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St Paul United Methodist Church, Ithaca, NY

September 1, 2016

G. W. Kramer may have been the most prolific designer of A-A churches by shear numbers. But a close runner up was the Cincinnati firm of Brown & Davis (previously Crapsey & Brown; later Brown Burton & Davis). The link between these related firms was William R. Brown, who developed not only a specialty for church design, but especially for large examples of the Akron-Auditorium species. With offices in Cincinnati and briefly in Chicago, they blanketed the Midwest with projects as far west as South Dakota, Nebraska, and Missouri, and eastward into Pennsylvania and New York State. Today’s example is First Methodist Episcopal in Ithaca, NY, which later became St Paul UMC.


Though I’m showing only one postcard view of St Paul’s, there is additional photographic evidence that the church was built in phases: the Sunday School first (perhaps using the assembly space as a temporary sanctuary) and then adding the Auditorium portion shown here. The building is well preserved and recognized as a landmark in central Ithaca and has been featured on walking tours. It is also highly unusual to find that the architects’ presentation drawing has been preserved.


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