BNHA Lovely Lane Methodist Church
Baltimore City Landmark
National Register of Historic Places
Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century
Charles Street Byway
Points of Interest
2200 St Paul St
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Designed by Stanford White, this Saint Paul Street church was built between 1882 and 1887. The church is designed in the Romanesque style of the early churches and basilicas in Ravenna, Italy. The entire exterior is constructed of gray, ashlar, rock-face Port Deposit granite, creating an effect of massiveness broken only by the strictly limited ornamentation. There are deep porticos on both the south and east facades, with round arches and columns, and wide flights of steps leading to the massive doors. Small rows of leaded windows penetrate the walls in the apse and at the clerestory level. The roof is covered with deep red Spanish tiles.
The most outstanding exterior feature is the square bell tower patterned after the campanile of the church of the 12th-century Santa Maria Abbey near Ravenna, Italy. It rises in nine tiers, each growing smaller as they rise to the heavens, each separated by string courses with small windows, corner pinnacles, and a concave conical roof. A light is always glowing in the upper windows of each face of the tower.
The sanctuary of this church is another one of Baltimore’s most glorious rooms. A fat oval in plan, the plain deep red walls rise to row of small windows all around. Along one end of the oval, a carved, dark wooden balcony is cantilevered from the wall to face the pulpit and bank of organ pipes on the other end of the space. The pulpit is a reproduction of the one at Saint Apollunaris’ in Ravenna. Above it all is one of the most beautiful domed ceilings in the world. Recently restored to the original saturated colors, the painted dome is a vision of the heavens just before sunset along with stars and clouds and the proper allegorical figures. And according to local myth, this heaven is not an ordinary one, but one that captures the location of the stars and planets that hovered over Baltimore the morning that the church was dedicated.
Dr. John F. Goucher, who also founded Goucher College, was the pastor of the Lovely Lane Church at the time it built. The complex is now referred to as the “Mother Church of American Methodism.” Lovely Lane houses a museum that focuses on the birth and history of the Methodist denomination. The church was designated a city landmark in 1971 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.