Formerly known as the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Saviour, it was built in 1855, renovated in 1898, and rebuilt after an April 16, 1902 fire. In 1992 it became the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
A highly-controversial renovation of the interior was undertaken, 2000-2002, under then-cathedral dean Richard Giles, author of Re-Pitching the Tent: Re-Ordering the Church Building for Worship and Mission. The pews, altar, and other church furniture were removed and sold. Chairs and modern lighting fixtures replaced the traditional fixtures. The stone walls were stuccoed over and whitewashed. The baptismal font was joined by an immersion pool for adults. These actions divided the congregation and were severely criticized in the press.
So much for the best laid plans ... of men: This Church, although so costly, is entirely free from debt, and is not owned by the Corporation, so that it can never be sold or made subject to mortgage or other lien by the Vestry, but is held in trust forever by The Trustees of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, who have no power to lien or sell it.