Christ Church – St. Michael’s Parish was founded in 1672 on the banks of what was then known as “Shipping Creek,” as one of the Chesapeake Bay area’s original “water churches” for the Church of England. The English crown levied taxes on the colony payable on the feast day of St. Michael, September 29, and the river and eventually the settlement which grew up around its harbor—a thriving center for shipbuilding and shipping of local commodities, notably furs, timber and tobacco—became known as St. Michaels.
As settlement in the area spread out, many parishioners lived some miles from St. Michaels so that Chapels of Ease were established during the 18th and 19th centuries. Four chapels, of which we have records, were built and administered by Christ Church, St. Michaels: the Chapel at Dundee in a remote corner of the parish near Eastern Bay, early 1700s to late 1700s; St. John’s Chapel, just across the Miles River bridge, then a ferry, 1835-1892; St. Paul’s Chapel, Royal Oak, 1859-1910; and Holy Innocents, Claiborne, 1886-1920.
Until the War of 1812, Christ Church maintained a simple frame structure, which was replaced by a red brick building in 1814. As the parish continued to grow in parishioners and affluence, this church building was replaced by the present stone and brick building completed in 1878. Well-known New York architect, Henry Martyn Congdon (1834-1922) designed the new church. Congdon also designed St. James Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, St. Thomas Church in Hartford, Connecticut, St. Michael’s High Street in Brooklyn and the Long Walk at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The style of architecture chosen for Christ Church was “high Victorian Gothic.”
Historic treasures abound inside Christ Church. Below the pulpit is the baptismal font, a gift from Queen Anne shortly after she ascended the throne in 1702. Another larger, memorial font is located near the entrance to the nave.
Communion silver, also a gift of Queen Anne, may be seen in the security case near the “narthex”, or side entrance.
Also in the case are four pieces from St. John’s Chapel, made in the early 19th century by noted Baltimore silversmith, A.E. Warner.
See an album of additional photos by clicking on Treasures of Christ Church.
The Docent’s Guild conducts tours of Christ Church from May through December. Special tours may be arranged by contacting the parish office at 410-745-9076, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or just ask one of the Docent’s.