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Baptist Church, Phoenixville, PA

December 15, 2013

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The exterior of a building doesn’t always reflect the intricacies of its interior disposition. Which is to say that Sullivan’s mantra “Form Follows Function” may not necessarily be literal.

Phoenixville’s Baptist church—still at the corner of Church and Gay streets—seems to be long and liturgical. The interior view below, however, shows a jaunty diagonal arrangement for seating and, of course, the ginormous two-story high sliding partition joining sanctuary and Sunday School. These operable walls sometimes rolled upward into the roof trusses, sometimes sideways into pockets and now and then down into a narrow pit. Those that moved up or down were often counterweighted with fifty-five gallon drums filled with sand. Ropes often jumped their track or rotted, and the partitions jammed, one of the technical reasons why Akron-Auditorium buildings fell from favor. The real reason for their disappearance was actually a shift in the style of religious education, but subsequent vestries, building committees and ministers grew to loathe them.

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