Building Baltimore: The Shaping of Baltimore City's Religious Landscape

Page, Meghan, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Nelson, Louis, PV-Ofc of Exec VP & Provost, University of Virginia
Wilson, Richard, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia
Johnston, Andrew, AR-Arch History Dept, University of Virginia

Social politics play a critical role in Baltimore’s early nineteenth century religious architecture. The best way to examine this dynamic is through an urban topographical lens, mapping the development and growth of the City. No previous analysis of Baltimore’s religious architecture and social politics exists on this scale. Architecture is a window into the mind of its builders, architects, commissioners, and community. Through observing a building’s features, along with those in its surroundings, one can learn what may have been the original meaning behind its design and appearance. This thesis is a comparative analysis of church architecture between 1800 and 1825, focusing on five different denominational structures, the Catholic Cathedral, St. Mary’s Seminary Chapel, St. Paul’s Protestant Episcopal and the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. By examining these structures in a singular context, the nuances between the styles are uncovered; although the common Neoclassical or Gothic styles may have been used, the meaning and intent changed drastically between each congregation. A careful examination of the 1822 Thomas H. Poppleton, Plan of the City of Baltimore, provides a visual, stylistic, and geographic mode of analysis. Using an urban topographical study, this thesis argues that stylistic choices in ecclesiastical construction reveal the relative ethnic and cultural identities of each group, within the societal tabula rasa context of the New World and the developing city of Baltimore. Chapter One consists of the urban topographical study of Baltimore and implements a series of historical maps to understand the history of the City. Chapters Two, Three, Four and Five focus on the four Christian denominations, attempting to understand what elements of their history influenced their architectural choices in the nineteenth century.

MARH (Master of Architectural History)
Religion , Architecture , Catholic , Protestant , Episcopal , Unitarian , German Lutheran , Urban Topography, Neoclassical, Gothic, First Unitarian Church, Zion German Lutheran Church, St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, Catholic Cathedral, St. Mary's Seminary Chapel , Christianity, Social Politics, Thomas H. Poppleton, Baltimore, Maryland, Identity, Nineteenth Century, Church, Chapel, Cathedral
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