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John Parks Almand (1885-1969)

Methodist Episcopal Church, Fordyce, AR/ John Parks Almand, architect (1925)

Methodist Episcopal Church, Portland, AR/ John Parks Almand, architect

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas has much to say about architect John Parks Almand, including his education at Columbia University. Richard Kenyon discovered his Methodist church at Portland and that one led to the church at Fordyce—two of more than fifty Arkansas churches he designed. Each of these is unusual, possibly even innovative, but neither seems to be an obvious example of the A-A idea. So I include them here as examples of independent thinking.

Congregational Church, Steger, IL

I cannot quite recall how I found this church. Might have been a postcard, but if it was I can no longer locate the card. At any rate our roving reporter Richard Kenyon drove past it a few years ago and took some photos. The building remained a mystery for a few years.

This was built as a Congregational church (UCC) but is now an evangelical-pentecostal congregation that hasn’t responded to questions about their building. Another source confirms that the architect was none other than Emery Stanford Hall, Chicago architect and first secretary of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. Anyone in the licensing process will know NCARB. Views from other directions and from the air don’t help understanding its shape: From Steger Boulevard, this is clearly an Akron Sunday school, but there is no auditorium. I had thought this could have been a staged project, with the S.S. built first, to be followed by the auditorium. But the detailing on the opposite side (from this view) has a permanent look about it. So I’m not sure. At any rate it is interesting.

The church website does include a couple interior views of interest.

Hall’s other projects—those that I know—are of a generally Arts & Crafts character, which seems to be true here as well: shaggy, shale-cut brick, interesting brick coursing, low arches, curious bracketed roofs. I like it, completed or not.

Just as a curious footnote: Emery Stanford Hall’s grand-daughter is none other than Raquel Welch. I kid you not.

On the road…

Grand Island, NE

Colorado Springs, CO

Onawa, IA

It’s not the Christian church in Keokuk that interests me. It’s the one in the background.

McAllen, TX

This Logansport, Indiana church is an unlikely A-A type. But I had to include it for the audacity of that front facade!

Ames, IA

Vinton, IA

Logansport, IN

Oconee, IL

Jacksboro, TX

Georgetown, TX

Fort Branch, IN (questionable)

Audobon, IA (probably)

Can’t quite read to location, but it’s the church on the right that interests me.

We’re in Chicago on a field trip, waiting for a blizzard in Minnesota to run its course. So I had some time to search the web for a few more prospects. Some of these churches definitely are; some probably not.

Two Presbyterian Churches

Yes, the details differ between these two Presbyterian churches, but luckily the photographer(s) chose similar points of view. So, am I imagining a connection between these two that is wishful thinking?

Methodist Episcopal Church, Palmyra, MO

This handsome building remains at the northeast corner of Olive and Dickerson and, from the google.maps view, seems to have a Sunday school wing at the rear (north) that infers A-A conditions within.

Congregational Church, Rockville, CT

Slogging through hundreds of postcard images every day — yes, I do that — now and then yields a gem like this: the Congregational church (UCC) at Rockville, CT. Quite simply, they do not get any more Akron-Auditorium than this.

I realized this looked familiar and discovered that this is the Union Congregational church, designed by W. H. Hayes, one of the claimants for invention of the diagonal plan for auditorium seating.


Birkett Memorial Baptist Church (1.1)

Under the best of conditions, inner city churches at risk. Shrinking congregations; deteriorating neighborhoods; mainstream Protestantism is losing members to fast-growing mega-churches in the ‘burbs. The former Birkett Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit has been vacant for some time, with disastrous results, as you can see from these interior views.

The corner pulpit and radial seating are a good sign, but there is no evidence of a movable partition.