Gothic revival in the South

Alabama's Church of the Nativity is blessed with new copper roof systems

The Church of the Nativity, Episcopal, has an extensive history in Huntsville, Ala. When its congregation organized in December 1842, the church's name was chosen because of the approaching Christmas season. After being admitted to The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, the parish was officially recognized in May 1843.

In 1845, a plot of land was purchased and construction of a church building began. In 1847, the first mass was held in the original brick building. A second building was later constructed alongside the first building to accommodate 500 people and currently is the church's main sanctuary.

Designed by Ecclesiastical architect Frank Wills, the building's steeple is 154 feet tall and is an example of Gothic Revival architecture in the South. On Easter eve in 1859, the church held its first mass in this sanctuary. Although Huntsville was occupied during the Civil War, the church was spared because the "Reverance My Sanctuary" sign over the door was honored by federal occupation forces. The original and current church buildings stood side by side until 1878 when the original building was donated and relocated to another church.

In 1884, Bibb Memorial Chapel was erected. In 1953, Ridley Hall, which includes a basement, classrooms and a kitchen, was constructed. In 1979, an annex with two floors was purchased and connected to the complex. The most recent addition is Joffrion Hall, which was built in 1982 and includes four floors. In 1992, the current church building with the second structure added was accepted as a National Historic Landmark.