The prominence of Harrisburg's State Street, between the Capitol and the Susquehanna River, is enhanced by the presence of two Roman Catholic edifices. While the Cathedral of St. Patrick, closer to the Capitol, helps to capture the grandeur of the Capitol's domed neoclassicism, the former Parish Church of St. Lawrence, closer to the river, evokes serenity through its pure and elegantly crafted architecture of the European Gothic, the execution of which can be considered one of the finest in Central Pennsylvania. St. Lawrence Parish was founded in Harrisburg in 1859 by the area's German-speaking Catholics. The first church was located at 107 N. Front Street from 1860 to 1873. The growing parish then purchased land on Walnut Street facing Fifth Street, where the Forum Building now stands, and erected a large gothic-styled church building, completed in 1878, entirely under the supervision and largely by the manual labor of its pastor, Father Clement Koppernagle. This work however was relatively short-lived for in 1911, the Capitol Park Extension Bill would result in the clearance of the blocks of which St. Lawrence was a part for the development of the Capitol Complex. Having finalized an acceptable cash settlement from the Commonwealth for the property, the present location of the church was secured. Philadelphia Architect Paul Monaghan was selected architect for the new structure, completed in April 1918. St. Lawrence, now the Chapel of St. Patrick Cathedral, is truly a successful execution of the Gothic. The sanctuary is rich in the use of marble, stained glass and carved wood with a high vaulted ceiling, rare polychrome decorative painting and a lavishly leaded rose window that dominates the building's facade.
1918 photo by church architect of view toward front of sanctuary.
1918 photo by church architect of view toward rear of sanctuary.