Hopefully we all have our spots where we can find a sense of peace and beauty, especially amid the clamor and bustle of everyday city life. For me, as a Center City Philadelphia resident, it’s walking over to St. Mark’s Episcopalian Church on Locust Street, two blocks from Rittenhouse Square, to lean against the wrought iron fences and admire the somewhat wild English garden surrounding the church buildings or to enter the yard to sit on one of the welcoming benches.
The church and rectory were built in 1848 in the Gothic Revival Style and the sprawling aspect of the buildings surrounded by greenery, hydrangea, roses of many colors, begonias, dogwood trees, and irises offer a welcome respite. In winter, the holly trees sporting brilliant red berries are especially pretty when it snows.
“An Episcopal Church in the Anglo-Catholic tradition and committed to serving God’s people on the margins of society,” St. Marks welcomes all, and rector Sean Mullen is warm, witty and kind, and typically accompanied by his yellow lab, Felix. The inside of the church is also quite beautiful and though I’m not religious I have enjoyed many free classical music concerts there on Sunday afternoons in the Spring when Curtis Institute students hold recitals.
On the website you will find a fascinating history and tour of the building and grounds. Check also for hours for mass, visiting the church, etc. Of course, you can see the gardens at any time. I prefer dusk.