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Built to house what was at the time the largest Roman Catholic parish in the state, St Michael’s is a bold, proud architectural statement. Its overall form, with its square-plan, spire-less tower centered on the front, and its high nave, appropriately draws its inspiration from late medieval Irish country churches. But like so much turn-of-the-century revivalist architecture, it far outstrips its inspiration in size and scale. Architects Martin & Hall were an unusual choice for a Roman Catholic church, but here they did only the basement section, which served as the church until the upper section was completed. St Michael’s did turn to the usual Roman Catholic practitioners, Murphy, Hindle & Wright, for the church proper, above the basement level, and its decoration. The dramatic worship space is a carefully orchestrated ensemble highly focused on the sanctuary at the north end. For the windows, the parish commissioned a stained-glass set, oddly enough with no discernable iconography, from John Hardman Studios in Birmingham, England.

– 2003 Guide to Providence Architecture

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© 2023 Guide to Providence Architecture. All rights reserved. Design by J. Hogue at Highchair designhaus, with development & support by Kay Belardinelli.