Skip to content

Here’s an odd one:

January 14, 2018

A great many Akron-Auditorium churches have been altered, mutilated or outright demolished — often with glee. [Ask me about a minister in Kansas City some time.] But a remarkable number have survived intact, the objects of great pride to their congregations. And then there are those that evaded construction in the first place.

While seeking information on the career or Wichita architect U. G. Charles — designer of at least three remarkable buildings in the Pairie Style — I stumbled on a news item about the design of a projected First Methodist Episcopal church in Kansas City, Missouri. The brief four-paragraph item mentioned the architect, John Gainsford of Memphis, and offered the sort of information proud building committees boast: cost, facilities, etc. A large architect’s rendering also accompanied the article.

What struck me as exceptionally curious was the design itself: a massive Gothic Revival design with large octagonal lantern. The cylindrical entry pavilion at the corner seemed awfully familiar, and then I remembered the Brown & Davis design for St Paul’s M.E. church in Ithaca, New York. Placing the 1907 Ithaca building next to the 1909 Wichita proposal raises more questions than it answers. I won’t say the two designs are interchangeable but there is clearly something going on here. Three things are true:

  1. The Ithaca church and the Wichita proposal are cousins, if not actual twins.
  2. Ithaca’s architects were Brown & Davis, well-known church architects from Cincinnati, while the Wichita proposal ostensibly came from John Gainsford of Memphis.
  3. Brown & Davis were architects for First Baptist church in Topeka, Central M.E. church in Kansas City, Missouri, and St Paul’s M.E. church in Lincoln, Nebraska, so they were in the area — three times.

So, the question du jour remains: How did Gainsford’s name come to be connected with this presumably unbuilt proposal for a Methodist church in Wichita? And why was the projects not carried through?

First Methodist Episcopal Church, Ithaca, NY / Brown & Davis, architects

St Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church, Lincoln, NE / Brown & Davis, architects

First Baptist Church, Topeka, KS / Brown & Davis, architects

Central Methodist Episcopal Church, Kansas City, MO / Brown & Davis, architects

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: