Julie Darsie, Betty Bird and Associates
Holy Cross Church Complex
106-112, West St., E., Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Holy Cross Church Complex is a group of four brick buildings comprised of an 1860 Gothic Revival church (remodeled in 1885 and 1907), an 1871 Italianate rectory-convent, a 1903 Romanesque Revival school, and a 1928 Tudor Revival rectory. Remnants of a c. 1865 wrought iron fence stand in front of the church and 1871 rectory-convent. Although the complex occupies most of a city block, all of the buildings face south onto East West Street. The centerpiece of the complex is the 1860 church. The highly detailed Gothic Revival building has a cruciform plan arranged with its long side along East West Street and its apse on the east. A 180' steeple comprised of a 125' tower and a 55' copper-clad spire rises from the southeast corner. The entry is at the west end of the south facade. The church is constructed of brick with granite detail, and has a slate gable roof. The pointed-arched window openings contain stained glass, and have molded brick or granite drip molds and granite sills. The brick buttresses between the bays have granite caps. Buttresses at the corners of the building and between the bays of the apse rise above the roofline and end in carved stone finials. A corbeled brick cornice lies beneath the eaves, while a sawtooth brick cornice ornaments the gable ends of the roof. On the interior, the nave has a wide center aisle. Shrine-altars, confessionals, and Stations of the Cross line the side aisles beneath the c. 1870s stained glass windows. A c. 1870s marble altar stands in the semicircular apse. A shallow choir loft at the west end of the sanctuary contains the 1886 organ with its stenciled pipes. The sanctuary has oak pews, marble floors and wainscoting, pressed tin upper walls, and a pressed tin ceiling. Marbleized tin encases the steel posts that support the groin vaults. The rectory-convent, constructed in 1871 and raised to three stories in 1903, stands immediately east of the church. This unassuming Italianate brick building consists of a three-story, five-bay main block with a raised basement and a flat roof, a two-story wing with a gable roof, and a one-story flat-roofed addition. The south facade has a marble raised basement and pressed brick facade. The pressed tin Italianate cornice has a frieze of panels featuring classical swags beneath scrolled modillion blocks. The 1/1 sash windows have brick segmental arches and granite sills. The interior has a center passage, double pile plan. Finishes consist of hardwood floors, plaster walls, simple moldings, plaster ceilings with rosettes, and marbleized fireplace mantels. The 1903 school at the east end of the complex is three stories high and five bays wide, constructed of brick with granite detail in the Romanesque Revival style. The 1928 Tudor Revival rectory stands immediately west of the church is 2 1/2 stories high and three bays wide, with a fieldstone foundation, brick walls with granite detail, and a cross-gable roof. Details on the south facade include parapeted gables, label molds, Tudor arches, single and grouped casement windows, and bartizans. This facade features prominent front gables with granite coping flanking the central entrance. Caved stone crosses accent the gables. At the second story level, small brick bartizans with granite finial balls project from the corners and each side of the center bay. The secondary facades of the rectory also have parapeted gables. The casement windows have brick jack arches and sills. The interior has a center passage double pile plan. Finishes consist of hardwood floors, plaster walls and ceilings, and plain molding.
The Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church complex, comprised of a church, rectory-convent, school, and rectory, provided the institutional foundation for South Baltimore's German Catholic community during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Part of a German national parish, the original church was designed by German-born Baltimore architect Anton Pohl and constructed with the help of German parishioners. Holy Cross is historically significant for its association with South Baltimore's large German community, specifically the institutional role it played in supporting this immigrant ethnic group. The Archdiocese listed the church as a German parish until 1959.