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Cathedral of St. John (Providence, Rhode Island) facts for kids

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Cathedral of Saint John
Cathedral of St. John, Providence iv.jpg
Affiliation Episcopal Church in the United States of America
District Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island
Status Closed
Location Providence, Rhode Island, USA
State Rhode Island
Architect(s) John Holden Greene
Architectural type Cathedral
Architectural style Federal
Gothic Revival
Founder Gabriel Bernon
Date established 1722
Completed 1810
Materials Stone

The Cathedral of St. John, located at 271 North Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island, was formerly the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island of The Episcopal Church. The church closed in 2012 due to declining membership and the need for extensive renovations. Currently, the church is being repaired and renovated to become a "exhibition and reconciliation center" focusing on the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was partially reopened in 2018.


Early history

The parish was originally organized in 1722 as King's Church, in honor of George I of Great Britain. The church's first building was built the same year on land donated by ship builder Nathaniel Brown. Colonel Joseph Whipple and French Huguenot Gabriel Bernon were major figures in the establishment of the church and contributed financially the cost of its construction.

The first church building was constructed of wood; this building is described as standing 62 feet long, 41 feet wide, and 26 feet high. Around 1771, a pointed steeple was built at the front of the church.

In December of 1772, an organ was installed in the church.

The church was renamed St John's Church in 1794.

The church's original building served Providence until 1810 when work began on what would become the Cathedral of St. John. The Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island was formed in 1790, but it was not until 1929 that St John's Church was designated the Episcopal seat and was renamed the Cathedral of St. John.

Current building

The cornerstone for St. John's Church was laid in 1810 and the church was dedicated in 1811. The building was designed by Federal-era architect John Holden Greene, who designed many buildings in Providence. A Cathedral corporation was formed in 1909 and in 1929, the church was designated the Episcopal seat. The building was renovated in 1855, 1866, 1906, and 1967, and retains its architectural integrity but is deteriorating. It was listed on the Providence Preservation Society 10 Most Endangered Properties List in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Citing dwindling membership and costs associated with upkeep, the diocese closed the church in 2012.


In November 2014, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island announced it was interested in using part of the cathedral for a museum that would examine the state's role in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, both those who profited from it and those who opposed it. The "museum and reconciliation center" is expected be the first museum in the United States to focus on the history of slavery in New England. It will also document the role of the Episcopal Church in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It is scheduled to open in 2018.


  • From corner lot to city block: The story of the Cathedral of Saint John, Providence (Unknown Binding - 1972); John Seville Higgins
  • A narrative of King's Church: St. John's Church, The Cathedral of St. John, 1722-1972 (Unknown Binding - 1972); John Seville Higgins

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