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FEA church steeples st patrick The steeple atop the Historic Church of St. Patrick, 130 Avondale Ave., has been a fixture since 2007, some 27 years after the previous one was destroyed by fire.
The steeple atop the Historic Church of St. Patrick, 130 Avondale Ave., has been a fixture since 2007, some 27 years after the previous one was destroyed by fire.
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Published: Sunday, 8/17/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

TOLEDO MAGAZINE

Steeples, spires have topped churches for centuries

BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

You recall the children’s rhyme that you say and make hand gestures about church steeples? “Here’s the church (interlock your fingers, pointing downward).

“And here’s the steeple (put up both pointers). 

“Open the door (uncross your thumbs), 

“And see all the people!” (turn your hands up and wiggle your fingers)

That little ditty was the inspiration recently to glance upward at church steeples and spires. In the greater Toledo area, there are a good number of them on buildings of many denominations — including Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Methodist, and Unitarian.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Steeples and spires of Toledo-area churches

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 728 S. St. Clair St., left, and St. John's Lutheran Church, 708 S. Erie St., right. Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 728 S. St. Clair St., left, and St. John's Lutheran Church, 708 S. Erie St., right.
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The centuries-old architectural feature was brought to these shores by the early settlers. While they wanted their buildings to be as grand as those in their European homelands, they also wanted them to project a good measure of consecration. That helps explain why some steeples and spires are finished off with crosses.

Steeples and spires top decades-old and some of the not-so-old churches in this region’s urban, suburban, and rural communities. You can see them up close, as you might if you’re by a church that’s near a neighborhood, such as Union Grove Baptist Church. And you can catch a glimpse of them from a distance while motoring about. The Historic Church of St. Patrick can be seen from the Anthony Wayne Trail, and St. John’s Lutheran Church and Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church near downtown, not far from each other, can be seen from I-75.

Church steeples are typically ornamental towers that may include a belfry which houses the church bells (when there are bells). And though many people — and some dictionaries, too — refer to the structures that pierce the sky as steeples and spires interchangeably, spires are actually found on top of steeples. Spires taper to a point, enhance a church’s design, and direct a viewer’s eye heavenward.

After all, where there are steeples and spires, the goal is mostly to keep observers in a heavenly mind-set.

Contact Rose Russell at: 419-724-6178 or rrussell@theblade.com.


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