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Two (maybe four) in Marshalltown, IA

February 23, 2016

Some communities are rich in A-A buildings because they had a local architect who was an enthusiast or, just as likely, through the sort of peer pressure that says “The Methodists just built this newfangled church. We’d better look into it and see what it’s all about.” Shenandoah, Iowa is an excellent case in point: it has five A-A church built in a very short window of opportunity. Another Iowa community, Marshalltown, is not quite so blessed [there are ministers who would disagree with that assessment on my part], having just two that I’m aware of: Disciples of Christ and Methodist.

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The Church of Christ is surely one, having been the work of the redoubtable George Washington Kramer, connected with more of these churches than any other architect. The corner entry, octagonal lantern model was a popular design of Kramer’s and can be found from nearly coast to coast. It dates from about 1910. First Methodist may not show it from Main Street but seen from the side the polygonal Sunday School and clerestory are evident.  First Congregational is a plan type less frequently encountered: the L-shape with “cloister” allows for an opening between Sunday School and auditorium but doesn’t guarantee it. And First Baptist, though no longer standing, was designed by Harry W. Jones, a Minneapolis architect who designed several A-A churches and was himself the son of a Baptist missionary.

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