St. Mary’s Catholic Church is the oldest Catholic Church in Virginia, and in 2018 became the region’s second Basilica as designated by the Vatican. Near the main church building on South Royal Street is the Rectory, which houses the Pastor and priests of the parish, and the Lyceum building for meetings and events. Several parish offices have been moved into the Rectory over the years, and the Church wanted to return the building to its proper role as a priestly residence, without the distraction of business activity. Accordingly, the Church asked us to move their offices across the street to the Lyceum—and to create a dedicated side entrance for the office staff and daily visitors to the new parish offices.
We designed a decorative gate, sympathetic to the historical setting of the 1888 Lyceum building on Duke Street in the Old and Historic District of Alexandria, with custom stone and metalwork and new gas lanterns, to highlight the office entrance and give it its own identity separate from the main entrance to the lyceum. The new gate and accompanying paving improvements lead to a new, accessible and energy-efficient wing for the parish staff to do their important work for the congregation and community, and for members of the Church to visit.
Our next task was to clean the historic Gothic limestone facade of the main church building. As that project proceeds, other exterior upgrades and renovations are being planned this year.
Additionally, we’re doing the master planning for the church’s school, which includes exterior and interior additions and renovations—initial interior work was completed in the summer of 2017.
When St. Mary’s Catholic Church was designated as the Basilica of St. Mary in January, 2018, senior associate Michael Patrick designed a crest bearing the new name; he also designed the coat of arms for St. Mary’s School.