The Church of the Nativity congregation was organized December 17, 1842 - the name chosen because of the approaching Christmas season. The Convention of the Diocese of Alabama, Protestant Episcopal Church, approved the congregation on February 16, 1843. The original brick church, erected in 1847, stood east of the present structure.
The present church building, an outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture, was designed by Frank Wills and Henry Dudley of New York. Erected at a cost of $37,500, it was dedicated Easter Eve, April 13, 1859, and consecrated January 29, 1860.
National Historic Landmark - 1990.
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Bibb Chapel was consecrated in 1886 as a memorial to Wilson Carey Bibb. Ridley Hall, for parish functions, was completed in 1953 as a memorial to Dr. James L. Ridley. Joffrion Hall, dedicated in 1983 as an educational building, was named for the Rev. A. Emile Joffrion, ninth rector.
For 150 years, Nativity was served by only ten rectors, two of whom became bishops. The Rev. Henry C. Lay, second rector, was consecrated Missionary Bishop of the Southwest (1859). The Rev. Randolph R. Claiborne, Jr. seventh rector, was consecrated Suffragan Bishop, Diocese of Alabama (1949) and became Bishop of Atlanta (1953).