Uncovered cathedral to be dedicated

January 04, 1991|By Patrick Ercolano | Patrick Ercolano,Evening Sun Staff

Not so long ago, you couldn't see the cathedral for the trees.

The Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, at the northwest corner of St. Paul Street and University Parkway, has been regarded as one of the more impressive religious structures in the Baltimore area since its construction 60 years ago.

However, until some recent remodeling and landscaping, the church was concealed by a brick wall and a stretch of trees along St. Paul Street.

"It looked like a fortress," admits the Rev. Van H. Gardner, the dean of the 500-seat cathedral. "It was very closed-off. You had to look for it if you were passing by."

Now, with the trees cleared and the brick wall removed, the facade of the structure is strikingly visible to foot and car traffic at the busy intersection. In place of the wall are steps that lead invitingly down to street level.

"We wanted to make the place look more open," says Gardner. "I think we've done it."

The remodeled cathedral and the adjacent Diocesan Center, which houses the diocese's administrative offices and also has been recently revamped, will be dedicated in a service at the cathedral tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Bishop A. Theodore Eastman, the head of the Maryland Diocese, will be the celebrant. An open-house reception will follow the service.

The diocese includes all of the state except for the Eastern Shore and suburbs of Washington.

According to Gardner, the cost of the work on the cathedral and the diocesan center is about $4 million. In addition to the changes around the cathedral's exterior, parts of the interior walls were replastered and the stained-glass windows were polished recently.

A new wing with conference rooms and offices for Eastman, Suffragan Bishop Charles Longest and their staffs, as well as a new office for the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council, has been added to the existing Diocesan Center, which was built in the early 1960s. Ground was broken for the new wing almost two years ago.

Funding for the work came from the diocese's Cross+Roads campaign, a five-year fund-raising effort begun in 1988. The goal is to raise $9 million, says Cross+Roads coordinator Ashby DeLashmutt, who adds that the campaign should be completed by April.

Money also will be allocated through 1992 to help pay for the education of Episcopal seminarians, social-outreach programs and the development of congregations and lay ministries, DeLashmutt says.

The new Diocesan Center was fully occupied three months ago, at last placing the administrative side of the diocese alongside "the bishop's seat," as the cathedral is known, Gardner points out. Previously, the diocese's administrative offices were in an old rowhouse on West Monument Street, just off Mount Vernon Place.

"There's also the bishop's official residence, Clover Hill, which stands a bit north of the Diocesan Center," he says. "We have everything and everybody here, finally."

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