Interior of the basilica

In 1905 Asheville’s Catholic community built the Basilica of St. Lawrence, a church specially designated by the pope for its dramatic architecture. Interior of the basilica. Photo courtesy of Steven Hyatt,


Basilicas are Roman Catholic churches specially designated by the Pope because of their antiquity, historical importance, or significance as a place of worship. In 1905, Asheville’s Catholic Community engaged Rafael Guastavino, a Spanish architect and builder who had come to work on the Biltmore house to create a special place of worship. Guastavino designed the basilica in the Spanish Renaissance style.  His revival of an ancient Spanish tradition of using thin tiles to create curved horizontal surfaces enabled him to cap the building with one of the largest freestanding elliptical domes in America. This architectural treasure, with its exquisite tile work, wood carvings, and stained glass windows, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


St. Lawrence Basilica DHM from Digital Heritage {dot} Org on Vimeo.

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