Walking Tours

The World Religions in Richmond Project has organized two walking tours for those interesting in exploring Richmond’s religious heritage. Both are roughly geographically centered on the Sacred Heart Cathedral adjacent to the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. The first is a religious congregation walking tour. The second tour is a church organ tour.

Religious Congregation Walking Tour

The congregation walking tour features seven of the most interesting and historic religious congregations. These are listed immediately below along with information about their public accessibility. More detailed profiles can be obtained by following the individual congregational links.

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart serves as the Mother Church of the Diocese of Richmond,. Completed in 1906, it was designed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style by New York architect Joseph H. McGuire. At the time it was the only cathedral in the world that was funded from one source (Thomas Ryan Fortune and his wife, Ida). The cathedral is open to the general public from Monday through Friday from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 for self-guided tours and offers informational brochures. Formal tours may also be arranged through the main office for groups.

The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
823 Park Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 359-5651

Congregation Beth Ahabah
Congregation Beth Ahabha Museum

Founded in 1841, Beth Ahabah serves as Richmond’s oldest Reform Jewish congregation. Designed by the same architects as the nearby Saint James Episcopal Church, one of Beth Ahabah’s most distinguishing features are its numerous stained glass windows. The most prominent of these is t he Mitteldorfer Window, which was created by the Louis C. Tiffany Studios in 1923. Tours of the Beth Ahabah are offered by the Beth Ahabah Museum & Archives which is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:00am to 3:00pm.

Congregation Beth Ahabah
1111 West Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23220

Ekoji Buddhist Sangha

The Ekoji Buddhist Sangha serves as the place of worship for a number of different Buddhist traditions found in Richmond. Ekoji was formed in 1985 after Reverend Kenryu T. Tsuji founded the first Shin Buddhist temple in the Southeast in Northern Virginia. With support from Reverend Tsuji, Richmond Shin Buddhists were able to begin worshipping in a house located in the Museum District. Soon after, the sangha began opening its doors to other Buddhist groups in need of space. With the e xception of worship times, Ekoji is not generally open to visitors. Dharma Movie Night, held on Saturday evenings, is free and open to the public.

Ekoji Buddhist Sangha 3411 Grove Avenue
Richmond , Virginia 23221
(804) 355-6657

First Baptist Church

Founded in 1780, the First Baptist Church holds the distinction of being one of the first churches organized in the city of Richmond and the first Baptist church to be founded in a Virginia city. In 1841, a Greek Revival style church building designed by Thomas U. Walter (who also designed the U.S. Capitol dome) was completed in downtown Richmond. In 1928, the First Baptist Church constructed a larger building in the outskirts of the Fan District where it worships today. The Greek Doric portico which graces the church’s current location pays homage to its original place of worship. The interior sanctuary may be viewed by request to the church reception desk.

First Baptist Church
2709 Monument Avenue
Richmond, VA

Second Presbyterian

The Second Presbyterian Church was founded in 1845 with the church edifice built in 1848. It was designed by the renowned New York architect Minard Lafever in a Gothic Revival style and remains as Richmond’s most notable example of the style. The church also has a number of significant decorative and architectural aspects, including unique exterior ironwork. Two bronze Tiffany tablets and a large Tiffany stained glass window made in 1897 grace the interior. The church sanctuary may be viewed by request during regular office hours.

Second Presbyterian Church
5 North Fifth Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church

Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church One of Richmond’s most historic African American churches, Sixth Mount Zion was founded by the Reverend John Jasper in 1867. The Gothic revival -style church was built and designed in 1887 by George W. Boyd and was remodeled in 1925 by Charles T. Russell. Sixth Mount Zion also holds the distinction of being t he only black church designated a Richmond historic district. Private tours may be arranged with the church historian through the church secretary.

The Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church
14 West Duval Street
Richmond, VA 23220

St. James Episcopal Church

Richmond ’s third Episcopal church, the St. James congregation was formed in 1831 on Shockoe Hill. As the Fan area became more populous, the church moved westward and the cornerstone of the current building was laid in 1912. It was designed by one of Richmond’s most prestigious architectural firms, Noland and Baskerville. In 1994, much of the church was destroyed by fire, but the building underwent a successful renovation. The sanctuary may be accessed during week by request to the receptionist located in the parish hall.

1205 W. Franklin St.
Richmond , VA 23220
Telephone: 804-955-1779
Fax: 804-353-4837

Other Churches of Interest in the Walking Touf Area

There are a number of other churches in the vicinity of the seven featured in the walking tour. These are listed below. Profiles of these congregations can be obtained by following the links.

Bethlehem Lutheran Church

Centenary United Methodist Church

Ebenezer Baptist Church

First English Lutheran Church

Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church

Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Landmark Theater

Metropolitan Community Church

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

St. Peter’s Catholic Church

Church Organ Walking Tour

There are a number of organs of historic and aesthetic interest in Richmond. Those profiled here are available to the public as indicated below. For a listing of other important organs, see the following website: http://www.richmondago.org/orgtour.html

The Austin Organ at All Saints Epiiscopal Church

The Skinner Organ at St. John’s United Church of Christ

Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church




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