MHT File Photo
St. Luke's Church
217, Carey St., N., Baltimore, Baltimore City
St. Luke’s is a Gothic Revival Church designed following the dictates of the Ecclesiological Society, who maintained that ecclesiastical architecture should follow the example of English medieval building principles. Following Gothic precedents, St. Luke’s is comprised of a tall nave, flanked by side aisles below a clerestory. At the southwest corner, there is a crenelated tower with lancet windows. (The present spindly spire does not relate to Gothic Revival architecture.) The chancel, properly, is located at the east end of the church and is a distinct unit. The separation is expressed by the smaller size of the chancel in comparison with the nave. St. Luke’s has two transepts, although the north one was expanded after the completion of the church and is too large for strict ecclesiological principles. The majority of the windows are lancet-shaped in the 14th century English Gothic tradition. Rose windows exist at the west end of the nave and along the clerestory. The clerestory windows have stone quatrefoil tracery. All the corners are buttressed, as are the aisles. The interior of St. Luke’s embodies the High Church principles of the ecclesiologists. The stations of the cross and the religious statues are two examples. The rood screen located at the entrance to the chancel separates the congregation from the celebration of the sacraments, following ecclesiological demands.
The largest Episcopal church in Baltimore upon its completion, St. Luke’s is a landmark in the early 19th century American Gothic Revival. The extant church is the work of J.W. Priest, an important American architect. Its significance lies in the fact that it embodies many of the architectural characteristics of the ecclesiological movement and as the work of J.W. Priest. Historically, the construction of St. Luke’s is of interest because so many architects were involved in it: Robert Cary Long, Jr., John Notman, Frank Wills, the firm of Niernsee and Nielson, and finally, J.W. Priest.