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Basilica of St. Lawrence - National Fund For Sacred Places
2020 Cohort

Basilica of St. Lawrence

(Roman Catholic)

Asheville, North Carolina

The Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, North Carolina, is the final work, resting place, and widely recognized masterpiece of master builder Rafael Guastavino.

 

Basilica of St. Lawrence by John Cosmas

Basilica of St. Lawrence by John Cosmas

2020 Cohort

Basilica of St. Lawrence

(Roman Catholic)

Asheville, North Carolina

The Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, North Carolina, is the final work, resting place, and widely recognized masterpiece of master builder Rafael Guastavino.

Born in Spain, Guastavino brought a Spanish timbrel vaulting style to the United States after immigrating to the country in 1881. This distinct masonry construction method layered patented, terra cotta tiles into free-span vaults. Guastavino, a devout Catholic, donated his services and materials to construct this basilica, which was designed as a cathedral for an unrealized diocese in Asheville and modeled after the 17th-century Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados in Spain. The basilica opened in 1909, a year after Guastavino’s death. His son, Rafael Guastavino Exposito, completed its construction.

The Basilica of St. Lawrence serves as an active urban parish as well as one of Asheville’s most popular tourist destinations. The congregation is committed to serving weekly meals to low-income downtown residents and providing myriad social services to local immigrant and Latinx communities. The parish collaborates with other local organizations to address five core issues: crisis assistance; housing insecurity; food insecurity; economic, education, and opportunity disparity; and health insecurity. According to the congregation, the basilica operates as “a place of refuge, restoration, reflection, and sanctuary” open to the entire community.

Through a $250,000 National Fund grant and $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation, the Basilica of St. Lawrence will undergo improvements to all roof drainage systems, including urgent repairs to the roof, parapet walls, and flashing to address damage caused by undersized scuppers and downspouts. The work will address two major leaks and prevent water penetration from further impacting the Guastavino vaults.

8 Majestic Guastavino Tile Vaults From Around the Country

The soaring tile vaults of Rafael Guastavino and his son, Rafael Jr., grace some of America’s most iconic buildings. Yet for most of the past century, the architectural contributions of these two immigrants have gone unrecognized.

Basilica of St. Lawrence by John Cosmas

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez