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Old West Church

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1806, Asher Benjamin. 131 Cambridge St.
  • Old West Church (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)
  • (Damie Stillman)
  • (Damie Stillman)

Old West Church is Asher Benjamin's most important surviving architectural commission. Benjamin, a housewright and the first American author of builder's guides, was influenced by the architecture of Charles Bulfinch. Benjamin drew heavily upon Bulfinch's previous Boston churches in his design of Old West. Like the two Bulfinch churches, Old West Church's brick facade included Baroque elements new to New England church design, notably the projecting multistage tower and cupola. Benjamin published a preliminary elevation and plan of Old West Church in his American Builder's Companion (1806, Boston). For structural reasons, the roof was raised in 1823. The interior retains woodwork and trim from the original building and the 1823 alteration. Old West Church is the model for a series of churches throughout the Boston area and elsewhere, such as the 1816 First Parish Church, Bedford (see BF1), and the 1824 Unitarian/Universalist Church, Canton (CT2).

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Old West Church", [Boston, 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, 96-96.

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