Friday, March 13, 2009

Some Images of Early 20th Century American Liturgical Architecture

Episcopalian Pro-Cathedral, Havana, Cuba; Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson

The turn of the last century was a true golden age for liturgical design in the United States. I have discussed the work of Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Goodhue, and Cram's exertions in promoting a return to traditional forms of worship among Anglicans and nonliturgical Protestants, but there were dozens of lesser masters, such as the Irish Catholic immigrant Charles Maginnis, a former Cram employee and sometime president of the American Institute of Architects, whose breadth of work rivals that of his master, and many more local figures whose names are even less well-known today--John T. Comes, Frank R. Watson, Charles Klauder... It is also striking to note the work was not uniformly Gothic--as evident by the exuberant Mexican Baroque altarpiece proposed for a Cuban project above, as well as numerous Romanesque, classical and even faintly Plateresque examples. Neither were the styles chosen evenly 'historicist' or archaeologic in their composition, often incorporating in their massing a hint of the skyscraper.

The consistent quality of such work is, nontheless amazing, as are the many unlikely or unheard-of places where these churches and chapels still stand. Here follows a selection of illustrations from a number of works, but principally the two publications American Churches, from 1915, and American Church-Building of To-Day, from 1929, both wonderful chronicles of this moment in architectural time.

St. Mary's, Redford, Detroit, Michigan, Cram and Ferguson

Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts; Maginnis and Walsh

A cathedra by Bertram Goodhue for an unexecuted design for an Episcopalian cathedral in Los Angeles

Congregationalist Church, Winnetka, Illinois; Charles Z. Klauder

South Dutch Reformed Church, New York City; Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson

A baptistery; Cram and Ferguson

Proposal for Liberty Street Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh; Cram and Ferguson, not as built

Proposal for Christ Church Methodist, New York City; Cram and Ferguson, not as built

Carmelite Convent, Santa Clara, California; Maginnis and Walsh

Holy Cross College, Worcester, Massachusetts; Maginnis and Walsh