The Church of Saint Katherine of Alexandria - Built As A Lighthouse On A City Street Corner in Baltimore

The Origin of the Name of the Church

The Church of St. Katharine of Alexandria was named to honor a fourth century Egyptian maiden, Katharine, who was martyred.  She is traditionally depicted with the spiked wheel on which she was tortured. When the wheel broke, her tormentors beheaded her.  Her body was placed in a monastery on Mt. Sinai.

Research of early documents indicated that the original spelling of the Church was St. Katharine with two “A’s”, however over the years the spelling was changed to the more traditional spelling. Also Alexandria was added to the name of the church.  During our 100th year anniversary there was an unsuccessful attempt to return to the original spelling. 

Legacy of Leadership

In 1891 when Saint Katherine was started as a mission by Mt. Calvary, The Reverend N.H. Kaltenbach conducted services in a house located at Gilmor and Presstman Streets.  When the church moved into its present location in 1911, The Reverend G. A. Griffiths conducted services and in 1913 The Reverend R. H. M. Baker served while a permanent priest was sought.  In 1914, The Reverend O.W. DeVinish began his twenty-seven year tenure, the longest in the history of the church. After his tenure from 1941until 1949 there were a series of priests, The Reverends Kenworthy, Sheridan, Ashburton, Crisbell, and Rubino.  During World War II with the various priests remaining for short intervals, making changes, and leaving the church in chaos, the church was continuously starting over again.  However, in 1949, The Reverend Guy E. Kagey, who was a gentle man served for nine years.  After Father Kagey retired on January 1, 1957, he continued his pastorate until the arrival of The Reverend William Christian, the new Vicar who served nine years. Sister Ruth Vera served four years with him.  There were two more priests assigned to the church before the church received its independence from Mt. Calvary, in 1968 The Reverend William Lowry and in 1973, the Reverend Samuel Logan.  It was during Father Logan’s tenure that the church was granted its independence at the annual convention of the Diocese of Maryland in May 1975.  In 1976, The Reverend Peter W. D. Bramble joined the family of St. Kahterine as its first official black priest.  Father Bramble’s tenure of twenty years was the second longest in the history of the church, leaving a legacy of establishing the endowment fund and the building of Penn North Plaza Inc., a sixty six unit Senior Citizen Residence.  From 1996 until now the church has had a series of priests, which have included interim, called, and supply. They included The Reverends Redmond, Jones, Davis, Andrew and Paul.  Father Robert Davis who had a very calming presence served from 2001 until his death in 2002. Father David Andrew, who was a competent leader served us until his return to Canada in June of 2004.  Both Father Davis and Andrew, who endeared themselves to the members of the congregation served and led us through a difficult time of transition, as we prepared to search for a faithful priest to walk with us into the challenges of the twenty-first century.  Following Fr. Andrew was Fr. Michael Paul who served the church from June 2004 to February 2006. From 2006 to May 31, 2009, The Reverend Ronald Miller, served the church as our interim priest. As of June 2009, the church welcomed our present Rector, The Reverend Allston A. Jacobs.

On A Street Corner

St. Katherine’s Chapel was started as a mission for colored people on the corner of Gilmor and Presstman Streets during the latter part of the nineteenth century, under the auspices of Mt. Calvary, a prominent white Episcopal Church in Baltimore.  Also under the auspices of Mt. Calvary there were two homes which provided protection and care for colored youths in the neighborhood, St. Mary’s Home and St. Katharine’s Home.  Both of these homes were run with the help of the Sisters of All Saints. St. Mary’s located at Gilmor and Presstman, housed young boys and St. Katharine’s located at 2001 and 2003 Druid Hill Avenue, provided for about thirty girls.

As the enrollment in the Sunday School and the congregation increased, it became necessary to seek larger quarters for the church mission.  In 1911 the young colored congregation moved into the stone, brick and wooden chapel located on the corner of Presstman and Division Streets.  Before Mt. Calvary purchased the building in 1910, it was originally St. Georges Episcopal Church.  Also in 1910 the statue of St. Katharine was secured and it was placed on the Gospel side of the Sanctuary where it remains today.  The Church was designated as a Maryland Historical Landmark, June 1998.


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