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Learning from Las Vegas

June 14, 2017

Milwaukee architect Anton Dohmen designed a number of Roman Catholic churches in both North and South Dakota — “Cathedrals of the Prairie” they’re often described. Here is St Bernard’s (now St Anthony’s) in Hoven (a.k.a., Hoeven), South Dakota, which I post not because it could be A-A (which RCs never did) but for its ambulatoried apse end with budding chapels, something very characteristic of Romanesque era churches in Europe, circa 1000 C.E. Indeed those features are common to many churches built along the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. What struck me as interesting in this case is the visual, if not actually functional, similarity with several churches by L. B. Valk, who was a primary player in the Akron-Auditorium game.

Consider, as I am at this moment, the form of Valk’s Presbyterian church in San Angelo, Texas:

In this case, his radial “east” end is not the chancel of a traditional longitudinal church in the liturgical tradition, but rather a genuine 180° Akron Plan Sunday school, with break-out spaces in the places where a Mediæval pilgrim would expect to find relics from the Holy Land retrieved by retreating Crusaders. It’s doubtful that image was running through Valk’s head but the parallel is at least interesting.

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