Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shrine of The Immaculate Conception for Phoenix Flies

This was my second Phoenix Flies tour. I did Rhodes Hall on the Saturday. On Sunday I made my first visit to the Catholic Shrine of The Immaculate Conception in downtown Atlanta.

It's just east of the State Capital, see the gold dome? I gather that many of Atlanta's oldest congratulations once had churches in this neighborhood. Today the Shrine, Trinity United Methodist Church, and Central Presbyterian Church remain, all within sight of the Capital.

The Catholic Shrine of The Immaculate Conception is one of the oldest, with written records going to the 1840's. The original wooden church was on the same site as the present building:
"Fr. O’Reilly’s intercessions with Sherman ’s staff also apparently saved the Court House, City Hall, and several other churches including St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Trinity Methodist, Second Baptist, and Central Presbyterian. All were saved from destruction, although most were occupied for various uses by the Union soldiers."
W.H. Parkins designed the current church. Mr. Parkins also designed the noteworthy Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia.

I arrived in the midst of the 11am mass. I did not find a museum piece. I found a bright, roomy space filled with worshipers of every stripe.

The music from organ and choir were heavenly, the congregation sang with gusto to match any Methodist or Baptist church. Tuesday being Mardi Gras the service ended with confetti poppers, and bead throwing, followed by a community dinner.

I grew impatient in the narthex and sneaked-in during the service. But there is no sneaking past the apostles on the glorious ceiling. No sir.

The roof collapsed in the 1982 fire. The apostles are a new feature. They are gigantic.

After the service Larry Ruth gave us the tour.

The choir and organ were up there with a huge window.

Watch my 30 second video to get a sense of the place. My camera doesn't pick up the colors of the glass.

You can't see all the windows and once.

The transept windows yield many interesting views through the columns and arches. But I couldn't even tell they were there until I got far down the aisle.

There is plenty of stained glass but it's doesn't dominate. All the architectural features seemed in balance, the focus on the people.

The marble alter was spectacular but in keeping with the glass, architecture, and ceiling.

I'll leave you with one more picture.


Phoenix Flies continues until March 20.

This is just part of what's happening tomorrow, Thursday, March 17, 2011
  • 12:45 PM Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
  • 2:00 PM Druid Hills Presbyterian Church
  • 2:00 PM Central Presbyterian Church
  • 4:00 PM Architecture Tour of the Georgia Capitol - Georgia Capitol Museum


  1. In 1979 or so, I did a preservation study for the Windsor Hotel in Americus, GA, so I was very happy to see your presentation of this church by the same architect, Parkins.

  2. Terry I cannot get over the Apostles on the ceiling; how stunning!!

    Come and enter to win my Spring “Green “ Gift”.

    Art by Karena

  3. My sister got married here. It has always been one of my favorite churches in the States. Thanks for sharing!


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