Centennial Lecture Series: Saint Thomas Architecture

Thursday, May 1, 2014
Saint Philip and Saint James

Saint Philip and Saint James

Almighty God, who didst give to thine apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

6:30 PM


This event begins at approximately 6:30pm. It follows the Festal Eucharist sung by the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, which begins at 5:30pm. All are welcome.

On August 8, 1905, Saint Thomas Church burned to the ground, leaving only the tower of the building designed by Richard Upjohn standing amidst the smoking rubble. Within hours the young rector Ernest M. Stires was on the scene, assessing the loss of priceless murals by John La Farge and the ruined statuary of the reredos by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Without hesitation, he confirmed that the church would be rebuilt on the same spot and that it would “be of Gothic architecture and design.” The result is the glorious building designed by the architectural firm Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson – the fourth known to this parish since its founding in 1824 – where we worship today.

In this final centennial lecture of our year-long celebration, Inge Reist, art historian at The Frick Collection and vestryman of Saint Thomas, takes us through the steps of the competition for the commission and the rebuilding of the church. At the same time, she explains why the Gothic Style has come to be so strongly identified with houses of God and how the architects of Saint Thomas borrowed design and decorative elements from Gothic architectural masterpieces of medieval France (the cathedrals of Troyes, Bourges, and Amiens) and England (Winchester Cathedral), to make Saint Thomas a classic example of Gothic Revival Architecture.