date to the early and mid-1900s in this city. Temple Beth Israel, in the city’s northwest neighborhood, is among the most beautiful of all structures dedicated to the celebration of and expression of faith. The building, built in neo-Byzantine style (meaning duplicating the style of the great Hagia Sofia Church in Istanbul), is on the National Register of Historic Places. I used my GoPro to snap these first round of photos, and some members of the congregation graciously let me in to see the beautiful interior. I loved it. I hope to photograph as many of these stately buildings as I can on my free hours. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a seperate picture page.)