Gothic architecture originated in central Europe in the period from the 11th to the 16th century. The name Gothic identifies with the ethnic origin of craftsmen who developed stone masonry to the highest level of structural efficiency to be achieved in the world at that time. Slender pointed arches, relatively thin walls and refined details, characteristic of Gothic design, developed from a desire to reduce the quantities of stone and structural weight required to construct large masonry buildings. This resulted in large penetrations through stone walls which could be lined with ornate tracery holding glass, taking advantage of as much natural light as possible. Gothic design was frequently chosen for ecclesiastical structures to express the aspiring nature of religious beliefs. Local availability of stone made it the material of choice. Stone masons of the period reached the highest level of expertise yet achieved in their craft.
Gothic design became the dominant influence for large religious buildings in France and England through the 19th century and, because of the Anglican connection, Gothic design was selected for Episcopal churches throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Grace Cathedral may be described as eclectic Gothic. It takes its character from features chosen from a range of Gothic construction. Medieval or Early English is the significant influence with details from the Decorated and Perpendicular periods. Many of the great cathedrals of Europe have very high, elaborately vaulted stone ceilings. Grace Cathedral departs from this with the use of timber trusses bracketed on hammer beams, a construction most frequently identified with Gothic community buildings and parish churches in Europe. The extensive use of wood contributes greatly to the more intimate feeling of this building when it is compared with all stone structures. The notable character of the Cathedral is dignified simplicity. Extensive use of Kansas Limestone and carved wood accented with bright brass give the worship space a sensation of being warm and alive with strength and sensitivity.
Foundations for the Cathedral were laid starting in 1909 and work continued until 1912 when the exterior was completed. Work on the interior was restarted in 1916 and completed in 1917. On November 25, 1975 the roof and interior of the Cathedral were totally destroyed by fire. Following a five month recovery period work was started on restoration of the structure. Thirty months later in October of 1978 services were being conducted in the building. Installation of stained glass windows and woodwork has been a continuing process since 1978.