The Old Church Bookby Robin Langley Sommer
Renewed interest in the architectural presence of the past-and perhaps a yearning for the values of earlier times-is reflected in this handsome volume on historic churches from colonial days through the nineteenth century. It includes vernacular architecture from every region of North America along with fine examples of the most influential European styles imported and adapted to the New World.
The simple clean-lined New England congregational church had its counterpart in the clapboard meetinghouses built in Atlantic Canada, not only by settlers from the British Isles, but by Loyalist New Englanders who emigrated during the American Revolution. Folk churches and functional meetinghouses were built by colonists from New France to present-day Georgia on ethnic European models, then modified with westward expansion and the availability of new construction materials and styles.
In Spanish Florida and the American Southwest, originally outposts of Spain's dominance of the Caribbean and Mexico, indigenous native styles like those of the Southeastern Seminoles and the Pueblo culture area merged with traditional building methods. The results ranged from palmetto-frond chapels in early St. Augustine to the baroque Spanish Colonial missions and massive adobe Pueblo-style churches of the Southwest.
Utopian communities like those of the Shakers, Mormons and Mennonites had a lasting influence on timber, frame and stone houses of worship that combined rugged simplicity and durability. Examples survive from Maine and Massachusetts to the nation's heartland.
As the continent grew in population and prosperity, architect-designed churches in major cities from Boston and Montreal to Chicago and San Francisco reflected prevailing styles. Georgian, Federal, Greek and Gothic Revivals all had their day, culminating in the late nineteenth century with the colorful eclecticism of the High Victorian era.
Each denomination combined its ecclesiastical tradition with the ever-changing needs of a restless population, sometimes sharing worship space, sometimes preserving its sense of the sacred in building designed as a space apart from everyday concerns. This colorful pageant unfolds through the expressive photography of Balthazar Korab, Charles J. Ziga and other gifted artists whose work makes The Old Church Book an invaluable pictorial record of American faith communities.
- Sterling Publishing
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