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M. E. Church, Newton Center, MA

September 9, 2017

The inventors of the A-A plan and its most prolific proponents constitute a list of unfamiliar names. Whether local one-time designers, regional practitioners, or architects with a national clientele, the starchitects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries are not among them. Louis Sullivan’s M.E. church at Cedar Rapids has an exemplary auditorium, but its wing for religious education bears no resemblance to an Akron plan. Unity Temple in Oak Park can be construed as an F-1, putting it at the fringe of Akron-icity.  So, I’ve become intensely curious about a church by renowned Gothic Revivalists Cram Wentworth & Goodhue: a former Methodist Episcopal church at Newton Center, MA.

Aside from its Churrigueresque style, the form is (or seems to be; I have yet to find a published plan) a simple Greek Cross with the re-entrant angles filled with entries and, possibly, stairs. So a simple square rises to become the Greek Cross and that to an octagonal dome. Eliminate the historically-based ornament and the massing becomes Unity Temple. What interests me today is the subsidiary portion peeking out at the left rear. What encourages me to imagine it as Akron is another design proposal from another architect, which is clearly A-A.

Unbuilt competitive design for M. E. Church, Newton Center, MA (1898)

Seeking additional information to satisfy my curiosity, I found that the church has been secularized and converted to condominium units.


From → Methodist / EUB

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