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History

Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church houses a body of Christians documented as the continuing congregation of the Elizabeth River Parish established in the late 1630’s by English people in the area now known as Norfolk – our banner is dated 1637. The location of the first two Borough Churches isn’t known, but the 1739 building was abandoned in 1800 when the congregation moved across the street to their new building. When it burned in 1826, Christ Church then moved to a building on Freemason Street.  From this background a second parish was formed in 1832 and the Vestry of Christ Church authorized them to refurbish the old Borough Church and it was named “Saint Paul’s.” This parish continues in operation today. In 1872 a third parish, Saint Luke’s was created. As Norfolk grew, other Episcopal parishes were formed. In 1909 Christ Church decided to move to the new suburb of Ghent and laid the cornerstone for the current building on October 28, 1909, the feast of St. Simon & St. Jude. Opening services were held on Christmas Day, 1910.

A fire severely damaged the building in November, 1914, but the church immediately began repairs, meeting in movie theaters and other churches and synagogues in the area, and rededicated the building on Easter Day, 1915. In 1912 Saint Andrew’s was established in West Ghent. St. Luke’s had built a magnificent building on Granby Street (currently the location of the Federal Courts) but it was destroyed by a lightning fire in 1921 and they moved to Colonial Avenue (adjacent to H. D. Oliver’s Funeral Apartments). Given the economic realities in 1935 the Bishop decided to consolidate St. Luke’s, St. Andrew’s, and Christ Church.  Christ Church was renamed Christ & St. Luke’s reflecting the two congregations while St. Andrews continued to worship in their own facility on Graydon Avenue.  With the improving economy, St. Andrew's became a separate parish from Christ & St. Luke's in 1940.

Christ & St. Luke’s is a magnificent example of English perpendicular architecture as interpreted by the Gothic Revivalists of the mid and late nineteenth century. The Reverend Dr. Francis Steinmetz, Rector 1908 – 1927, can truly be called the “author.” He in fact assumed direct supervision of the construction upon the death of the construction manager. Watson & Huckle, Philadelphia architects were advised by Ralph Adams Cram of Boston, who clearly was influenced by Richard Upjohn, the Cambridge Camden Society and the Oxford Movement.

Among the dignitaries attending the laying of the cornerstone in 1909 was William Howard Taft, President of the United States. Christ & St. Luke’s has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979.

Exterior
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