Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains (Cincinnati, Ohio)

MacKaron, Erissa, Photographer
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St. Peter in Chains Cathedral has served as the seat for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati since its construction in 1841, with the exception of a brief period in the mid-19th century (1938-1957). The design of the building stemmed from the European travels of Archbishop John B. Purcell (1800-1883). Purcell was particularly drawn to Dublin's St. George and London's St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Stylistic elements from these two buildings certainly found their way in the plans of Henry Walter. The cathedral's main walls and columns are of Dayton marble and its foundation of blue sandstone. The original building consisted of a Greek Temple plan slightly smaller in scale than the Parthenon. The Corinthian columns on the hexastyle portico lack bases. Their capitals are comprised of delicate acanthus leaves derived from the capitals on the Tower of the Winds in Athens. The tower was modeled after those of Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) and James Gibbs' (1682-1754) tower on St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The tower is an example of a broach spire and soars 221 feet above the ground. The spire's seemingly Gothic verticality is a counter to the horizontal emphasis of the Greek Temple plan. The cathedral underwent a restoration between 1952-1957 supervised by architect Edward J. Schulte. This renovation included the addition of a north and south transept, stone tracery to the nave windows, front granite stairs, an extension to Central Avenue, and a rebuilding of the spire. The interior also received an overhaul with the addition of an altar mosaic by Anton Wendling, a fresco cycle depicting the Stations of the Cross by Carl Zimmerman in a Greek Red and Black figure ware style. Bronze doors issue the visitor in the black marble-faced narthex.