Interior of the basilica

In 1905 Asheville’s Catholic community built the Basilica of St. Lawrence, a church specially designated by the pope for its dramatic architecture. Interior of the basilica. Photo courtesy of Steven Hyatt,


Basilicas are Roman Catholic churches specially designated by the Pope because of their antiquity, historical importance, or significance as a place of worship. In 1905, Asheville’s Catholic Community engaged Rafael Guastavino, a Spanish architect and builder who had come to work on the Biltmore house to create a special place of worship. Guastavino designed the basilica in the Spanish Renaissance style.  His revival of an ancient Spanish tradition of using thin tiles to create curved horizontal surfaces enabled him to cap the building with one of the largest freestanding elliptical domes in America. This architectural treasure, with its exquisite tile work, wood carvings, and stained glass windows, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


St. Lawrence Basilica DHM from Digital Heritage {dot} Org on Vimeo.

Below is the Digital Heritage Moment as broadcast on the radio:


More Images

Related Posts

  • All Souls Episcopal ChurchAll Souls Episcopal Church George Vanderbilt established All Souls Episcopal Church in 1896 to serve the workers on his Biltmore Estate near Asheville. The church was the centerpiece of the village he constructed […]
  • Mud Creek Missionary Baptist ChurchMud Creek Missionary Baptist Church In May 1867, having been led by the spirit of God, newly freed slaves from Charleston joined with their ministers to establish the Mud Creek Missionary Baptist Church in East Flat Rock, […]
  • Dinner on the GroundDinner on the Ground
  • Decoration DayDecoration Day Decoration Days are an important part of Appalachian ritual life. Usually held in the summer, these days are set aside by families and church congregations to clean and decorate their […]
  • Young Adult Choir, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church, 2001Young Adult Choir, Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church, 2001 Mountain Heritage Award Comments SEPT. 29, 2001 Winner: Young Adult Choir of Tried Stone Missionary Baptist Church. Accepting Award: choir director Cornell Proctor The Young […]