Arts & Architecture
Welcome to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Built in the style of a large English parish church of the Middle Ages, it includes beautiful materials such as stone, stained glass, carved wood, wrought iron, and fabric. The building is designed to reflect our Christian faith, teach, and inspire through image, symbol and story, and to remind us of the glory of God in our midst.
We invite you to explore the beauty of St. Paul’s in its arts and architecture. Overview brochures are available at the rear of the nave.
There are free guided tours available for parishioners and the general public. Check the tour schedule (link to cal) to sign up and experience this history in person, or scroll to expore a detailed walkthough.
The building we know as St. Paul’s is the third home of the parish, which was organized in 1876.
Built in 1928 at the highest point in Winston-Salem, it was designed by Ralph Adams Cram of Boston, the most important ecclesiastical architect of the early 20th Century. An authority on medieval architecture, Cram was a prominent Episcopalian and is honored by a feast day on December 16. He is best known for designing the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Thomas Church in New York City and much of Princeton University.
Cram designed St. Paul’s after typical English churches of the medieval period. The plan is cruciform with a great bell tower over the crossing.
Medieval churches took hundreds of years to build, often reflecting changes in technology, building practices, and fashions. St. Paul’s cleverly blends styles from many periods.The nave is “Early English” (13th Century) style. The chancel, transepts and east front are in “Decorated” (14th Century) style, and the crossing bell tower is in “Perpendicular” (15th Century) style. The choir stalls and organ screens are Tudor and Elizabethan (16th Century) style. The High Altar reflects the latest scholarship and ecclesiastical practices of Cram’s time. Altars with riddel posts topped by angels holding candles were thought to be the true medieval altar.
St. Paul’s is fortunate to have this architectural treasure that is so little changed from the time it was built. The absence of major alterations make the church unique among Cram’s designs and shows the dedication and stewardship of the many parishioners who have appreciated this wonderful gift to the city of Winston-Salem. St. Paul’s is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Stained Glass Windows
St. Paul’s has 80 stained glass windows, including works by Wright Goodhue; Tiffany; Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstack; Willet Studios; J. G. Rey and Associates; and Rowan LeCompte.
A proper overview of the windows begins with the large window above the High Altar and proceeds clockwise in the nave.
One of the most distinctive elements of St. Paul's might be the most traditional--our English altar.
As part of the sanctuary design in 1928, Ralph Adams Cram gave us this unique centerpiece of worship, an English configuration rarely seen among Cram's gothic revival themes.
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Rite of Confirmation, which were originally one rite of Christian initiation, are symbolically represented in the woodcarvings in the Baptistry of St. Paul’s Church.
In Christian art, symbols are used as a means of expressing infinite truths in finite language. The inner and spiritual meaning of these Signs of our Faith are revealed when they are identified with the Sacramental Life of the Church, through which God bestows His Gifts of Grace.
Statue of St. Paul
The life-sized Statue of St. Paul captures the moment he recognizes Christ’s call and his sword is transformed into a cross. It was created in limestone by artists from Washington National Cathedral, sculptor Jay Carpenter and master stone carver Vincent Palumbo.
Winston-Salem Journal reporter Freda Satterwhite wrote the following article about the statue on the Saturday before its dedication in 1989.
Stations of the Cross
The devotion known as the Way of the Cross is an adaptation to local usage of a custom widely observed by pilgrims to Jerusalem: the offering of prayer at a series of places in that city traditionally associated with our Lord’s passion and death. The stations appeared on this route as the early pilgrims prayed at places where it was believed that specific incidents took places as Jesus went to the cross.
St. Paul’s has two artistic representations of the fourteen Stations of the Cross: woodcuts by Noyes Capehart are displayed in the nave during Lent, and needlepoint panels are hung in the Chapel.
On a daily basis, the majestic tones of the Skinner and Fisk organs fill the main sanctuary and St. Paul's Chapel.
Click below to learn more of the story behind these historical beacons.
Many of the beautiful works of art at St. Paul’s were given by parishioners, often in memory or in honor of loved ones, mentors, or others.
Beyond the dedications of the stained glass windows, there are many additional memorials.
In 2004, during the construction of St. Paul’s latest addition, the vestry approved a master landscape plan by Little and Little Landscape Architecture of Raleigh, N.C. Generous donations made these plantings possible and by 2008 the masterplan had been largely implemented. The development of St. Paul’s gardens is ongoing and faithfully tended by a group of dedicated volunteers.
Many hands and hearts, both staff and volunteers, have been involved in this process over the years and many more will be needed to ensure that St. Paul’s Church continues to be as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside. New volunteers are always welcome.
Labyrinths have a long history associated with prayer and meditation. The most famous medieval labyrinth is found at Chartres Cathedral in northern France. Architect and parishioner Marc Bryson designed the chapel labyrinth at St. Paul’s in a classical 7-circuit pattern using decorative patterns based on Chartres.
You enter the labyrinth facing east, following the one path that will take you to the center.
Although some books suggest that a labyrinth served as a substitute for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the earliest use of the phrase “chemin de Jerusalem” (path to Jerusalem) dates to the late 18th century.
St. Paul’s labyrinth is constructed of Turkish travertine chosen by Zanne Baker and was a gift from the mother of The Rev. Don P. Goodheart, St. Paul’s Rector from 1997-2007.