Located in downtown St. Louis, the Christ Church Cathedral complex includes the 500-seat Cathedral itself, the Bofinger Chapel and the Bishop Tuttle Memorial (BTM) building.
The Cathedral and Chapel are primarily worship spaces while the BTM houses our clergy offices, the offices of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, the Episcopal City Mission as well as ministry and meeting spaces for our congregation, our guests and our faith partners.
Four years before St. Louis was chartered as a city in 1823, Christ Church was being organized by 26 people who assembled for a service in a building that previously had been used as a public hall for dances and a courtroom. That service on October 24, 1819, was the first for a Episcopal–Anglican congregation west of the Mississippi River.
A few days later, on November 1, 1819, the congregation formed a parish. Among those signers of its Articles of Association were explorer William Clark (of Lewis and Clark), soon-to-be Missouri's first governor Alexander McNair (who beat out Clark for the job), future U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton and St. Louis’ first mayor ,William Carr Lane. The fledgling congregation eventually raised enough money to build a church at Third and Chestnut Streets, which opened its doors in 1829. Seven years later, the growing congregation began construction of a larger parish church at Fifth and Chestnut Streets.
Although the Civil War divided the congregation and delayed construction of the new building, the new and current church finally opened in 1867. It was dedicated on Christmas Day of that year and designated the Cathedral of the Diocese of Missouri in 1888.
Ours is an inspiring space for worship, prayer and advocacy for our neighborhood and city.
Designed by Leopold Eidlitz of New York, the Cathedral is an example of 14th century Early English Gothic and is cruciform in design. The Cathedral is well-known for its stained glass windows and Aeolian-Skinner organ
, but its crowning glory is its reredos.
Rising 35 feet behind the main altar is the elegantly carved reredos, sculpted from cream-colored stone excavated from the quarries at Beer Quarry Caves
, near the town of Beer, close to the city of Exeter, England. The reredos, carved between 1909 and 1911 and shipped to the Cathedral in 230 cases, consists of 52 religious figures and biblical scenes in stone.
The bells in the Cathedral tower were cast by the same German foundry that did the bells for the German Pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The largest bell weighs 5,732 pounds, making it the biggest in the state of Missouri.
The Cathedral was designated a National Historic Landmark
by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior in 1994. The designation is given to buildings, sites and objects deemed to be of exceptional significance in U.S. history and culture.
The banners of the many congregations of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri are integral to the meaning of Christ Church Cathedral. These banners convey to visitors they are not just visiting a Cathedral congregation—rather, they are encountering the whole diocese. Moreover, the banners tell Episcopalians from Diocesan congregations that when they come to their Cathedral, they are coming home.
Click on the PDF below for guidelines your congregation can use in making a banner to be hung in the Cathedral.
or call our Cathedral office at (314) 231-3454 to arrange a guided tour of the Cathedral and the Bishop Tuttle Memorial building, which contains event and meeting spaces. Self-guided tours are also available. Learn more about the reredos and heritage of Christ Church Cathedral in our online brochures.