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Methodist Episcopal Church, Spring City, PA

The vast majority of A-A churches were built as such: the client wanted an Akron-Auditorium solution; the architect responded—with varying degrees of sophistication and success. There a very few that eased their way into Akron-icity, with a phased construction process that was a likely consequence of inadequate financial resources. Watertown, New York was a case where the Sunday school was built first, then the sanctuary-auditorium followed a few years later (I don’t know how many). And so, apparently, was the M.E. church at Spring City, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia’s outer suburbs.

After I acquire a card, it’s routine for me to check google.maps for the building’s existence. I was pleased to note the buiilding in the right foreground is still standing — though rumored to be vacant — but that Italianate box has been replaced with a matching auditorium facility which matches the education wing. It is yet to be proven whether it belongs in this database at all. Stay tuned.

Gethsemane Baptist Church, Trenton, NJ

Gethsemane Baptist Church is now Macedonia Baptist Church, still serving the Trenton community at Greenwood and Garfield avenues.

Baptist Church, Bordentown, NJ

Bordentown in western New Jersey is on the banks of the Delaware River. This Baptist church is still in service and may yet have what we believe to be an A-A plan configuration.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Akron, OH

Last April a tragic fire devastated one of the oldest surviving examples of an Akron Plan Sunday school. It was built in 1885 as the Parish Hall and Sunday school for St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron. In the 6000+ examples in the database, I can count the Episcopal examples on one hand; what made St Paul’s different is a mystery—other than actually being in Akron and at the leading edge of progress.

Fortunately, the HABS has recorded the building in measured drawings now on file at the Library of Congress. This isometric illustrates more clearly than my descriptions what constitutes the original Akron idea. In recent years it served as part of the music school at the University of Akron—which, like many institutions of “higher education”, has not been sympathetic to historic preservation, so the fate of these ruins hangs in the balance.

 

First Congregational Church, Akron, OH

Invested nearly an hour this morning in a phone conversation with staff from Perspectus Architecture in Akron regarding their consultancy with First Congregational, probably Akron’s oldest surviving A-A church. It’s always good to speak with those who are as enthusiastic about the A-A phenomenon as I’ve become and, in this case, to learn so much from their hands-on experience.

This phenomenal pile of limestone was erected during 1909-1910 from the design of Charles Henry & Sons, Akron architects. As with many A-A churches, changes which occurred over the years tended to have been cosmetic—the covering of skylights; Edwardian stenciled ornament painted over; a movable partition simply hidden behind a gypsum wall—and were undone rather economically. In case it isn’t self-evident, the “Akron Plan” was conceived in the Ohio town, so I suspect some sort of pilgrimage is in order—perhaps in the spring.

Congregational Church, San Francisco, CA

San Francisco was rich with Congregational (UCC) churches, many destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and resulting fire. This church must post-date the fire, though I cannot find any visual evidence confirming it identification in the postcard view. That door half way up the hill could provide access to a Sunday school or a social hall—or both.

The card is too rich for my blood.

Swift Memorial UMC, Bourne, MA

Swift Memorial UMC is on Williston Road in Bourne, Massachusetts, a community on Cape Cod. The church website suggests 1910 as a construction date but includes no interior views to confirm A-A status. So this one is a genuine guess on my part.

In some respects, this is organized much like Brown-Ames UMC in Pittsburgh, the blog entry just before this one.