St. Paul’s is the “Mother Church” of Bristol Parish formed in 1643. The present church building, with a richly decorated Victorian sanctuary in the Gothic Revival style, was designed by Niernsee & Neilson and built between 1855 and 1857. The church is constructed of brick and features a three-story entrance tower. Also on the property are a contributing rectory (c. 1860) and parish house (1922). The 175-foot steeple houses the only notable set of antebellum church bells in Virginia. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark.
General Robert E. Lee worshiped at St. Paul’s during the Siege of Petersburg from June 1864 to April 1865. During the Civil War, Major General George Pickett was married here. After the war, General Lee’s son, Rooney, was wed here to Jane Bolling of Centre Hill—an event that served as a grand reunion of Confederate officers. During the post-war years, the church was instrumental in establishing a school to train African-Americans to be Episcopal ministers.
Of breathtaking beauty are the panels behind the altar called a reredos. The reredos at St. Paul’s consists of five panels, each depicting a time in the life of Christ: His nativity, His baptism, His Crucifixion, and His ascension. The panels are authentic to the true Venetian craft and the middle panel features iridescent glass tiles and was created by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The reredos is crowned by a large window depicting the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus.
The sanctuary is graced throughout by remarkable stained-glass windows that are intended by their artists to be a central part of the church worship service. They help create an atmosphere in much the same way music does. Many of the windows tell interesting stories. Each of the teen large windows are split into two halves, separated by the balcony on each side of the sanctuary.
St. Paul's Church is a diverse family that knows the unconditional love of God, and respects and welcomes all to share the Gospel of Christ.
110 N Union St
Petersburg, VA 23803
© 2021 by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Site created by Michael Maszaros.