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Christ Church

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1760–1761, Peter Harrison; 1825, Isaiah Rogers; 1857. Garden St.
  • Christ Church (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (Damie Stillman)

Christ Church is the oldest church in Cambridge. Peter Harrison, one of the most important architects of the colonial period, built a frame structure with hipped roof surmounted by a higher roof over the nave. He boldly enhanced the design with classical moldings on the exterior, specifically the round arched window trim and the entablature with triglyphs, and with the use of flush board siding instead of clapboards. For this reason Christ Church stands out from the other eighteenth-century churches in Massachusetts. For the interior, Harrison provided a broad nave with three aisles, separated by two rows of monumental columns supporting a central coved ceiling, all directed toward a freestanding central pulpit and altar in a shallow apse. Architect Isaiah Rogers embellished Harrison's interior ornament in 1825, and two bays were inserted into the length of the nave by cutting the building in half in 1857. The latter alteration was done in an effort to preserve the church, which had by then become appreciated as an important landmark from the town's colonial past. Adjacent stands the Rectory (1 Garden Street), a three-story Federal-style clapboard dwelling, its columned entrance porch on the side facade perpendicular to the church, erected in 1820 by a prominent local housewright, William Saunders.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Christ Church", [Cambridge, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 341-341.

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