Starting life as a large Georgian church, parishioners hired Strickland to update the exterior to the latest Greek Revival style.
This church was built at the same time as Saint Peter’s church, a few blocks away, when Society Hill became an important residential area for the growing city of Philadelphia. While the building is plainer than either Saint Peter’s or Christ Church in old city, Saint Paul’s is larger than either and at the time of its construction in 1761, was the largest church building in Pennsylvania.
Remodeling to make a building more in keeping with current fashion is not new and the parishioners of Saint Paul’s hired William Strickland in the 1830’s to remodel their church and make it look more like the fashionable Greek revival architecture then popular. Unable to do much with the arched windows, which are distinctly non-Greek, Strickland had to satisfy himself with wrapping the building with Doric order pilasters supporting a frieze above them.
To further the illusion, a coat of stucco was applied over the brick and scored to look like ashlar masonry. As simple as these steps are, the results point out how closely related many of the basic forms and proportions of Georgian architecture are to their Greek antecedents The building is now used for Episcopal community services.