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Hills & Heights

Must-See RVA! — Church of the Sacred Heart

A look into the history of Richmond places that are still part of our landscape.

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March 2020
  • AKA, Sacred Heart Catholic Church
  • 1401 Perry Street
  • Built, 1901
  • Architect, Joseph Hubert McGuire
  • VDHR 127-0859-0244

That other Sacred Heart, in ol’ Manchester.

[FAM] — Bishop James Gibbons

[FAM] — Bishop James Gibbons

In 1876 Bishop James Gibbons purchased a tract at Fourteenth and Perry Streets. There were forty to fifty Catholic families in Manchester and norther Chesterfield County at this time. Most worshipped in Richmond at St. Peter’s Cathedral on Grace Street or at St. Mary’s Church on Marshall Street. In 1897 a new school was built next to the Fourteenth and Perry Street property.

March 2020 — Ida Mary Barry Ryan, AKA Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan

March 2020 — Ida Mary Barry Ryan, AKA Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan

About this time the wealthy Mrs. Thomas Fortune Ryan of New York offered to build a church at Fourteenth and Perry Streets and a school across the street. She requested that the school be named Sacred Heart. The church was so named, and also the school. [OME]

(Find A Grave) — Thomas Fortune Ryan

(Find A Grave) — Thomas Fortune Ryan

What the lady wants, the lady gets. But let’s back the bus up.

The church and school that shaped leaders of the Catholic community in southside Virginia are significant because of their association with Thomas Fortune Ryan and his wife Ida Mary Barry Ryan. Ryan, a native Virginian, noted financier and patron of the arts, donated more than twenty million dollars to Roman Catholic causes throughout his life.

That includes funding the construction of a new Catholic cathedral across from Monroe Park.

That project would break ground in 1903, two years after Church of the Sacred Heart, and when finished in 1906, the new cathedral would supplant St. Peter’s as the seat of the diocese.

It would also be called Sacred Heart and would be designed by the same architect, but the version on Perry Street came first.

March 2020 — showing front elevation

March 2020 — showing front elevation

The two churches could not be more different stylistically. One is an Italian Renaissance Revival masterpiece; the other, an ode to red brick.

The front elevation (southeast) is divided into three primary sections with narrow lancet-style windows flanking the central section, and a corner tower to the southeast. There are three rectangular windows above the belt course in the central section separated from the elaborate Roman arch window by decorative circle and square brickwork.

March 2020 — showing arched fenestration

March 2020 — showing arched fenestration

Roman arched fenestration is typical throughout the Church of the Sacred Heart with the exception of the three rectangular windows mentioned above. A corbel table at the roofline frames the elaborate round-arched stained-glass window on the front facade. The corner tower has a granite foundation and steps leading to arched doorcases with double-leaf doors capped by fanlights and frontons, or pediments supported by large paired brackets.

March 2020 — showing recessed brick panel

March 2020 — showing recessed brick panel

Recessed brick panels with corbel tables, an open attic with columns and balustrade, and a pyramidal roof with flared eaves complete the tower. Clear delineation of the bays by the use of pilasters and brick corbelling, use of circle and square motifs and overall visual hints of the underlying skeletal structure, all suggest an Ecole des BeauxArts influence in the design.

March 2020 — showing eight-panel doors, fanlight and fronton

March 2020 — showing eight-panel doors, fanlight and fronton

The Church of the Sacred Heart is entered through six-panel doors, surmounted by fanlights and frontons, on the southeast and northeast facades of the corner tower. Square coffers in the ceiling of the tower and west porch entries, simple geometric patterns in the stained-glass windows, plain unadorned walls as well as the circle and square motif in the gallery balustrade reflect the Renaissance Revival style on the church interior.

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing Roman arch and altars

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing Roman arch and altars

A Roman arch, once flanked by altars on both sides, separates the apse from the nave. The Roman arch, echoed down the nave by the hammer-beam ceiling, is used to further delineate each bay.

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing rose window

(Sacred Heart Catholic Church) — showing rose window

The arched window in the southeast facade is mirrored in the apse end by a stained-glass rose window above the altar. The elevated framed arched windows that line the nave, and the Doric-style columns with brackets in the manner of the Badia di Fiesole all enhance the Renaissance character of this building.

March 2020

March 2020

The church is a testament to the power of a single patron. The church and school that shaped leaders of the Catholic community in southside Virginia are significant because of their association with Thomas Fortune Ryan and his wife Ida Mary Barry Ryan. (VDHR)

March 2020 — showing twenty-panel door

March 2020 — showing twenty-panel door

It’s also a thing of beauty, easy for the casual commuter to miss as they cruise down Perry Street. If this is you, dear reader, you owe it to yourself to take a moment and check it out yourself.

As for the disconnect between the Department of Historic Resources’s count of the door panels and what actually hangs on hinges today, the only conclusion to draw is that they must have been replaced sometime after the church joined the historic registry in 2002.

(Church of the Sacred Heart is part of the Atlas RVA! Project)


Print Sources

  • [FAM] Famous Living Americans. Edited, Mary Griffin Web & Edna Lenore Webb. 1915.
  • [OME] Old Manchester & its Environs, 1769 – 1910. Benjamin B. Weisinger III. 1993.

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Richmond Animal Care and Control Looking for Information on Dog Found in Dumpster

The dog was found in a dumpster at the Residences at Westover Hills (5852 Westower Drive). If you have an information please call 647-5573 or email [email protected]

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From RACC Facebook:

We just don’t know what to say about this one. Swear words want to come out first…followed by tears…then back to bigger swear words. 😡😭😡 This sweet dog was found in this dumpster at the Residences at Westover Hills. No joke. Citizens saw him and called our team. Officer Jones removed him from the dumpster and took him straight to Virginia Veterinary Centers.

We named him Blue Skies. 🌼 He’s 10 months old and was in terrible shape; starved, covered in feces, with open wounds on his body-our RACC Medical Pics closed group shows more (if you can handle graphic). We need your help finding the person responsible for his suffering. Please call 647-5573 or email [email protected] with information. Our hearts are breaking over the sweet spirit of this dog that deserves a chance at a better life. 💔 Please share-plus he will need a home-email if you can help with that too. 💕 #weareyourcityshelter #throwninthetrash #HelpUsHelpHim #ijustcantanymore

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Sacred Heart Center Needs Help Filling Up their Food Bank

The Food Bank, in partnership with Bainbridge Community Ministries and Sacred Heart Parish has been able to provide food to 750 community members affected by this crisis.

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Sacred Heart Center at  1400 Perry Street runs a food bank and donations are not keeping up with current demand. You can donate items directly (contactless) on Tuesdays and Thursdays or make a donation online.
A message from Sacred Heart Center.

Dear Sacred Heart Center Friends and Family,

While Sacred Heart Center continues to implement our educational programs remotely for our community, we are currently accepting food donations to support our families during this critical time.

Due to the great need that our families experience, demonstrated in the number of people served each time we open the food bank (more than 150 people per day,) through our Food Bank, in partnership with Bainbridge Community Ministries and Sacred Heart Parish, we have been able to provide food to 750 community members affected by this crisis.

We will be accepting food donations on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm

Donations can be dropped off at the side of our main building, located at 1400 Perry Street. Please drive into Sacred Heart’s parking lot and pull up to the designated parking spot located next to the first door on the left.

Please stay in your vehicle and someone will come to accept your donations.

If you would like to help replenish our food pantry, but are unable to come to the SHC, please consider donating online so that we can continue to support our community at this time.

We are accepting all food items while also strongly asking for foods that our community consumes:

  • Corn flour
  • Tortillas
  • Dried or canned beans
  • Rice
  • Baby formula
  • Snacks for small children
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Sugar
  • Tuna
  • Canned Fruit
  • Powdered Milk
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Peanut butter
  • Tea & Coffee
  • Cooking oils

    Other items we are accepting:

  • Personal Care Products (Deodorants, lotions, dental care, hair care, shaving needs, laundry detergent)
  • Diapers (any size)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Latex gloves
  • Paper & Plastic bags to distribute food
  • Cardboard Boxes to distribute food
  • Lysol/Clorox wipes
  • Large size diapers (size 4-6)

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about volunteering for our Curbside Food Bank,  please do not hesitate to ask:

 [email protected].

If you are in a position to give back to the community, please join us!

To stay up to date on available community resources, please visit our website at: www.shcrichmond.org/en/links We will continue to add more information as it becomes available.

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Richmond BizSense Reporting: T-Mobile is Hanging Up on Stony Point Fashion Park

Another national chain has left the Southside mall.

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From Richmond BizSense.com

The wireless carrier permanently shuttered its store at the Southside mall in late December. A company spokeswoman didn’t specify what motivated the decision.

“We have a number of stores in this area within just a few miles, so as part of our normal course of business we closed this store on Dec. 27, 2020,” the T-Mobile spokeswoman said in an email last week.

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