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Morrison H. Vail, Architect

August 3, 2017

The Akron Plan, a revolution in religious education, traces its origins to the Chautauqua movement: both were conceived by collaboration of Rev (later Bishop) John Heyl Vincent and industrialist and Methodist Sunday school leader Lewis Miller. In 1874 they established a summer institute for the training of Sunday school teachers at Chautautqua, New York — the origin of a 19th century populist movement that spread rapidly across the United States — and almost immediately afterward conceived the method of religious education that came to be called the Akron Plan. So it’s reasonable to look for architectural links between them. Witness, the creation of multiple chautauqua auditoria by Illinois architect Morrison H. Vail.

Born Charles Morrison Huggins Vail in 1866, Morrison practiced in Dixon, Illinois but became well known nationally through the publication of plan books for both houses and churches. More directly connected with the Chautauqua aspect of the A-A is the patent he received for a long-span structural system applied to Chautauqua pavilions.

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