Spanish Colonial Mission Church Revival Architecture: St. Philip's in the Hills


The Nave, St. Philip's In The Hills

Sanctuary view of altar
image: GM

view to the rear of the sanctuary from the altar area
image: GM

View a panorama of the main nave. [746K] You will be able to view everything from the front altar to the rear where the original chapel once stood. This QTVR shows the chancel, east and west transepts, and the nave. The original small building was intended to be a chapel. A separate, large church was to be erected later. Originally, the chapel was about one third of the nave—and at the back of the present nave. The nave is in the shape of a cross with side transepts—a plan that is reflected in most ancient basilicas and in Spanish Colonial Mission Revival architecture.

The Nave

Unlike the early mission churches, St. Philip’s nave is full of light and openness, shown in the large curved window (10 feet high x 12 feet wide) behind the altar that opens to the Catalina Mountains where the shifting patterns and colors constantly change. Side aisles of the nave allow for light with their delicate Moorish arches. Nave columns are cast stone copies of columns in the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple’s columns were a stylized version of the cedars of Lebanon that are often mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. A Roman general, Titus (Titus Flavius Sabinus Vespasianus, AD 39 - AD 81; Roman emperor AD 79 - AD 81), was ordered to destroy the Temple in 70 AD. He liked its columns so he brought some of them to Rome. Later, when the Emperor Constantine (280 -337 A.D.) declared himself a Christian in 325 AD, he specified that columns like these be used to build St. Peter’s Cathedral. They are officially known as “Solomonic columns” with Romanesque capitals at the top. Pews and the overhead beams [36K GF] and supporting corbels are made of hand-hewn cedar from the southwest coast of Mexico. A man named Melgar came to Tucson from Puebla, Mexico, to carve the beams, pews, altar, and other wood pieces in the nave. The Church could not afford silver chandeliers in 1936, so they were made of tin [35K GF] by the Carrasco Brothers Company in Puebla, Mexico, following Joesler’s designs. George and May Ferguson bought the original pipe organ that was installed in the loft. They refused to be reimbursed. Years later, Leo Keith, by then a partner with Murpheys in their real estate business, and Mary Keith, his wife, reimbursed the Fergusons. The large organ that you now see on the floor level was completed and installed in 1986. The Clerestory, or “clear-story,” means the story of a church that rises above adjacent rooftops or walls and has windows admitting daylight. Here, the clerestory rises above the nave. The two second story windows show the apostles Andrew and Philip. Stained glass pictures of Matthew, Thomas, John, and Peter are located along the rear walls of the nave. [source: tour notes]

Download the free QuickTime player | Tips on viewing the panoramas

previous previous